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Being a developer in St. Louis, the median developer that makes 85k here is not really the kind you’d find at a good Bay Area company. When you look for the good ones, they often have competing remote offers with salaries not that different from the bay: The biggest difference is that nobody gives real, useful, valuable RSUs the way FAANG does. Barring one of those jobs, the trade off is pretty appealing for developers.

The problem for a startup here is money and customers. There is some local money, but in practice, you will be raising from firms in SF or Boston. To do that well, you will be sending a founder on trips a high percentage of their time: Our CEO was out 50 percent of the time this year. It’s OK with three founders or a small team already, but the seed stage is very rough, especially for a solo founder.

There is also the matter of customers. If you are doing B2B for startups, or straight sales to developers, the market isn’t here. Consumer? Any physical bits are not going to grow the fastest here. Do you want to start selling to large masses of people with little time and loss of disposable income? Not the best test market. So you better be doing something that is better done from here. An agriculture startup, with farms across the river, for instance. Still, it will be rare for this to be your ideal location there.

Still, I wish for more startups here, but the negatives are very visible, and we have very few success stories that tell people it’s worth trying.

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