Why Raleigh?

Written by Todd Olson  | 

4 min

 

Why Raleigh? It’s a question I get often when I share where Pendo is headquartered. I wish I had created an exhaustive spreadsheet and/or poll evaluating many cities and picked Raleigh on a set of conditions representing an optimal place to create a company. The truth is that I was recruited to Raleigh in 2001 by another great technology company that simply happened to be based here. Today, my family is firmly embedded in the community and have no interest in leaving. That’s why I’m here (and ultimately why Pendo is here).

These early questions admittedly made us a bit self-conscious about our location. Oddly, we had a San Francisco address on our website in 2014 — an address I had never seen or visited.  It was for optics, and candidly it was inauthentic. It felt bad to me. So in our rebranding, we removed this and embraced our hometown in our branding. Our customers had shared that our Southern hospitality made us unique amongst their partners and was seen as a strength — not a weakness.

Raleigh is part of the broader Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region (our airport is Raleigh-Durham) and is also referred to as Research Triangle or RTP. I’ll use RTP for this article for simplicity. RTP is an awesome place to start and run a company. If you did create a spreadsheet with criteria, RTP would rank very highly. It’s no coincidence that multiple outlets, Huffington Post and NYT, ranked Raleigh among the top locations for Amazon’s HQ2.

Here are my top reasons to be in the Triangle:

  • Surrounded by 3 top-tier universities.
    RTP is near NC State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina. These schools graduate around 20K students per year. More importantly, the schools attract interesting people and host a variety of cultural and artistic events that make the area a great place to live.
  • Solid and growing technology community.
    RTP was once known as home to second-largest IBM and Cisco facilities in the world — both companies still have a significant presence. Raleigh is home to SAS, Red Hat, and a large Citrix facility. Tech is the largest sector in the region. While we don’t have a set of unicorns, yet, we have a strong foundation with large companies and a burgeoning startup community centered around co-working facilities like HQ Raleigh and the American Underground in Durham.
  • Affordable.
    Today, you need to be a multi-millionaire to own a small home in the Bay Area. This creates extra pressure and stress that frankly impacts individuals ability to perform. The affordability creates shorter commutes which also decreases stress and improves quality of life. If you have a family, this is huge. Large commutes equal less time with family.
  • Metropolitan-enough.
    No RTP doesn’t have 40 Poke bowl restaurants. We have a few. We have a world-class performing arts center (DPAC). Amazing art museum (NCMA). We boast several James Beard award-winning chefs with restaurants. We have great craft beer, and we have Google Fiber.
  • Very liveable. The number one reaction I get when people first visit the region is how “green” it is. These people are referring to the density of trees. RTP is a beautiful place. The weather is generally good year-round supporting an outdoor lifestyle. We’re 2 hours from the beach and 4 hours from the mountains. There are plenty of opportunities for weekend trips.

It’s likely ironic that I’m authoring this post as I travel across the country to the Bay Area — my 2nd of 3 consecutive weeks of travel there. Also, Pendo has opened an office in San Francisco in August that now employs 6 full-time employees. I’m a big believer that you can start a company anywhere. And if you are in the technology industry at some point you will likely want and need a presence in the Bay Area.