One difficulty entrepreneurs have in smaller cities is what I call the direct flight challenge. Basically, most flights go through a regional hub, and if you aren’t that hub, trips become more difficult as well as much more expensive. If you’re from the South, this quote is common:
Whether you go to heaven or hell, you have to pass through Atlanta’s airport to connect.
Lack of direct flights can be an issue for startups due to several reasons:
- Many investors (e.g. VCs) want to be able to fly in and out on the same day, which is usually difficult without a direct flight.
- Sales and business development travel costs and time will be significantly greater.
- Potential partners and acquirers will be more reluctant to get involved, all things being equal, as it is more difficult to get together.
My recommendation is to keep direct flights in mind when choosing a city to start a company, especially if air travel is an important component.