Waxahachie, TX is a small, nondescript town between Dallas and Austin. The people who live there undoubtedly know it possesses its charms. Waxahachie is the birthplace of 90s R&B singer Tevin Campbell, and Tom Blasingame, the oldest cowboy in Texas history. If you’re like most techies, you would consider it “flyover country.”
I can’t imagine much reason to visit, unless you needed to buy gas. As a tourist, maybe. But as a business owner you ignore Waxahachie at your peril.
On our way to SXSW we drove through Waxahachie, and I was struck by its ordinariness, but also it’s importance for startups. SXSW is many things, It’s a showcase for bleeding edge, and–often–useless technology for its own sake. SXSW is a great place to see what apps the early adopters will be talking about for the next six months, but it’s not where you’re likely to encounter technology companies making life better for people in Waxahachie. With a population of just 29,000 it’s a small suburb, it looks like most of America.
A problem with far too many startups is that they see themselves as startups, as though this somehow excuses them from the need to be a business. You can sell to early adopters, get adoring press in the tech blogs, but if you can’t sell in Waxahachie, you’re not much of a business. At best, you’re a fad.
Internet technology has the power to reach people wherever they are. People in Waxahachie have real problems, and they’re willing to pay you to solve them. Ignore them, and you’re leaving money on the table. You may not be in startups to make money. You’re building companies to change the world. Hey, a lot of us are. There’s nothing wrong with grand ambition. But if you’re goal is to dent the Universe, and you haven’t rattled Waxahachie, you’ve still got a long way to go.
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