Measuring the Triangle Startup Community

Is the Triangle startup scene improving?

I think most people would say yes, but I haven’t seen any real metrics that prove it is improving. If it is improving, how is it improving compared to other cities and are we growing faster or are we growing at the same pace?

I have been thinking on this for a couple months and reading this post over on ExitEvent spurred me to stop being lazy and write this post.

I am going to take a swag at this using some numbers from national sources, and I hope to be able to post this again at the end of 2015 and see where we are.


AngelList is a great place to see early company momentum. How many new startups are we generating?

North Carolina currently ranks #12 in Number of Startups

(we are letting DC pretend it’s a state for the sake of this comparison)

  1. Califorina
  2. New York
  3. Texas
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Florida
  6. Illinois
  7. Washington
  8. Georgia
  9. Colorado
  10. Pennsylvania
  11. DC
  12. North Carolina*
  13. Ohio
  14. Virginia
  15. Arizona
  16. New Jersey
  17. Maryland
  18. Oregon
  19. Michigan
  20. Nevada

(see this google doc for the entire list, data collected on 12/27/14)

Of course in a vacuum this data is fairly useless - so let’s take population into account and calculate a startup density metric. I tried a couple different denominators and came up with startups per 100k people as the one with the most sane numbers.

When it comes to Startup Density at the state level we are in 23rd place (I excluded DC for obvious reasons).

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New York
  4. Colorado
  5. Washington
  6. Nevada
  7. Utah
  8. Delaware
  9. Oregon
  10. Illinois
  11. Georgia
  12. Floria
  13. Connecticut
  14. Rhode Island
  15. Texas
  16. Maryland
  17. Arizona
  18. New Hampshire
  19. Minnesota
  20. Pennsylvania
  21. Virginia
  22. Vermont
  23. North Carolina*
  24. Hawaii
  25. Tennessee
  26. New Jersey
  27. Ohio
  28. Michigan
  29. Montana

Let's also take a look at funding numbers as opposed to just the number of companies. The following numbers are from the 2014 Mattermark report (which I recommend you buy if this kind of thing interests you)

NC is #13 for number of venture deals.

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Texas
  5. Washington
  6. Illinois
  7. Colorado
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Florida
  10. Ohio
  11. Virginia
  12. North Carolina*
  13. Maryland
  14. Georgia

And when looking at venture deal density (venture deals per 100k people) we are ranked #17.

  1. Massachusetts
  2. California
  3. New York
  4. Colorado
  5. Washington
  6. Utah
  7. Delaware
  8. Connecticut
  9. Maryland
  10. Oregon
  11. Tennessee
  12. Minnesota
  13. Virginia
  14. Illinois
  15. Pennsylvania
  16. Rhode Island
  17. North Carolina*
  18. Texas
  19. Ohio

When looking at the amount of investment NC is #16.

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Texas
  5. Washington
  6. Utah
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Illinois
  9. Colorado
  10. Florida
  11. Virginia
  12. Ohio
  13. New Jersey
  14. Minnesota
  15. Georgia
  16. North Carolina*
  17. Connecticut
  18. Michigan

Again applying density (MM per 100k people) NC is 20th:

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Utah
  4. New York
  5. Washington
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Minnesota
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Illinois
  11. Texas
  12. Virginia
  13. Oregon
  14. New Jersey
  15. Montana
  16. New Hampshire
  17. Maryland
  18. Ohio
  19. Georgia
  20. North Carolina*
  21. Iowa
  22. South Carolina

I don’t know about you but I am pretty disappointed by this data - I think if you asked most people in the are they would expect us to be higher in these lists. One issue with this data is that it is all at the state level. The Triangle is actually only 1/9th of the state population, and looking at the numbers represents the lion share of the startups. So let’s see if we can put together some more metro based data.

This data was even harder to put together, so I don’t have a complete list. If there is a group that has some interns that could complete this data please get in touch. I essentially went through the top metro areas based on this list and tried to pull the correct cities from Angelist. This is difficult because some metro’s contain other metros, etc.

But let’s compare ourselves to some other top startup metro’s out there.

The Raleigh Metro Area (including Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Cary, and Raleigh) has 487 startups listed with AngelList. Based on 1.2MM people that gives us a startup density of 40 startups per 100,000 people. (40.09).

**Note the above numbers are wrong, I published a post to correct them here.

Is that good?

Well let’s look at some of the largest metro areas:

New York - 8212 companies - 41.16
Los Angelos - 4763 - 36.27
Chicago - 1955 - 20.49
Dallas - 730 - 10.71
Houston - 574 - 9.09
Philadelphia - 771 - 12.77
DC - 1418 - 23.83
Atlanta - 1013 - 18.34
Boston - 3189 - 68.07
San Francisco - 9353 - 207.09
Phoenix - 536 - 12.18
Seattle - 1411 - 39.08

Based on these numbers it’s interesting to see that from a startup density stand point we are similar to NYC, LA, and Seattle. And way better than larger metros like Atlanta and those cities in Texas.

But we aren’t really competing with these metro’s - they are all 4MM+ in population and we are around 1.2MM. So let’s look at some of the well known smaller metros.

Nashville - 293 - 16.67
Raleigh - 487 - 40.09
Boulder - 370 - 119.33
Charlotte - 259 - 11.09
Salt Lake City - 405 - 35.51
Austin - 1404 - 74.55

We hold our own here beating out cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Salt Lake City - but are well behind Boulder and Austin.

I think these are great numbers for us to look at and I think it shows the room for growth that we have. I think it’s reasonable to say we can get to a density of closer to 100, which is over 2X growth from where we are now.

All of this data is shared in this spreadsheet - again please let me know if you would like to volunteer time to complete the metro data.

Huge thanks to both AngelList and Mattermark for providing the data.

-James (@averyj