The food choices are sparse and honestly compared to places like Seattle, Chicago, and SF down right terrible.
Shopping is mostly limited to big box shops like Target, Macy's and the like.
To be completely frank the biggest issue is the monoculture. If you aren't white and Mormon you don't fit in and it is very obvious.
Granted there are upsides like the mountain sides for camping and skiing. Also Harmon's is an extremely nice grocery store.
It was fun, but not for long.
One on-topic aspect I appreciated about Utah was the quality of the Computer Science program at Utah Valley University. The chance to learn from experts like Chuck Allison  and David Heldenbrand truly expanded my mind and was an incredible opportunity. Really, all the CS faculty was excellent and commendably eager to do the teaching themselves rather than offloading the most critical parts to TA's. Given the high ratio of religious fanatics in the surrounding region, the school is a remarkably open and progressive institution.
As soon as I finished school I moved back to Palo Alto and would never consider returning to Utah other than to visit friends, go skiing/snowboarding, or go to hike at Moab or Zion National Park.
I definitely wouldn't recommend going to Provo or Orem to start a tech company.
To put things in perspective: Provo is 29 short highway miles from Eagle Mountain, which is primarily composed of polygamist compounds. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being a polygamist; it was just a surprise to find out about it only after several years of living in Provo.
There is a reason that Provo and Orem often referred to as the "Utah Valley Bubble". It is an isolated community and if you aren't Mormon you will likely pretty strange when you discover how poorly you fit in with the homogeneous culture.
With that being said, there are some upsides to operating a business in Utah Valley:
You can hire high-quality engineers for pennies (or perhaps a quarter) on the dollar compared to other places. At one point I interviewed at Omniture, and they scoffed at the salary I asked for.
People who live in Utah Valley are also less likely to move away as much compared to other places, because their immediate and extended families tend to live nearby. This means that it is possible to expect to retain employees for much longer period of times than in a place such as Silicon Valley.
Finally: If you are into discriminating against people for their sexual orientation, it is completely legal to do so in Utah. There is no legal protection from sexual orientation discrimination in Utah.
If you are into discriminating against people for their sexual orientation, that is actually completely within the bounds of the law in Utah (if that's what you're into).
I definitely wouldn't recommend going to Provo or Orem... where there are many polygamists.
Keep in mind that, until relatively recently, homosexuality was as socially taboo, if not more so, than polygamy. Now, I won't weigh in on whether it's fair to group the two; perhaps it's not. But before you publicly castigate a community for their views on a particular sexual orientation, you should refrain from committing the same offense.
You know. Since, yeah, you not-so-disingenuously went ahead and grouped polygamy with homosexuality as both somehow innate "sexual orientations", as you groped toward analogy.
The fact that Orem/Provo is better or worse than your average city in the same class doesn't make the food choices any better.
Now, since Ann Arbor Michigan which is on par with your listed population size for Provo actually has good food some decent shopping and a fairly large number of cultural events your argument comes up strongly lacking.
This is particularly disappointing because there are much better reasons to justify your decisions to not found your startup in Utah. Let's start with the fact that the investment scene, and in particular, the angel scene, is completely and utterly toxic.
I won't go into specifics, because badmouthing people on the Internet is mean, but most of funding (especially angel funding) in Utah is structured as a competition, where startups compete for money. The result is that there is no camaraderie between companies in the way that there is in, say, NYC or the bay area. People are friendly, but there is not really any knowledge ventilation because the angels cultivate this atmosphere of competition. The result is a divisive and poisonous atmosphere that is antithetical (IMHO) to hacker culture. In my experience, this lack of sharing knowledge makes it quite hard to build things. You're extremely unlikely to find a successful coworking space here, for example.
So ultimately, the talent pool here is deep, but until this cultural problem is fixed, Utah will always be a distant 11th to other venues.
EDIT: and before we all jump on the hate train, I'm an avowed atheist who left Mormonism. I don't like the culture here either, but let's not forget that Sili Valley needs to pull its head out of its ass on a pretty regular basis too.
EDIT 2: and for reference, I graduated in CS from the University of Utah this year (2013). So my experiences are pretty fresh.
I left Salt Lake City 6 years ago. I miss many aspects of life there and have considered moving back. But the air quality there is an absolute deal breaker. The winter inversions are absolutely miserable.
Fixing the inversion problem though will take active involvement from the community. If we could get 1/3 of the cars off the road on the 10 days/year it mattered the most, it would be a game-changer. The tech companies in the area could make a big difference in this effort if they let their collective thousands of employees work from home on those days.
Even with massive cut-backs in emissions our industrial economy and expanding population ensures this will remain a problem long into the future.
If I move back to the states, I'm going to avoid living in bowls or valleys.
Utah culture does have some positives. The work ethic is very strong, the atmosphere is pro-business, and employees are loyal almost to a fault. In California I think the M.O. is "looking out for number one" -- in Utah I felt that even low level employees often have a sense of commitment to their employers. I also think that Mormons specifically can be good in sales due to their missionary work which is two-years of religiously mandated door-to-door sales training.
But the Utah culture lacks in other areas -- specifically on "being a hustler/hacker" and being creative, neither of which is plentiful in Utah.
By the way, Overstock and Novell are the only tech companies in Utah I can think of -- are there any that are more recent?
I'm thinking WA state makes a little more sense (I personally prefer UW to BYU/UU, and I like the culture in WA more than (my limited experience with) UT), especially if you want to have only a single location which appeals to both "city people" and "country people" (an overgeneralization, but I think accurate). However, SF+UT seems like a really strong option.
The awesome thing about this is that if UT becomes the backend dev shop for lots of startups, SFBA VC will be drawn there to finance new startups at some point, solving your financing problem.
Also, WA doesn't just mean Seattle, but I'm sure the startup scene in Spokane is kind of moribund.
The interesting thing about Utah is that it has a tech talent scene at all...I just wouldn't have expected it before I was living there. Rents are also more affordable and it's an ok city to live in.
What I like about UW is specifically their aero program and their cryptography and law programs. UU/BYU are not as strong on that. And MSR is amazingly proper.
I guess I've known about the strengths of Utah for a while, but that's because I met a lot of Mormons in the military and in general overseas, and they did a great job of selling the state (actively and passively).
It's pretty telling that New York isn't even mentioned in that report despite there being areas in the city where every other office is a startup.
I anticipated moving out to the Austin TX area after college for a startup experience. I can't afford the California tax, both the government and other cost of living expenses.
Colorado is gorgeous, and so is the Wasatch front. I'll be looking more aggressively for jobs in those areas.
In Denver there's a whole area called the "Tech Center", and there are quite a few startups in Downtown. I've heard a lot about Boulder and the tech community up there, but it's way too far away for me to look for work up there.
Plus, there's a lot to do around here all year round.
(Side note, I also lived in Provo for 5 years and SLC for 1)
I just prefer skiing over humidity :)
Even being 2nd means you'll have to fight more than twice as hard for resources.
Boulder has the same issue of people leaving though. Both because of a lack of money and because of a lack of physical space for companies to move to. Rally Software manages to find space inside Boulder, but it's difficult.
So, then companies that incubate here leave and make it seem like startups aren't flourishing. Like Next Big Sound or PlaceIQ. Investors sometimes need to help companies stay where they are from instead of artificially perpetuating the idea that small startup communities exist solely for feeding the Silicon Valley brain pool. The valley is an awful place to actually live.
3. us, http://i.tv
5. http://www.vivint.com/en/, recently bought for $2 billion
http://www.domo.com/ and the Adobe campus are also about 10 minutes away, and there are various tech companies scattered all the way up through Salt Lake.
http://www.ng-conf.org/ is coming to SLC next year, and the local tech meetups are active and widely attended. Combine the good tech scene with the extremely low cost of living and it is a great place to be.
SV is what it is because of its pionerism.. after the first seed give its fruits to the world, the tendency now is people for different places and backgrounds start their own things in their own countries.. so we gonna start to see the next microsofts , googles and apples comming from other places as well.. without any connection between those places..
the infrastructure of course is essential.. so those SV wannabes will need to have and provide a fertile ground to those tech seed have some growth..
the word is multipluralism and descentralization.. the internet have started a true globalization movement.. and lets recall that SV started to grow and became what it is before this phenomena..
it was a flower in the desert.. but for now on, big things will start to happen in unespected places..
no need to search for the next silicon valley.. it will pop everywhere now
We only had to do one thing to double our valuation -- book a plane ticket from the Salt Lake airport to San Francisco.