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Why Denver?

10/28/2015

10/28/2015

Why would an entrepreneur set-up shop in Denver?

written by Jeff Wilkins CEO

Many tech pundits predicted the death of distance. In their view, the ability to virtually interact with customers, partners and employees, rendered physical location irrelevant. Despite the predictions, the San Francisco Bay Area remains the dominant force. The combination of great universities, ample venture capital and an able/experienced work force is hard to beat.

Having worked 15 years in the tech industry in the Bay Area, I can attest to the great career opportunities it offers. There are also some downsides. First, it is an astoundingly expensive place to live. They call it God's country, because only he/she can afford to live there. Pretty much the only hope you have of buying a home is joining a start-up and praying your stock grant is an IPO lottery ticket. (I suppose another option is to live with enough roommates to qualify as a tax-exempt polygamous sect.) With the nation’s top marginal rate (13.3%), California's state income taxes are also very high. High vehicle registration fees, sales taxes, gas taxes and the myriad other fees also take a toll. Forbes recently ranked California as the state with the 4th highest state and local tax burden.

The effects of the high cost of living are corrosive. It's promoting a monoculture. If you aren't in one of the favored industries, you're screwed. Artists, teachers, tradesmen, small business people are all forced to either leave or live an ascetic life.

Why would an entrepreneur set-up shop in Denver? Denver has a lot to offer, precisely because it isn't Silicon Valley. It offers a great business climate, reasonable costs, and phenomenal quality of life.

Colorado was ranked 4th in CNBC’s 2015 Top States for Business scorecard and 5th by Forbes. The start-up scene is booming in Boulder and Denver's LoDo neighborhood.

Compared to San Francisco's median home price of $1.075 million,  Denver's median price of $390,000 looks affordable. Colorado levies a flat 4.63% state income tax. According to Forbes, the state and local tax burden is higher in 31 other states. And, while there are certainly lower tax states, Colorado offers a pragmatic state and local government that works. Public infrastructure like Denver's RTD mass transit and world-class airport are great examples.

Colorado also shines in life outside of work. The reasonable cost of living supports a diverse and vibrant community. The arts thrive. Teachers can afford homes. Refreshingly, the vast majority of people you meet aren't talking about the app economy. You don't often overhear talk of 'disruption' at bars or restaurants. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, Colorado is hard to beat. It offers some of the best skiing or snowboarding in winter, hiking and camping in national/state parks, white water rafting and fishing anywhere.

In short, Denver and Colorado have a lot to offer. If you're a Bay Area refugee looking to make a change, contact us. We're hiring.

Jeff Wilkins
Chief Executive Officer, Motili


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