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Seattle: Not the Next Silicon Valley and Proud of It

Thom Ruhe

Although it may be obvious to some, the culture of Seattle is steeped in the environment. From being vigilant about the environment, to simply taking advantage of the many beautiful natural amenities of the area, Seattleites embrace the notion that they exist within and affect the environment they so deeply cherish.

Their love for the “Emerald City” and its surroundings was apparent from the moment I arrived ready to explore Seattle’s startup scene for the sake of our most recent ID8 Nation. And in doing so, I quickly found that just like its physical environment, which simply cannot be compared to that of any other city, Seattle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is all its own. Scoffing at the recent comparisons to a prominent upstart environment to the south, Seattle’s entrepreneurs are quick to point out that their startup scene is nothing like Silicon Valley’s—and they prefer to keep it that way.

ID8 Nation SeattleBeyond the obvious (things like a lower cost of living) there was a common reason why several folks I spoke to migrated from Northern California to Seattle. Entrepreneurs are seeking escape from what they describe as an echo-chamber culture that actually restricts (their conclusion, not mine) creativity and new ideas.

Here’s an example of what I heard. One gentleman, who now supports startups by helping them create a minimally viable product for market validation, pointed out that in the decade he lived and worked in the Valley, he witnessed a multitude of startups riffing on slight variations of each other’s ideas. Why? Because the VC community had expressed interest in a particular technology and entrepreneurs saw a shortcut to success. When he became fed up with what he saw as a lack of diversity and group-think setting (a not-so-flattering Silicon Valley description that has made an appearance in more than a few tech and innovation articles lately) because it was stifling his own innovation, he made the move up North.

Another example shared was the notion that there was more willingness to collaborate among startups - without a sense that helping someone else may be at the competitive expense of my own startup. There is a genuine espirit-de-corps among the startups, that feeds an authentic sense of community.

Whatever their reason for landing there, entrepreneurs are energizing Seattle. Learn more about what we found in this great city in our latest episode of ID8 Nation.

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