Where to Locate Your Software Startup

Entrepreneurs are faced with the decision about where to locate< their company. As they begin to look  - the cost of rental space, size, amenities and parking often come to mind. I’d like to suggest they consider some long range and short range planning of another sort, namely, what type of employee am I most interested in attracting and where will they most likely want to work.

If you are a new firm interested in attracting more candidates whose experience is in the 0-8 year range then be aware that there is a clear trend emerging.

These candidates are repeatedly requesting that we find firms that are commutable on the T. Yes, you can get to the western suburbs by public transportation but the overwhelming demand from the applicant side is to be able to make as few changes as possible and be able to enjoy working and life after work without the need for a car.

Factors driving this trend are numerous. Many candidates are graduating from college with large student loans, eager to work but not interested in taking on more debt in the form of car payments. Boston and Cambridge real estate developers have taken note of the increased demand for housing in the city and many flexible and attractive options are available for city dwellers.

Social networking and tools for helping people connect to others sharing their interests has created many options for after work activities. Candidates want to work hard, be able to put in above average efforts and also have the ease of access to activities, friends, restaurants and entertainment. Long commutes to and from the suburbs make it difficult. The city life offers the diversity and numerous options that many find attractive.

More candidates are environmentally aware. People care about gas consumption, pollution, noise and keeping the planet green. When faced with the option of driving or walking or biking, many now are choosing to walk or bike. Again the city offers options often not available to the employee who works in a building on a major highway. Walking along the Charles River or riding your bike along the bike path is a pleasant option available for engineers working in town.

So, although an office space in the suburbs could be less expensive, consider the cost of losing a large group of potential candidates who have stated a preference for the city and who will eliminate the option of working at a company they have to own a car to get to.

We are seeing specific areas emerging as pockets of high tech startups. These are Kendall Square, The Boston Innovation District, and the Leather District. We also see activity in Central Square, Davis and Harvard Square. A few articles refer to the Red Line as the High Tech Line.

Trends come and go so it’s possible that years to come we will see life change but if you are making a decision now about where to locate your firm, consider if you can afford the city or at least a suburban area that is T accessible. You’ll find more employees willing and happy to join you.