Where Will the Next Batch of Startup Elites Come From? Probably Nowhere You’ve Heard Of

When you think of startup founders, the people you picture may all be similar. Historically, the most prominent startup elites have been. Most have come from large tech hubs like San Francisco and New York, and many from wealthy backgrounds and prestigious universities.

That’s starting to change. While the world’s eyes may linger on Silicon Valley when watching for the next industry disruptors, they may not find them there. The next batch of startup leaders will likely come from more diverse, and perhaps unexpected, places.

The conditions that produce leading startup entrepreneurs are shifting, and with it, so will the entrepreneurs themselves. Here’s why.

Major Tech Hubs Are Shifting

In the past, startups have clustered around larger cities with more established tech cultures and opportunities for connection. COVID-19 has upended that trend by starting a remote work revolution. As of December 2020, 71% of American workers worked from home, compared to just 20% before the pandemic.

This shift to remote work led to a shift away from larger, more expensive cities. Over the past year, 82% of urban centers saw more people leave than move in, and 91% of suburban counties saw the opposite. This migration could help entrepreneurs from more rural areas find the success they might otherwise only find in the city.

Now that working remotely is more widespread, it gives people from these smaller areas an opportunity to get involved in tech. Rural entrepreneurs will also benefit from the lower cost of living in these towns. Since they have less overhead outside of large cities, it could be easier to get their businesses up and running.