Chicago isn’t always the first city that comes to your mind when thinking about a tech incubator.
But being with the "it" crowd doesn't always pay dividends.
Vishal Shah and Ethan Linkner of VLinks Media, learned that lesson quickly.
The pair started their tech company in San Fransisco, a traditional hotbed for computer themed companies, but moved their headquarters quickly after launch so that they could be closer to their customers.
“We got tired of waking up at three in the morning to talk to our clients.” Linkner joked.
VLinks specializes in creating educational applications designed as study aids. Shah and Linkner, 26 and 27 respectively, started it in November 2010, and quickly found out that the majority of their customers -- publishers -- are in the Midwest, South and East Coast, so the moved closer to their customer base.
"Seriously, we wanted to better serve our clients," Linkner said."And we thought we could do that out here.”
The decision, they say, was a smart one, and they are happy with the way that it has turned out for them since they came out to the Midwest. The pair agrees that here in Chicago, within the start up community, when you know one person, you really know everyone.
They're off to a great start, considering their relocation.
Their iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad apps have already been downloaded more than 15,000 times. Those apps, the say, make the process of learning more accessible to a mobile audience, more social and competitive. The company is also working hard to make sure that everyone has access to their apps, with Android and Blackberry apps in development.
The added benefit, they say, is that Chicago will provide even more opportunity for them to grow because there is a huge network of very smart, very talented people located here.
“We aren’t competing with billion dollar companies like Google and Apple for talent. We are able to get quality people at a lower cost.” Shah explained.
The pair absolutely recommends that more companies, especially tech companies, move out to Chicago.
“People are very supportive out here, they actually want you to succeed. In the Valley, it’s much more cut throat.” Shah says.
“Out here, you can consider your competitors your ‘frenemies.’” Linkner added.