Freshbooks CEO Discusses Pros and Cons of Silicon Valley at Launch Fest

Freshbooks Mike McDermentEntrepreneur and Launch Fest keynote Mike McDerment knows how to be successful outside of Silicon Valley. He founded Freshbooks, a simple cloud-based accounting solution for small business owners and those who get paid for time and expertise, a decade ago in Toronto and has been operating solely from the city ever since.

His talk touched on the myth of Silicon Valley and the idea that a business can only find success in the area due to a mix of talent, capital and network. McDerment believes that while there are pros to starting a business in the sexy, tech-savvy hub, you can also be a high-growth success story elsewhere.

Below are the pros and cons McDerment discussed during the annual startup showcase and demo day at Launch Fest:


  1. Expertise

  2. Capital

  3. Network

  4. Senior Leadership

Cons (also known as the “things I would find terrifying,” as McDerment told the audience):

  1. Competitiveness

  2. High salaries

  3. No loyalty

  4. Heard mentality

  5. Echo Chamber

“All of these are great reasons not to be there,” explained McDerment. He encouraged the crowd to win at home and not be attracted to the lure of Silicon Valley when great companies and products can come out of New Orleans’ home turf.

His final advice to the New Orleans entrepreneurial crowd: start today. “If you can retain the mindset that New Orleans is a strong technology sector and keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to get there.” Although McDerment forewarned the successes and exits will not happen immediately, “it’s already well underway.”