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It’s a missing ingredient in the lives of many heartland entrepreneurs, the secret sauce of personal connections that can help transform ambition to success. It’s advice, know-how, a willingness and ability to make key introductions. It’s mentorship and friendship.

J.D. Vance, author of bestseller Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, describes how after leaving Appalachia and making his way to Yale Law School he discovered the value of a professional network, or what he calls access to “social capital.” There, a professor provided him life-changing counsel.

It’s hard to put a dollar value on that advice. It’s the kind of thing that continues to pay dividends. But make no mistake: The advice had tangible economic value. Social capital isn’t manifest only in someone connecting you to a friend or passing a résumé on to an old boss. It is also, or perhaps primarily, a measure of how much we learn through our friends, colleagues, and mentors.

Serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Patrick McKenna describes this as heartland entrepreneurs needing to find ways to tap into “demand signals:”

I looked at Youngstown and asked ‘Why isn’t this place hopping?’ This place is completely isolated. They can find local money, but they can’t access ‘the network’ to tap into the right people and the right ideas to find the right demand signals.

Efforts to connect emerging tech ecosystems to Silicon Valley are central to speeding up the development of social capital. So, too, are entrepreneurial successes and strong exits for investors, which prime the pump for more success — and more social capital.

Please send feedback, news tips, or story suggestions to me via email — and be sure to bookmark our Heartland Tech Channel.

Thanks for reading,

Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video, “Defying Bloomberg,” which explores the value of teaching coal miners (and others) to code software and how it improves diversity for the tech industry.

From the Heartland Tech Channel

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Local tech ecosystems: Stop comparing yourselves to Silicon Valley

From Silicon Alley to Silicon Beach, existing tech hubs and emerging ones long to be seen like the Valley: the self-proclaimed epicenter of all things tech. But why is that? When did living in San Francisco become a necessary prerequisite for being a startup founder or employee? As a New Yorker, I’m a bit biased […]

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This image shows Peter Hirshberg, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Tim O'Reilly held a conversation in May 2017 with San FrancisciBay Area entrepreneurs on connecting the middle of the country to Silicon Valley for growth.

Rep. Tim Ryan, Tim O’Reilly, and Peter Hirshberg want to connect Ohio with Silicon Valley

In May 2017 Ohio congressman Tim Ryan visited San Francisco to continue a dialogue with Bay Area entrepreneurs on connecting the middle of the country to Silicon Valley for growth. Rep. Ryan joined Maker City co-founder Peter Hirshberg in conversation with Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly media and author of the forthcoming book, WTF: What’s […]

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10 AI startups blossoming beyond Silicon Valley

As I was heading from Atlanta to San Francisco to talk about investing in artificial intelligence at MB 2017, it struck me how artificial intelligence may be the buzzword of this year. Every startup seems to need the “AI accessory” in their pitch. Alphabet declares itself an AI company. Investors are putting billions in artificial intelligence deals. Google launches an AI-investing special […]

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Beyond VB

Two surprise cities are the new top markets for tech jobs

Although Silicon Valley remains a stalwart tech hub, metros like Toronto and Atlanta are breaking into the rankings of the best markets for tech jobs, according to a new study. And smaller markets — say Madison, Wisconsin — are showing up as locales with momentum as they rapidly increase their small communities of tech workers. (via USA Today)

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Want a Tech Job Where You can Afford to Live? Here’s Where to Move

Planning on heading to the west coast to break into the tech hub of Silicon Valley? You might want to reconsider. Astronomical rent prices and an overinflated job market have drastically slowed down the tech boom in the Bay Area, and tech job seekers have chosen to settle in cities across the country to make their hard-earned paychecks go farther. Here are a few cities where quality of life is booming alongside tech job markets. (via Livability)

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Hey, Tech: You’d Do Well to Stop Ignoring Smaller Cities

The lack of diversity at tech companies is well-established: Less than 10 percent of workers at Google and LinkedIn are non-Asian minorities, for example, and only 31 percent of employees at Google are women. But the technology industry is guilty of another serious blunder that hasn’t spurred the same volume of national conversation: a lack of interest, and failure to invest, in the capacity of small and mid-sized cities to shape technology’s evolution. (via Wired)

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FinTech program earns participants’ esteem

In about two months since arriving in Little Rock, Alain Glanzman completely revolutionized WalletFi, his startup company participating in the second Financial Technology Accelerator program. WalletFi is one of 10 high-tech startups taking part in the FinTech Accelerator program. The 12-week program ends with demonstrations by the companies on July 26 at the Clinton Presidential Center. (via Arkansas Online)

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