Those like myself that live in Utah know there is a thriving tech startup community here. From early startups like Omniture, Freeservers, and Wordperfect, to newer ventures like SocialToo, TweetBeep, TodaysMama.com, FusionIO, i.TV (previously number 1 in the iTunes app store), and FamilyLink (the makers of the Facebook App, We’re Related, one of the top 5 apps on Facebook) there’s no shortage of innovation in the Tech community in Utah. Add to that some very talented investors like Bryce Roberts, co-founder of O’Reilly AlphaTech ventures, Peterson Partners, and the entire Sorenson Capital and vast array of angel investors and private equity options available, there’s no shortage of innovation and capital to support that innovation. Unfortunately though, money and innovation are only part of the equation. A company needs eyes. It is extremely difficult to grow a tech company without the attention of Silicon Valley and the technorati out there. So why is it that we so rarely see Utah companies in TechCrunch, or Mashable, or Gizmodo, or ReadWriteWeb even?
What amazes me is the vast amount of attention Boulder, Colorado startups get. I think they know how to generate news, because the main “incubator” for lack of a better term) of those companies is Tech Stars, and Tech Stars has an amazing success rate at cranking out fairly successful companies in relatively short amount of time. But I really don’t think Utah has any shortage of tech startups in similar timeframes when compared to Boulder. In fact, our startups in many ways have shaped the internet (University of Utah was one of the first 4 nodes of the internet, after all). On FriendFeed, I compiled a list of all the tech startups that either started in Utah and are now flourishing, or that are brand new and working to get off the ground that I could think of – this is what I came up with:
- FamilyLink.com (creators of the We’re Related app on Facebook)
- Generations Networks (formerly Ancestry.com)
- Bungee Labs
- FusionIO (where Steve Wozniak currently works)
- Zagg, Inc. (makers of the Invisible Shield products, also keepers of one of the largest iPhone app directories)
- Sorenson Media
- Move Networks
Of course, that list is just off the top of my head – there are many more that I’m sure will come up in the comments. I look at this list of companies, and I look at the bustling activity of jam-packed rooms full of people at iPhone dev garages, Social Media developers garages, Tweetups, Social Media Club meetings, Launchups and more, why in the world is Utah having such a hard time getting into the tech Press of Silicon Valley? Utah has a serious tech PR problem, and I’d like to help fix it if I can.
So why the PR problem? Well, for one, correct me if I’m totally wrong here, but I’m not aware of many Tech bloggers in the area visible in the Silicon Valley scene, with over 1,000 subscribers that can get the word out easily. I’m aware of three right now, please correct me if I’ve missed you: Matt Asay, Phil Windley, and myself. Are there any more? I think this could change if more people in Utah focused on technology in their blogging. I’ve noticed a trend in Utah recently of many bloggers completely giving up on that, and it’s depressing, personally.
Secondly, of those 3 bloggers (sorry Matt and Phil – you’re going to hate me after this, I know), we’re not getting pitched by Utah companies. The majority of my blog audience right now, as you can see, are Silicon Valley, and states outside of Utah. Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re not even in Utah, and I think that’s sad, personally. Utah has a huge opportunity to get the bias of their local tech bloggers, which in turn could lead to TechCrunch mentions, TechMeme exposure and more, and they’re not even taking advantage of it. If you run an Open Source company, you should be pitching Matt Asay to write about you in his Open Road blog on CNet. Phil Windley is also very interested in that (as am I, occasionally), along with interesting startups and people for his IT Conversations podcast. If you’re building a social, real-time, or otherwise just plain cool tech startup you should be pitching me to write either here or on LouisGray.com, where I occasionally write.
The darker states represent the higher traffic areas to StayNAlive.com
If you run a tech startup in Utah, money is hard to come by these days. Exposure is easier than you think though. If you’re hiring an expensive PR company to do this for you, you’re doing it wrong. You should start by pitching locally, then if that doesn’t work (sorry, like an investor, bloggers have to turn down pitches as well), get on Twitter, build an audience, and most importantly, start your own blog. If you ever want any advice in doing that please don’t hesitate to contact me.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of new startups in Utah right now. I don’t know who you are. There are hundreds of tech bloggers in the area, I’m sure, which can easily build an audience and help these startups. I don’t know who you are. I’m not sharing this to boast of my own subscribers, but rather to offer a call for help. Utah, let’s work together to let Silicon Valley know we’re out here. I think if we do it right, we could, and should, very well be considered the next “Boulder” of the MountainWest. How can I help Silicon Valley know more about you?
If you live in Utah, or run a business in Utah, let’s retweet this around so we can help each other out. Please be sure to share it with your friends.