After spending most of my life “outside of Philly” (because no one outside of the Tri-state area has heard of my town), I have the northern personality down. I walk quickly, I refrain from eye contact on the street, and I’m, err, a rather aggressive driver.
But after spending nearly two years in Nashville, I’ve come to appreciate the southern charm the city has. Starting a company is a challenge regardless of your location, but after starting one in the South, I’d argue that it’s easier. The friendliness that’s associated with the southern states is real, and it translates into your business dealings. Here are three reasons it’s easier to be a startup in the South:
1. The Friendliness Is Real
The friendliness of the South is definitely different than the Northeast. I didn’t realize how much of a typical northerner I was until I realized that everyone makes eye contact down here. It’s common for strangers to say “Hi” and ask how you’re doing; I just think they’re trying to catch me off guard and mug me. It was disconcerting at first.
But this also means that I’ve been able to meet with people I never could have hoped to meet if I were still in Philly, or the Northeast in general. People who are busy, successful and have no business meeting with a recent college grad have taken the time for me to ask all the questions, listen to my dreams and idealism, and offer feedback.
And I’m so grateful for their generosity!
2. The Entrepreneurial Bug Is Biting
When people hear the word “Nashville,” they often think country music. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked “Oh, do you like country music?” when they heard I was moving here, I’d have a… few cups of great coffee. But you get the gist.
Nashville is so much more than the variety of music genres present; it’s a tech hub, healthcare mecca, and a place that, as of 2013 (the most recent numbers I could find), 4,500 new businesseseach month state-wide.
We live in a creative city, and there’s a lot of creatives that want to branch out and do it on their own. Blend that with the growing technology community, and you have a group of people doing incredible things that are changing Nashville and beyond.
3. The Strong Sense of Community
And lastly, entrepreneurship in the South offers a strong sense of community. Granted, I wasn’t looking for meetups when I was still living near Philly, but there wasn’t a sense of community. Everyone rushes from one thing to another (still guilty of that!), and it’s hard to get behind the facade we all put on.
From the meetups to the conferences to the mixers, there’s always a way to connect with the marketing and tech community here in Nashville. Let’s not take it for granted; let’s meet new people, make friends and build relationships that can help us as founders.
I don’t resent my hometown—I still love it and miss it—but I’m also happy to call Nashville home for as long as I’m here. After all, I’m firmly holding on to my accent. It’s “wudder,” not “water.” We have an incredible startup community here in Nashville, and I’m excited to see how it develops in the future.