Should Canadian Startups Move to Silicon Valley?

Does a Silicon Valley insider think it’s best to relocate to the Bay Area? Not always, says Ariel Poler.

Poler, one of the most connected and prolific Angel investors in the world, was Michael Cayley’s virtual fireside chat guest at Startup Grind Toronto’s July 9 event. A big thank you to Pivotal Labs for providing the space. Pivotal’s leadership in agile development of highly-scalable mobile and web software was evident in the superb meeting room.

“Re-locating to San Francisco could be the wrong thing if you don’t have your core team,” says Poler. “I’ve seen single entrepreneurs who come here and try to build a team from scratch and that’s really tough.”

Silivon Valley talent competition is so ferocious it can stall startups.

Only start ups that have the core team in place, should move to Silicon Valley.

Says Poler, “some companies might be better off moving here, but not right away.”

To illustrate, Poler points to StumbleUpon. “Their product was getting traction, they had 100s of 1,000s of users. The product demoed really well. The business model was clear.” Not only was the core team was in place, “the team was ready to move.”

If you’re at that point, dithering over the move can be deadly.

You get a strong sense of just how intimate Poler expects the connection between himself and entrepreneurs he backs will be. “As an investor, I only deal with entrepreneurs I’d have dinner with… It’s difficult for me to add value for remote workers. And I don’t like airplanes and long telephone calls.”

And one last point. Poler encourages people to be skeptics when it comes to myths propagated and promoted by the tech press. One popular notion, is that when you have an opportunity that could be huge, speed is of the essence to capture it. Poler disagrees.

“Speed is over rated,” says Poler, “it’s more important to be going in the right direction. I’m not sure I’ve seen a startup that failed by going too slow.”

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