Utah’s Silicon Slopes begins to resemble San Francisco’s Silicon Valley

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Business and tech networking groups like 1MillionCups pictured here have become more common in Utah as the tech industry has significantly grown over the past decade.
1MillionCups meets at The Startup Building on Wednesday mornings, as shown here. Business and tech networking groups like 1MillionCups have become more common in Utah as the technology industry has grown over the past decade. (Chris Padilla Photo)

Silicon Valley is the birthplace of some of America’s most successful technology companies and home to some of America’s most driven entrepreneurs. With a resume such as Google, Apple, Tesla, Facebook, Uber and Ebay, it’s no surprise that this California valley has risen to be arguably the No. 1 location in America to thrive in the technology industry.

The growing technology industry in Utah has recently earned the area a budding business reputation of its own, as well as the nickname Silicon Slopes. Notable Utah technology companies such as Domo, InsideSales, Vivint, Qualtrics, and MX, many of which were founded in the past 15 years, have begun to shine light on the state and the opportunities that lie within.

Owner of the Utah Valleybased social commerce app Giftry Brandon Wright said the Silicon Slopes nickname ties the area back to Silicon Valley and associates Utah with the idea of a technology startup hub.

“The startup community here wants Utah to continue to grow and become one of the places tech companies and startups look to bring their businesses to,” Wright said.

Wright said he believes Utah is seen as one of the best technology and startup areas outside of the major metropolitan cities.

“I think (Utah) is in a position that (Silicon Valley) was in 20-30 years ago” Wright said. “If it continues on its track, I could see it becoming another major tech/startup hub.”

 

Byte Foods has recently raised 5.5 million dollars to popularize its smart vending machines.
An employee at Byte Foods demonstrates how the smart vending machine recognizes when food is taken from it. Byte Foods is one of many tech startups in Silicon Valley that have been able to successfully raise funding. (Byte Foods Photo)

Christian Eilert-Olsen, a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a partner at the smart vending machine company Byte Foods, which recently raised $5 million in fundingsaid the area is all that it’s dreamed up to be.

“I get exposed to all types of companies,” Eilert-Olsen said. In this area, there are so many good people trying to do good things and solve real problems.”

Eilert-Olsen said Silicon Valley has a significant advantage over other parts of the country, particularly because people are so willing to adapt and try new technology. The supply of willing investors makes the area ideal for an innovative company such as his.

“Raising money is relatively easy if you have a decent idea,” Eilert-Olsen said. There are a lot of firms that have international and worldwide exposure here that you couldn’t as easily find anywhere else.”

Although Utah’s technology scene may not have the history of Silicon Valley, several elements make it an attractive location, such as several local universities and a growing startup culture. 

Wright said there is an increasing amount of opportunities to raise capital in the area, but many institutional investors in the area still have an old school mentality and are very risk-adverse.

Chris Padilla takes a photo of 1Million Cups as the group gives applause after a presentation. 1MillionCups typically has several different entrepreneurs present weekly. (Chris Padilla Photo)

“Historically, Provo and surrounding areas have been relatively inexpensive, which allows for startups that couldn’t exceed elsewhere to succeed here,” said Chris Padilla, a Utah technology authority who heads Provo’s 1MillionCups, a weekly entrepreneur meetup. “As long as you have that and BYU, UVU, (University of Utah) and (Utah State University) bringing in young vibrant minds to the area, this is a great place to start.”

Wright and Padilla agree that the name Silicon Slopes itself is more of a branding effort than a widely recognized title, but the title brings attention to Utah’s thriving technology community.

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