In the middle of April, Edorble is moving from the Bay Area of California to Santa Barbara, California. We're looking forward to this change for a few reasons, some personal and some professional. We've heard it countless times....."San Francisco is THE place for startups, ed-tech, capital, innovation, etc." There's no doubt that San Francisco is a great place for an ed-tech startup to be for a number of reasons - some of the most high profile ed-tech companies are here, venture capitalists and angel investors abound, and there's a long history of tech innovation in the area. That being said, we think Santa Barbara is a better fit for us, and a great choice for any startup, ed-tech or not. Here's why.
Having gotten my master's degree in Education (focus on ed-tech) from UCSB, I have firsthand experience about UCSB Education department's research on and interest in education technology. It's impressive. Edorble already has ties with UCSB. A PhD student there named Aubrie Adams has been working with us to come up with research plans on Edorble. Aubrie also organizes testing sessions with graduate students to gather feedback from teachers-in-training about upcoming builds of Edorble. A few UCSB Professors are also going to be testing Edorble with classes in Fall 2016.
Besides the education program, another program at UCSB that is a huge asset for any startup in the area is the Technology Management Program. This program provides entrepreneurial education to undergraduates and graduate students, supports and promotes entrepreneurial activity in the area, and hosts an epic startup competition every spring. UCSB is chock full of brilliance, innovation, and cutting edge research and development. The TMP helps channel those ideas, findings, and talent into successful startups. They hold events throughout the school year, most of which are open to the public, including networking opportunities and talks led by experienced entrepreneurs.
The size and energy of San Francisco's technology startup scene is astonishing. This comes with some downsides, though. For every venture capitalist or angel investor around, there are that many more startups competing for their attention nearby. In our humble opinion, the fervent, hyper-competitive pace of startup life in the Bay Area is extraordinary and motivating, but it can be wearying and discouraging. We look forward to being in Santa Barbara, which, although much smaller, is nevertheless a growing hub of entrepreneurial activity and startup energy. There's an active community of angel investors in Santa Barbara county, some of which focus on ed-tech, and nearby in Los Angeles there are plenty of venture capitalists, incubators, and of course....schools! We like the idea of swimming in these waters, rather than getting lost in the flood of the Bay Area.
There are other practical concerns that come along with San Francisco's size and status as "startup capital of the world." As is well-known, costs of living in the Bay Area are exorbitantly high, and the commute is often a nightmare. Don't get us wrong, Santa Barbara is quite expensive as well - it's arguably one of the nicest places to live in the world - but it's still cheaper than the Bay Area, and getting around the area is easy. Also, San Francisco is only a quick flight away!
Writing now just as myself (Gabe Baker, CEO + co-founder), I'm excited to be returning to Santa Barbara and relocating the company there for a few personal reasons. The "vibe" in Santa Barbara is more agreeable to me (a little less NYC, a little more relaxed). I'm also a bit of a human solar battery that does best when the sun is in abundance. Here in the Bay Area, it's simply colder, rainier, and gloomier. I'd be lying if I said this didn't matter.
I made friends while at UCSB that I'm excited to see more of, and there are restaurants in Santa Barbara that I miss dearly (Enterprise Fish Co!). I miss the Lemon Festival at Goleta, and the Avocado Festival in Carpinteria.
San Francisco, it's been real.
Santa Barbara, here we come.