Innovation Outside of Big Cities

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Jon Udell has a good conversation (with very good audio quality) with Neil Giarratana, the president of a small web shop based off Keene, NH. This stroke very close to home (so to speak!) since our HQ is based in Vermont but we have people all over the place: Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, Montana, Colorado, Oregon, California, and myself down here in Chile. We have people who sometimes spend time in London or the Florida Keys or wherever and don’t really skip a beat. Looking at Lucidus’ blog, I see we go through the very same issues, from how much can you rely on Vonage or Skype, to making sure wherever your people are, they’d better investigate their broadband options.
It’s interesting to see Giarratana has made his location choice in large part for family reasons, just like we did. From a practical perspective, there are many variables, but the bottom line is, where can you get good schools without paying an arm and a leg for real estate? The almost philosophical under-current is to define and pursue success and quality of life on your own terms, and go in big cities only when you want to enjoy what they offer without bearing with their noise, pollution, traffic, cost and crime on a daily basis.
As a business, this distributed MO has definitely its challenges, but I’m convinced we’ve been forced to develop a sense of focus and discipline whose lack is killing a majority of internet start-ups. For us, it’s all about outcomes, from new features to better content to, most importantly, satisfied customers and increasing revenue and free cash flow. There’s no water cooler and white board endless filler. Less banter, more writing. Not that we can’t have fun though!

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