The Startup’s Siren Call of California

Back in late 2003, a few years after I’d started my company, I got down on myself questioning the amount of progress we’d made on the business. I had two full-time employees with a couple of interns and I just wasn’t satisfied with how fast things were growing. Revenues were increasing nicely on a percentage basis, but on an absolute basis they were still pretty meager. I didn’t know how to push the ship forward faster without outside capital, and after talking to many local angels and VCs, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to raise any money because I didn’t have a successful startup under my belt and we were competing in a crowded market.

Deep in frustration I heard the startup’s siren call: move to California and everything will be better.

In California, I’d be able to raise a ton of money, hire an army of great people, and build the next Salesforce.com. It was a standard playbook that has been implemented many times before. Mentioning California to my soon-to-be wife got her all riled up and upset as she’s pretty averse to change. I didn’t know what to do.

After thinking about it more, and continuing to plug away at my business, I began to realize I was already in the best place for me: Atlanta. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • With revenues continuing to grow, and lack of outside capital, we were able to continue bootstraping, and Atlanta is a phenomenal place to bootstrap a business due to a variety of reasons
  • My friends and community (e.g. networking organizations, softball team, etc) were established and comfortable
  • My family in North Florida, where I grew up, was less than five hours away
  • Thinking more about the tech startup community, and potentially one day being a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond, I felt I was better suited for a small pond where I could have more of an impact

Incredibly, the startup’s siren call of California is as strong today as it’s ever been, based on comments and discussions all over social media. I’m glad I stayed in Atlanta as we were right on the cusp of explosive growth, and Atlanta proved to be a great place to build a multi-million dollar business.

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