Last November, Google began providing one-gigabit-per-second fiber optic internet service to homes in Kansas City, Kansas. These residents will be the first people in the world to test out Google’s new service. When Google first announced its nationwide Google Fiber project three years ago, over 1,000 cities and towns across the country applied for the chance to get the service, and Kansas City won. The new high-speed service carries data at speeds more than 100 times faster than the average American internet connection. One of the reasons Google chose Kansas City is because the city is home to many startups and tech-friendly organizations, such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship, which develops and generously supports numerous efforts to provide entrepreneurs the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to start and grow businesses.
Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs have taken notice of the high-speed connection and Kansas City has become the epicenter of a thriving startup community. Three things make the high-speed connection so attractive to startups: (1) it is relatively inexpensive; (2) engineers are able to upload large sequences of data almost instantaneously; and, (3) startup founders and executives are able to easily and seamlessly video chat with investors and partners all over the world. And one neighborhood in particular has become a hub of startup activity. Hanover Heights, part of a the community that has been called the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV), was the first neighborhood in Kansas City to receive access to Google’s high-speed internet, and the influx of startups and entrepreneurs that followed the installation has spawned what one venture capitalist has termed the “Homes for Hackers” program. The program offers serious entrepreneurs and their startups a rent-free home equipped with Google Fiber. Some startups have even purchased their own homes in KCSV in order to take advantage of Google’s high-speed internet connection and to foster an environment of collaboration.
Collaboration and sharing physical office space is particularly important to startups. While many businesses have been started and run successfully from anywhere in the world, startups are more likely to succeed in an environment where employees and/or founders are able to meet and interact in person. Google, Twitter, and Groupon are prime examples of startups that began in such a way. Risks of working remotely include, employees missing interaction with colleagues, employees becoming drained by extensive travel, and thus unhappy with their employment situation and more likely to be recruited by other companies.