Figuring out where to start your robotics firm based on location, access to talent, and quality of other robot companies.
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As the robotics market continues to grow beyond expectations and market predictions, the time is right for many entrepreneurs and roboticists to get into building a robotics company. But in addition to a company and product to offer, budding robot companies will need to think about where to start as well.
While many areas across the U.S. are appealing for startup companies, when it comes to robotics, Silicon Valley, Boston, Pittsburgh, Austin and Denver stand out in the U.S. We will discuss the upsides and potential downsides of each of these locations.
Sitting at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley is home to tech giants like Google and Apple. But don’t let these big names intimidate you. With the right approach, you can use the area’s history of innovation and technology to your advantage.
Some of Silicon Valley’s most appealing advantages for robotics startups include:
- A well-established culture of fostering startups;
- Unique networking opportunities;
- An abundance of potential investors;
- Clearly defined intellectual property laws;
- High media coverage of the area, offering potential exposure.
While moving to California might seem like nothing but sunny skies, there are definitely some cons. If you’re going to set up shop in Silicon Valley, you should expect a lot of competition. While this may drive you to create a better business, nothing is bad for certain just because you move to a more viable area.
In addition, expect extremely high housing costs that might affect your budget. Renting a one bedroom apartment, for example, could end up running you $3,000 per month. Even some of the cities’ rising tech workers are struggling to find homes in their budget.
Despite the downsides, if you want to work among some of the biggest names in tech, the pros might outweigh the cons, depending on the type of robotics company you are looking to build.
While it may not hold the same glamor as Silicon Valley, Boston has become a hub for robotics over the past few decades. Boston Dynamics and iRobot are just two of the noteworthy companies that have found a home in the region.
Investors are taking note of this surge in startups. Boston ranks third in the world in terms of venture capital investment. Here are some other reasons to start your company in Boston:
- Availability of resources in education establishments such as MIT;
- Plenty of opportunities for funding;
- History of robotics, meaning business partners and lawyers know how to work with your kind of company.
Just like Silicon Valley, Boston comes with its fair share of cons, the price of city living be one of them. Besides the cost of living, locals say that navigating the city can be a challenge, especially when transportation is nothing to write home about.
Pittsburgh is home to Robotics Row, a convergence of dozens of robotics companies. Carnegie Mellon University is one of the leading universities in robotics and AI, making its home city of Pittsburgh an attractive option to technology entrepreneurs around the world.
The city boasts:
- A robust industrial history and culture;
- A variety of manufacturing companies that could benefit from innovative robotics solutions;
- Giant companies like Amazon and Bosch investing in the city;
- An abundance of local talent, thanks to institutions like Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh;
- Lower housing costs when compared to other robotics hub cities.
Again, no city is perfect, and if you relocate to Pittsburgh one thing you’ll be dealing with is harsh winters and freezing temperatures for most of the year. Oh, and make sure you have good snow tires, because Pittsburgh is famous for its large amounts of steep hills.
That being said, the city of steel is becoming a city of robots. If you’re looking for a robotics-friendly location with a little less market saturation than Boston or Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh may be right for you.
Texas is not just for cowboys. The magazine Inc. rated Austin as the best place to start a business in the U.S. Titans of tech like Google and Facebook opened significant operations in the city, which is growing four times faster than San Francisco and San Jose.
Factors that make Austin so appealing include:
- A well-educated workforce, thanks to schools like the University of Texas at Austin;
- South by Southwest, which draws investors and media attention;
- Relatively low cost of doing business compared to other major cities;
- No personal income tax or corporate tax.
Austin is a blossoming center of innovation. You could benefit from taking advantage of it before the market grows saturated.
Just remember to invest in a great air-conditioner for those hot Texas days. You’ll also need to make sure owning a car is in your budget, as Austin is not the best walking city and has limited public transportation.
Colorado is experiencing a boom in AI, and Denver is at the heart of it. While the city may be most famous for marijuana, dispensaries are not the only booming business here. Amazon and Facebook have both opened offices in the city, with more tech companies flocking in as well.
Denver is ideal for robotics businesses thanks to:
- Job growth tax incentives;
- Plenty of business resources;
- A growing young workforce;
- A collaborative work culture.
Denver has a rapidly growing young population. The influx of fresh, tech-native minds in the city could provide you with plenty of help in getting your robotics business off the ground.
Keep in mind that Denver rests one mile above sea level and adjusting to living at a high altitude can be challenging. You might have to take some time out of the office before you can thrive in the limited oxygen.
How to find places to start your business
There are plenty of other great places to start your robotics company not listed here. Location can be central to your business’s success, so you want to choose it carefully. To find the right place for your company, you could consult experts, use business mapping software, or look at where your competitors are.
Whatever you do, make sure you consider all the resources you’ll need and the expenses you’ll have. The U.S. is full of emerging tech business centers. There is no shortage of places for you to establish your robotics company.
About the author: Caleb Danziger is a technology blogger and freelance writer. Caleb is the editor and co-owner of The Byte Beat, a “home for tech fanatics’ commentary on technology, science, and life in our rapidly changing world.”