Turn on, tune in, drop by the office

Turn on, tune in, drop by the office

  1. By Emma
  2. View Original August 1st, 2017

Every three days Nathan (not his real name), a 27-year-old venture capitalist in San Francisco, ingests 15 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (commonly known as LSD or acid). The microdose of the psychedelic drug – which generally requires at least 100 micrograms to cause a high – gives him the gentlest of buzzes. It makes him feel far more productive, he says, but nobody else in the office knows that he is doing it. “I view it as my little treat. My secret vitamin,” he says. “It’s like taking spinach and you’re Popeye.”
Nathan first started microdosing in 2014, when he was working for a startup in Silicon Valley. He would cut up a tab of LSD into small slices and place one of these on his tongue each time he dropped. His job involved pitching to investors. “So much of fundraising is storytelling, being persuasive, having enough conviction. Microdosing is pretty fantastic for being a volume knob for that, for amplifying that.” He partly credits the angel investment he secured during this period to his successful experiment in self-medication.
Of all the drugs available, psychedelics have long been considered among the most powerful and dangerous. When Richard Nixon launched the “war on drugs” in the 1970s, the authorities claimed LSD caused people to jump out of windows and fried users’ brains. When Ronald Reagan was the governor of California, which in 1966 was one of the first states to criminalise the drug, he argued that “anyone that would engage or indulge in [LSD] is just a plain fool”.
Yet attitudes towards psychedelics appear to be changing. According to a 2013 paper from two Norwegian researchers that used data from 2010, Americans aged between 30 and 34 – not the original flower children but the next generation – were the most likely to have tried LSD. An ongoing survey of middle-school and high-school students shows that drug use has fallen across the board among the young (as in most of the rich world). Yet, LSD use has recently risen a little, and the perceived risks of the drug fallen, among 13- to 17-year-olds.
As with many social changes, from transportation to food delivery to dating, Silicon Valley has blazed a trail with microdosing. It may yet influence the way that America, and eventually the West, view psychedelic substances.

LSD’s effects were discovered by accident. In April 1943 Albert Hoffmann, a Swiss scientist, mistakenly ingested a small amount of the chemical, which he had synthesised a few years earlier though never tested. Three days later he took 250 micrograms of the drug on purpose and had a thoroughly bad trip, but woke up the next day with a “sensation of well-being and renewed life”. Over the next decade, LSD was used recreationally by a select group of people, such as the writer Aldous Huxley. But not until it was mass produced in San Francisco in the 1960s did it fill the sails of the hippy movement and inspire the catchphrase “turn on, tune in and drop out”.
From the start, a small but significant crossover existed between those who were experimenting with drugs and the burgeoning tech community in San Francisco. “There were a group of engineers who believed there was a causal connection between creativity and LSD,” recalls John Markoff, whose 2005 book, “What the Dormouse Said”, traces the development of the personal-computer industry through 1960s counterculture. At one research centre in Menlo Park over 350 people – particularly scientists, engineers and architects – took part in experiments with psychedelics to see how the drugs affected their work. Tim Scully, a mathematician who, with the chemist Nick Sand, produced 3.6m tabs of LSD in the 1960s, worked at a computer company after being released from his ten-year prison sentence for supplying drugs. “Working in tech, it was more of a plus than a minus that I worked with LSD,” he says. No one would turn up to work stoned or high but “people in technology, a lot of them, understood that psychedelics are an extremely good way of teaching you how to think outside the box.”
San Francisco appears to be at the epicentre of the new trend, just as it was during the original craze five decades ago. Tim Ferriss, an angel investor and author, claimed in 2015 in an interview with CNN that “the billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis.” Few billionaires are as open about their usage as Ferriss suggests. Steve Jobs was an exception: he spoke frequently about how “taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life”. In Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography, the Apple CEO is quoted as joking that Microsoft would be a more original company if Bill Gates, its founder, had experienced psychedelics.
As Silicon Valley is a place full of people whose most fervent desire is to be Steve Jobs, individuals are gradually opening up about their usage – or talking about trying LSD for the first time. According to Chris Kantrowitz, the CEO of Gobbler, a cloud-storage company, and the head of a new fund investing in psychedelic research, people were refusing to talk about psychedelics as recently as three years ago. “It was very hush hush, even if they did it.” Now, in some circles, it seems hard to find someone who has never tried it.
LSD works by interacting with serotonin, the chemical in the brain that modulates mood, dreaming and consciousness. Once the drug enters the brain (no mean feat), it hijacks the serotonin 2A receptor, explains Robin Carhart-Harris, a scientist at Imperial College London who is among those mapping out the effects of psychedelics using brain-scanning technology. The 2A receptor is most heavily expressed in the cortex, the part of the brain in which consciousness could be said to reside. One of the first effects of psychedelics such as LSD is to “dissolve a sense of self,” says Carhart-Harris. This is why those who have taken the drug sometimes describe the experience as mystical or spiritual.
The drug also seems to connect previously isolated parts of the brain. Scans from Carhart-Harris’s research, conducted with the Beckley Foundation in Oxford, show a riot of colour in the volunteers’ brains, compared with those who have taken a placebo. The volunteers who had taken LSD did not just process those images they had actually seen in their visual cortexes; instead many other parts of the brain started processing visions, as though the subject was seeing things with their eyes shut. “The brain becomes more globally interconnected,” says Carhart-Harris. The drug, by acting on the serotonin receptor, seems to increase the excitability of the cortex; the result is that the brain becomes far “more open”.

direct-2017-11-23-14-371.jpgAll lit up These four cross-sections of a brain show that, under LSD

Photo by: row two

In an intensely competitive culture such as Silicon Valley, where everyone is striving to be as creative as possible, the ability for LSD to open up minds is particularly attractive. People are looking to “body hack”, says Kantrowitz: “How do we become better humans, how do we change the world?” One CEO of a small startup describes how, on an away-day with his company, everyone took magic mushrooms. It allowed them to “drop the barriers that would typically exist in an office”, have “heart to hearts”, and helped build the “culture” of the company. (He denied himself the pleasure of partaking so that he could make sure everyone else had a good time.) Eric Weinstein, the managing director of Thiel Capital, told Rolling Stone magazine last year that he wants to try and get as many people to talk openly about how they “directed their own intellectual evolution with the use of psychedelics as self-hacking tools”.
Young developers and engineers, most of them male, seem to be particularly keen on his form of bio-hacking. Alex (also not his real name), a 27-year-old data scientist who takes acid four or five times a year, feels psychedelics give him a “wider perspective” on his life. Drugs are a way to take a break, he says, particularly in a culture where people are “super hyper focused” on their work. A typical pursuit among many millennial workers, along with going to drug-fuelled music festivals or the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, is for a group of friends to rent a place in the countryside, take LSD or magic mushrooms and go for a hike (some call it a “hike-a-delic”). “I would be much more wary of telling co-workers I had done coke the night before than saying I had done acid on the weekend,” says Mike (yet another pseudonym), a 25-year-old researcher at the University of California in San Francisco, who also takes LSD regularly. It is seen as something “worthwhile, wholesome, like yoga or wholegrain”.
The quest for spiritual enlightenment – as with much else in San Francisco – is fuelled by the desire to increase productivity. Microdosing is one such product of this calculus. Interest in the topic first started to take off around 2011, when Jim Fadiman, a psychologist who took part in the experiments in Menlo Park in the 1960s, published a book on psychedelics and launched a website on the topic. “Microdosing is popular among the technologically aware, physically healthy set,” says Fadiman. “Because they are interested in science, nutrition and their own brain chemistry.” Microdoses, he claims, can also decrease social awkwardness. “I meet a lot of these people. They are not the most adept social class in the world.” Paul Austin has also written a book on microdosing and lectures on the subject across Europe and America. Many of the people he speaks to are engineers, business owners, writers and “digital nomads” looking for ways to outrun automation in the “new economy”. Drugs that “make you think differently” are one route to survival, he says.
Although data on the number of people microdosing are non-existent, since drug surveys do not ask about it, a group on Reddit now has 16,000 members, up from a couple of thousand a year ago. People post about their experiences, and most of them follow Fadiman’s suggestion of taking up to ten micrograms every three days or so. “My math is slightly better, I swear. Or maybe it’s just my confidence, either way, I am more aware, creative and have amazing ideas,” says one user, answering an inquiry about whether there is correlation between intelligence and microdosing. “I feel less ADHD, greater focus,” says another user. He can identify “no bad habits [except] maybe I speak my mind more and offend people because I am very smart and often put people down with condescending remarks by accident.”
Microdosing is the logical conclusion of several trends, thinks Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a research and lobby group. For a start, many of those who took acid in the 1960s are still around, having turned into well-preserved baby-boomers. “Now, at the end of their lives, they can say that these drugs were valuable. They are not all on a commune, growing soybeans, dropping out,” he says.
Another reason for the trend is that, although there have been no scientific studies on microdosing, research on psychedelics has suggested that they may, in certain settings, have therapeutic uses. The increasing use of marijuana for medical use, and its legalisation in many states, has also led to people looking at drugs more favourably. “There’s no longer this intense fervour about drugs being dreadful,” says Doblin. Last year a study of 51 terminally ill cancer patients carried out by scientists at Johns Hopkins University appeared to suggest that a single, large dose of psilocybin – another psychedelic and the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – reduced anxiety and depression in most participants. This helps encourage those who may normally be wary of taking drugs to experiment with them, or to take them in lower, less terrifying doses. Ayelet Waldman, a writer who microdosed for a month on LSD and wrote a book documenting her experiences, makes much of the fact she is a mother, a professional and used to work with drug offenders. She is not your typical felon. (Indeed, she gave up the drug after that month, in order to stop breaking the law. But “there is no doubt in my mind that if it were legal I would be doing it,” she says.)
The availability of legal substitutes for LSD in certain parts of the world has also made microdosing far easier. Erica Avey, who works for Clue, a Berlin-based app which tracks women’s menstrual cycles, started microdosing in April with 1P-LSD, a related drug, which is still legal in Germany. Although she took it to balance her moods, she quickly found that it also helped her with her work. It made her “sharper, more aware of what my body needs and what I need,” she says. She now gets to work earlier in the morning, at 8am, when she is most productive, and leaves in the afternoon when she has a slump in energy. “At work I am more socially present. You are not really caught up in the past and the future. For meetings it’s great,” she enthuses.
LSD is not thought to be addictive. Although people who use it regularly build up a tolerance, there is not the same “reward” that users of heroin and alcohol, two deeply addictive drugs, seek through increasing their dosages. “They are not moreish drugs,” says Carhart-Harris. The buzz of psychedelics is more abstract than other drugs, such as cocaine, which tend to make people feel good about themselves. Those who have good experiences with hallucinogens report an enhanced connection to the world (they take up veganism; they feel more warmly towards their families). Most people who microdose insist that, although they make a habit of taking it, they do not feel dependent. “With coffee you need a cup to feel normal,” says Avey. “I would never need LSD to feel normal.” She may quit later this year, having reaped enough beneficial effects. Many talk of a sense in which the dose, even though it is almost imperceptibly small, seems to stay with them. Often they feel best on the second or third day after ingestion. “I’ve definitely experienced the same levels of creativity without taking it…you retain it,” says Nathan.
The effects of microdosing depend on the environment and the work one is doing. It will not automatically improve matters. Since moving to an office with less natural light, Nathan has not found LSD as effective, although he still takes it every three days or so. Similarly, Avey doubts it would be as useful if she did not have a job she liked and a “cool work environment” (with an in-house therapist and yoga classes). Carhart-Harris raises the potential issue of “containment”. Whereas beneficial effects of psychedelics can be seen in thera­peutic environments, the spaces in which people microdose are much more diverse. A crowded subway car or an irritating meeting can become more unbearable; not every effect will be a positive one.


Currently the lack of medical research on microdosing means that it has been touted as a panacea for everything from depression and menstrual pain to migraines and impotence. The only problem that people do not try to solve through microdosing is anxiety. Since these drugs tend to heighten people’s perceptions, they are likely to exacerbate anxiety. Without more research, it is hard to know whether such a small amount of a psychedelic works merely as a placebo, and whether there are any long-term detrimental consequences, such as addiction.
There is still an understandable fear of LSD, and it is unlikely to migrate from Silicon Valley to America’s more conservative regions anytime soon. But in a country which is awash with drugs, microdosing with an illicit substance may not seem so outlandish, particularly among the middle-classes. Already many Americans are happy to medicalise productivity. In 2011 3.5m children were prescribed drugs to treat attention disorders, up from 2.5m in 2003, and these drugs are widely used off prescription to enhance performance at work. By one estimate, 12% of the population takes an antidepressant. Americans also try to eliminate pain, mental or otherwise, by other means; the opioid epidemic has partly been caused by massive over-prescription of painkillers. Compared with these, LSD – which is almost impossible to overdose on – may no longer seem so threatening. It may help people tune in, but it no longer has the reputation of making them drop out.
This article has been amended to add a credit to the Beckley Foundation in Oxford

To Come Up with a Good Idea, Start by Imagining the Worst Idea Possible

To Come Up with a Good Idea, Start by Imagining the Worst Idea Possible

  1. By Ayse
  2. View Original
  3. August 16th, 2017

There are many creative tools a designer uses to think differently, but none is more counter-intuitive than “wrong thinking,” also called reverse thinking. Wrong thinking is when you intentionally think of the worst idea possible — the exact opposite of the accepted or logical solution, ideas that can get you laughed at or even fired — and work back from those to find new ways of solving old problems.
For example, one of the most important discoveries in the sequencing of the human genome came from Fred Sanger who reversed his process to achieve a breakthrough. As explained by Siddharta Mukerjee in his book The Gene, Sanger “turned his own strategy upside down and tried to buildDNA, rather than break it down.” His wrong thinking led to his second Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1980 for contributions in genetic sequencing.
The great Argentinian chef Francois Mallmann, featured on Netflix’s documentary series Chef’s Table, left the comfort of his restaurants to cook in the wild in Patagonia, with no kitchen or sous chefs, traveling with a group of young novices who have little or no experience. He calls it “gypsy chefs,” a team that roams. His wrong thinking about what a chef does and how he does it has allowed Mallmann to create incredibly unique culinary experiences that could never happen in a traditional restaurant setting.
During my “Design the Work You Love” workshop, Mickey McManus, AutoDesk research fellow and Chairman of Maya Design, shared an experiment in reverse thinking that captured my imagination. McManus essentially switched roles with his intern Lisa Rotzinger — Lisa became the boss, and Mickey an “exit-level intern.” As Mickey explained it, “Our role as a leader is to be the superhero, fly in and save the day. But the best thing you can do is serve other people. I thought, what if my role is that of the sidekick, getting obstacles out of their way and letting the superhero learn to fly.” When Lisa started at Autodesk, McManus gave her a sticky note with topics for her to research: Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, and Generative Design. He told her that her task is to “discover things I don’t know” and left her to be her own boss for two weeks while he traveled. When he returned, her findings turned out to be much more provocative than either had expected. They applied her discoveries to an Autodesk research project called Primordial, and at McManus’s urging, it was Lisa who presented the project to 400 top executives and clients.
McManus’s reframing of leadership — the leader as the sidekick, the intern as the superhero — embodies three powerful principles that enable innovation and discovery.
1. Be the beginner. A favorite koan from the zen master Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Being the beginner shifts our perspective and, as the koan states, opens up our mind to possibilities. As a beginner, you listen more. You’re more inquisitive and interested in learning from everyone, including people who are younger or have less experience. We give ourselves permission to learn constantly. As Mickey found out, this humility pays off.
Lisa’s provocative insights, enabled by her newcomer’s perspective, opened up McManus’s mind to new ideas. He was inspired. McManus calls his new position the “exit-level intern,” rather than an entry-level one, someone who is there to learn like a novice even though they might have the most experience. To recognize how innovative this approach is, just imagine telling your intern or most junior employee that come Monday, you are their intern.
2. Grant agency. Listening to people, rather than telling them what you think they need to do, gives others agency to investigate, apply their ideas, draw their own conclusions. What are the obstacles standing in the way of your team? Having a bird’s eye view (or in this case, a sidekick’s view) gives you the advantage of seeing roadblocks or challenges, while putting team members in the superhero role makes them agents to solve their own problems.
Dara Dotz is removing obstacles to rapid recovery in humanitarian disasters with her NGO, Field Ready. Rather than relying on slow, expensive supply chains to import disaster relief, Field Ready empowers people in disaster-struck areas with the technology and expertise to make life-saving and life-sustaining supplies onsite. To help disaster victims realize their own recovery, Field Ready teams begin by listening. Suddenly the victim is the superhero and the designers and engineers are the sidekick, collaborating together to find the best solutions. Empowering your team with agency allows everyone to offer solutions and innovate, just as McManus did with Lisa by listening to her findings, encouraging her involvement in the work and, eventually, giving her the spotlight to do the final presentation.
3. Do away with hierarchy. The superhero-sidekick relationship Mickey set up with Lisa eliminated expected hierarchy. He had her sit next to the CEO, and enabled her to wander around and ask questions to everyone, including the CEO and the CTO. He asked her to teach him stuff, and had her give the big presentation at the end of the project. Mickey said, “Lisa nailed the presentation — 23-years-old, and she gave a presentation to 400 top executives, including our most important customers, that was riveting to watch.” When we allow those at the lowest rung of the career ladder to take on the superhero role, and step back ourselves to learn from them, the best ideas can rise to the top.
Lisa stayed for an extra semester of internship at Autodesk before going back to school. She has since graduated and is joining Autodesk full-time as a strategist. Mickey continues to be a superhero who acts as the sidekick, acknowledging what he doesn’t know and always learning along the way. Remember, the key to wrong thinking is coming up with a seemingly bad idea to challenge the status quo, pushing ourselves to imagine new and disruptive ideas, beyond our own preconceptions. When we give ourselves permission to have bad ideas, we often come up with the best ones.

10 Best Cities For Startups You’ll Want to Be Based In
10 Best Cities For Startups You’ll Want to Be Based In
 August 14, 2017Dave Nevogt

When you hear the word ‘startup,’ your first thought is probably ‘San Francisco.’ While the Bay Area is undoubtedly the center of the startup boom in the U.S., the landscape is changing. So, why would you want to base your remote company elsewhere?
Budding companies and job seekers alike are starting to avoid San Francisco because of factors such as the high living costs and the lowering quality of life. Instead, business founders are opting for cities that offer diversity and new opportunities, yet don’t suffocate startups with inflated pricing and overcrowding. While the location is not that important for determining, say, distributed teams’ salaries, owners of remote companies also choose the city to launch their business carefully.
Cost of living, availability of talent, and access to industry information and strategic connections are just some of the factors that you’d want to evaluate. As the hub of your activity, the place you’re based in should meet both your personal and business needs.
We have to admit that not every city is as exciting as San Francisco. Yet a number of places across the country offer beneficial conditions for basing your remote company without sacrificing a rich cultural life and plenty of networking possibilities. Here’s a list of ten great cities you can launch your business in.
Seattle is well-known among corporate pioneers such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks, all of which launched their business there. The West Coast city is renowned for its creative people, as well as its spirit of innovation and change.

While there are no special tax incentives for new businesses, the living costs in Seattle are significantly lower than in the Bay Area, so you can keep your overhead expenses under control. The city boasts an impressive mentoring network, as well as private investment options, as well as startup incubators and accelerators such as 9Mile Labs and SURF Incubator.
Seattle is renowned for its creative people, as well as its spirit of innovation and change.

With more than 30 co-working spaces in the Emerald City, you won’t be short of options for meeting interesting new people or organizing your monthly remote team get-together. Seattle is also historically known for its bustling music and arts scene, which you can enjoy when you base your remote business there.
Portland, Oregon
Portland, another West Coast entrepreneurial hub, is already known for its thriving small businesses and its passion for green living. It’s one of the best places in the country for launching tech and non-tech startups alike. A number of founders have already relocated from the Bay Area to enjoy the opportunities of the new entrepreneurial territory.

Portland is among the top cities in the U.S. in terms of resources available to small businesses. Its living costs are comparatively low, making it a suitable base for newly founded companies. It was ranked fifth in terms of established small businesses in 2015. For every 100,000 Portland area residents, there are 1,113 budding companies. One of the main propellers of startup activity are the Portland Incubator Experiment and the Portland Seed Fund, which have provided the basis for more than 60 companies already.
In Portland, you can be sure that your remote team meetup will be a great experience.
Besides its business benefits, the City of Roses is famous for its culture and events scene. Let’s not forget Portland’s numerous microbreweries and micro-distilleries. You can be sure that your remote team meetup or industry convention will be a great experience.
Austin ranks as the fourth most affordable city in the U.S. to launch a tech startup in terms of rent and wages. Its business climate is friendly to small businesses, with Texas having no individual or corporate income taxes. A tech startup scene has already sprung in the city, so you won’t be alone when you launch your company.

If you’re looking for local talent for your team, you can also count on young graduates from the University of Texas, which is based in town. Austin has great incubators and accelerators so you can get mentorship from professionals, as well as great networking opportunities. The city is the home of the SXSW conference as well, which attracts thousands of entrepreneurs every year.
Looking for local talent? You can count on graduates from the University of Texas.
Austin is often called the live music capital of the world because of its abundance of music venues, as well as festivals. It’s known for its alternative culture and a lively university scene – a place you won’t get tired of living in.
Another city in Texas certainly belongs on this list – Dallas. It ranks as the sixth most affordable place to launch a tech startup in the country according to a CBRE report. It’s also the hometown of 25 billionaires, a number of Fortune 500 companies, and 50+ higher education institutions.

In the last few years, Dallas has grown into an unexpected entrepreneurial hub. With great networking events such as the Dallas Open Coffee Club and Dallas New Tech, integrating into the local startup community is easy. The ecosystem is still rather small, which means you can make a difference in its development.
With events like the Dallas Open Coffee Club, integrating into the community is easy.
With its arts district, numerous museums, and a vibrant music scene, the city has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle too. And let’s not forget the State Fair of Texas, which takes place in Dallas, is the biggest one in the country, so entertainment is certainly abundant.
Denver boasts a great business climate, and its central-west location makes it a convenient hub for companies of all industries and sizes. It has been a favorite startup location since 2010, when it ranked fourth in the U.S. In fact, it has been on the list ever since 1990, when it took the ninth position.

Denver is especially attractive for overworked employees and startup founders looking for a change of scenery. Many of them have escaped the craziness of the Bay Area and want to focus at one thing at a time. This means you can get access to an impressive talent pool. There are also quite a few incubators and accelerators in Colorado, many of which are based in Denver and in the startup hot spot — Boulder.
Denver makes the list due to access to an impressive talent pool in the metro area and outer cities.
The Queen City of the West offers enviable living conditions, with affordable rental costs and a laid-back atmosphere around town. Denver’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains makes it a great place to be based in if you enjoy hiking and weekends in the nature.
San Diego
Despite its proximity to the Bay Area, San Diego is the tenth cheapest city to start a tech company in the U.S. according to CBRE. For every 100,000 citizens, there are 155 startups. Besides its affordability, the ‘Silicon Beach’ city attracts a ton of investments. In 2015, they amounted to $1.28 billion.

With its low startup costs, San Diego is a great choice for launching a remote company. The startup ecosystem is thriving, with plenty of incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces, providing you with much needed mentorship and contacts. Local talent is also abundant and not as difficult to hire as in San Francisco.
Events like the San Diego Startup Week will surely keep you busy.

San Diego’s craft breweries are on the rise, and events like the San Diego Startup Week will surely keep you busy. The city also hosts various exhibitions and live music events, festivals, and theater plays. With its great weather, San Diego offers entrepreneurs great quality of life on top of the business opportunities.
In 2016, the 1776 startup incubator from Washington, D.C. named Boston the top city to launch a startup. The rating was based on factors such as access to funding, availability of skilled employees, ecosystem connectivity, and population density and lifestyle.

Top universities are based in the Boston area, including MITHarvard, and University of Massachusetts. This means there are plenty of young professionals in the city who can feed into your talent pool. The startup scene is also promising. You can apply for tens of Boston accelerators and incubators, which help with mentoring and networking opportunities.
The living costs in Boston are more affordable, plus the conditions offer a higher quality of life.
The living costs in Boston are more affordable, plus the conditions offer a higher quality of life for entrepreneurs than the Bay Area. The city is known for its love of good food and beer, as well as thrilling sports events.
With one of the strongest startup ecosystems in the U.S., Chicago is a great alternative to San Francisco for launching your business. In 2015, the city had 105 entries on the Inc 5000 list of fast-developing companies.

Between 2011 and 2015, 40,000 new tech jobs were created in the Windy City. Diverse industries have chosen Chicago as their base, from airplane builders to shared vehicle services. The startup community is close and supportive, with a number of quality incubators and accelerators contributing to its development. The city is also rich in co-working spaces, so you’ll never get lonely if you’re the only person on your remote team who’s based in Chicago.
In 2015, Chicago had 105 entries on the Inc 5000 list of fast-developing companies.
Beyond the Chicago-style hot dog, the city can offer you a lot in terms of arts, culture and music. As the birthplace of blues, jazz and hip hop stars, it’s never short of great live events. Chicago is also the center of improvisational comedy, which was born as a genre there. If you’re organizing a team building get-togetheryour remote teammates will surely stay entertained.
The capital of North Carolina ranks as the second cheapest city to base a tech startup according to the 2015 CBRE report. Raleigh-Durham was on founders’ lists already in 2010 because of its numerous accelerators and incubators, as well as its closely-knit startup community.

The Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill area is known as the Research Triangle Park, with a number of technological hubs based there. It’s one of the largest research parks worldwide and has its roots in the three top universities located in each of the cities: Duke UniversityNorth Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Basing your remote company there means you can get access to some of the smartest people in the country – be it for mentorship or partnerships.
Basing your company in Raleigh means getting access to some of the smartest people in the country.
Besides the affordable living costs, which means better conditions for less, Raleigh is situated less than an hour away from the Wrightsville and Carolina beaches – and a couple of hours from the Smoky Mountains and a number of great hike trails.
New York City
While the living costs are not much lower in NYC than in the Bay Area, the Big Apple still has a strong attracting force for startup founders. New York is a place where things just happen, so there will always be a ton of networking opportunities, interesting events, and potential hires.

The startup ecosystem has developed greatly in the last couple of years. Today you can count on tens of great incubators and accelerators based in the city. They can provide you with support when you launch your business, as well as with useful connections that can help its development. Plus, your remote colleagues will always be glad to make a trip to NYC and spend some time together with the team.
Your remote colleagues will always be glad to make a trip to NYC and see the sights.
The city can offer you much more than that, especially if you’re a cosmopolitan person (and can handle the stress of living in a metropolis). The place overflows with artistic, musical, and cultural events organized by people from every point of the world. You just have to embrace the chaos that goes along with the thrill.
Which is your city of choice?
How did you decide where to base your business? What were the factors that brought you to your current city? Your insights are priceless for all the follow remote company founders out there. Thank you for sharing them!
Dave Nevogt
Dave Nevogt is the co-founder of Hubstaff and focuses on growth. Dave has founded several multi-million dollar businesses and lives in Indianapolis. He writes a blog series that teaches everything his team does to grow Hubstaff and free training on how to build a remote team

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e-commerce Blogs

62 Must-Follow Blogs For Anyone in E-Commerce
A business really flourishes when there is always an inflow of knowledge. In the digital world, blogs are a major source of learning for any type of business, including e-commerce.
However, it’s hard to catch up with the volume of information and knowledge on e-commerce online, therefore, we thought that listing down the major ecommerce blogs to follow make perfect sense for all sizes of e-commerce companies out there!
We have prepared a huge list of e-commerce blogs to follow related to online marketing, payment, e-commerce in general and optimization. We have also listed their popular articles, so you can have an idea about the blog.
Don’t forget to bookmark the article as you may want to check it later.
And as you know, we are always open to hear your suggestions.

ps: Here is the shortest way to follow all of these blogs in Twitter.

A blog of strategic growth for online retailers.
Popular Articles & Podcasts:
How Bikini Luxe Drive Sales from Social Media Content & Influencers w/ Candice Galek
Yacht Harbour: Organic Instagram Growth, 0 to 42K followers in 12 months

A Better Lemonade Stand – Blog
It’s the blog of the e-commerce incubator of Richard Lazazzera – who is also included in our e-commerce influencers to follow list – that helps make each of thousand decisions easier. Covers reliable advices, detailed articles and the list of tools to use related to e-commerce.
Popular Articles:
A Better Brand: E-commerce Branding Guide
The Ultimate Shipping Strategy Cheat Sheet

Backlinko – Blog
SEO is one of the key factors in inbound marketing and Backlinko is one of the sources you should keep on mind when it comes to e-commerce SEO. Brian Dean – the founder of the blog – is popular with his listings and lengthy articles.
Popular Articles:
Google’s 200 Racking Factors: The Complete List
SEO Tools: The Complete List

BigCommerce – Blog
The BigCommerce blog delivers news, strategy and success stories to power 2 times growth for scaling brands. With their free ebooks, you can learn the latest e-commerce trends and tips related to marketing.
Popular Articles:
Ecommerce Trends: 128 Stats Revealing How Modern Consumers Shop
Increasing Sales Beyond Your Ecommerce Website: Channel – Specific Distribution Strategies

Blueacorn – Blog
Blueacorn is an e-commerce agency dedicated to integrating intelligence into the design and optimization services. Their blog provides articles related to online marketing, optimization and news related to Magento.
Popular Articles:
Pro Tips on Upgrading Your Optimization Strategy
11 Tips for Better Ecommerce Email Marketing

Blue Stout – Blog
Blue Stout is a development company specializing in traction related to e-commerce companies. Their blog covers articles related to a/b testing, Shopify optimization and responsive design.
Popular Articles:
Increase Your Store Revenue 300% with the Ecommerce Site Personalization App. Used by Patagonia, Bonobos & Vineyard Vines
How to Migrate Your Ecommerce Site to Shopify Plus

Bootstrapping Ecommerce
A blog features articles on working with tight budgets to help people with ecommerce marketing. Topics like SEO, PPC, Social Media are included.
Popular Articles:
14 Ideas For Your Store’s Blog
E-commerce Fraud Prevention

Brainsins – Blog
Brainsins is a company focused on helping online retailers to boost their sales by means of personalization. Articles related to product recommendations and online marketing can be found on their blog.
Popular Articles:
Top 10 Ecommerce Markets: Statistics and Trends
How to Boost Your Marketing ROI With Competitive Pricing & Assortment Intelligence

Buffer – Blog
Thoughts on every aspect of social media like converting, analyzing and creating.
Popular Articles:
7 Powerful Social Media Experiments That Grew Our Traffic by 241% in 8 Months
15 New Social Media Templates to Save You Even More Time With Your Marketing

Commerce Brain – Blog
Covers e-commerce in general from pricing to increasing sales.
Popular Articles:
10 E-commerce Merchandising Real Offers
5 Tips to Set Competitive Prices for Your Online Store

Conversion Voodoo
Articles related to landing page optimization and tips.
Popular Articles:
5 Design Principles Nearly 95% of Websites Screwup
7 Email Marketing Hacks to Improve Your Conversion Rates

Conversion XL – Blog
Peep Laja – the founder of Conversion XL – shares articles related to optimization and conversion rate improvement. In his blog, there are free resources and case studies too.
Popular Articles:
Google Analytics Health Check
Common Growth Hacking Myths

CPC Strategy – Blog
CPC Strategy is a retail-focused search agency and its blog is one of the sources to follow for having a deep knowledge about paid search through Google Ads, Facebook Ads and other advertisement platforms.
Popular Articles:
Everything You Need to Know About Pinterest Promoted Pins
Facebook Paid Advertising Tips to Increase Revenue

Divante – Blog
Covers articles related to e-commerce implementation.
Popular Articles:
Is Magento the Right Platform for B2B eCommerce
Introducing: Roundtable Ecommerce

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Dynamic Yield – Blog
Personalization and conversion optimization blog.
Popular Articles:
Increase Conversions by 267% Using Exit Intent Overlays
Dynamic Yield Personalizes Experiences for 500 Million Users per Month

eCommerce Fuel
E-commerce Fuel is a community for high 6 and 7 figure plus store owners and the founder of the community is Andrew Youderian – he is also included in our influencers list. They share articles related to e-commerce market as a whole from online marketing to drop shipping.
Popular Articles:
Migrating to Shopify from Magento: The Results of Our 50.000$ Design
The SEO Mistake That Wipe Out 80% of My Traffic

Ecommerce Illustrated
It’s a blog of Linda Bustos – ex GetElastic writer. She shares articles related to the optimization of every pages of an e-commerce site from home page to checkout.
Popular Articles:
24 Tips for Optimizing Product Detail Pages
Ecommerce Guide to Site Navigation

Ecommerce Influence
Ecommerce Influence is an online agency whose aim is to help ecommerce shop owners progress from selling their first product to running their first business. In their blog they cover articles related to online marketing.
Popular Articles:
Advice for Growing Your Ecommerce Business to $20MM
Generating $80k/mo with Youtube Influencer Marketing

Ecommerce Nation
E-Commerce Nation is a collaborative community dedicated to helping E-Commerce business owners at an international scale. They cover news, tips, and tools for the benefit of international e-commerce community.
Popular Articles:
Everything you ever needed to know about SEO for e-commerce
How to Optimize Merchandising for E-Commerce

Ecommerce Platforms
Ecommerce Platforms is an unbiased review site that shows the good, great, bad, and ugly of online store building software. Catalin Zorzini is the founder of this project and he aims to share the right e-commerce platform in an objective way.
Popular Articles:
Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms: Shopify vs Volusion vs Big Commerce vs Big Cartel vs 3dcart
7 Best Free WordPress Ecommerce Plug-ins

Ecommerce UX Design
Provides the best UX practices and tips.
Popular Articles:
Design Tips to Upsell in Shopping Cart Page
Shopping Card Design and Usability

Econsultancy publishes independent research, and advice on digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, mobile and tech for businesses.
Popular Articles:
How L’oreal Uses Personalization to Increase Brand Loyalty
10 Examples of Great Airbnb Marketing Creative

Ecwid – Blog
Get free e-commerce tips, news and inspiring ideas.
Popular Articles:
How to Use Content to Attract Customers to Your Store
Make Facebook Work for Your Small Business

Get Elastic
Tips, tricks, news and commentary related to ecommerce world.
Popular Articles:
2016 Web Design Trends to Boost Conversions
5 Major Global Ecommerce Trends That You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Hubspot – Blog
Latest sales and marketing tips, trends and ebooks.
Popular Articles:
7 Handy Excel Tricks That’ll Impress Your Boss
12 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful

KISSmetrics – Blog
A blog about analytics, marketing and testing.
Popular Articles:
How much Do Keywords Still Matter?
How to Create Landing Pages That Convert?

One of the blogs to follow related to how to grow your business online.
Popular Articles:
Why Serious Ecommerce Brands Need a Content Strategy
7 Things SEOs Want Web Developers to Know
Focuses on customer loyalty, retention, engagement and marketing tactics for ecommerce site owners.
Popular Articles:
4 Ways to Incorporate Loyalty Program In Your Online Shop
Let’s Improve Online Customer Engagement

Magento – Blog
Provides best practices, customer stories, technical issues and Magento news on the blog.
Popular Articles:
A New Era of Commerce Innovation
SEO Best Practices for eCommerce Product Pages

Marketing Profs
Thousands of articles related to e-commerce marketing.
Popular Articles:
50 Horrible Cliches You Need to Stop Writing and Saying Right Now
Content Marketing Trends in 2016

The Moz Blog
Anything related to e-commerce SEO.
Popular Articles:
My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic
Content Marketing Tips for B2B Organizations

My Wife Quit Her Job
Podcasts and articles related to e-commerce conversion rate optimization and e-commerce tips.
Popular Articles:
The Exact Steps I Took to Increase Conversion Rates 42% For My Online Shop
What a Six Pack Taught Me About Starting A Successful Online Business

Nerd Marketing
The founder – Drew Sanocki – covers data-driven digital marketing for online retailers.
Popular Articles:
7 Essential Metrics for Ecommerce Startups
The Best Time for Retailers to Send Marketing Emails

Nosto – Blog
Provides best e-commerce tips, tricks and news.
Popular Articles:
How to Create the Perfect Ecommerce Product Page
10 Ecommerce Design Trends to Follow in 2016

Ometria – Blog
A useful blog for e-commerce online marketers.
Popular Articles:
How to Calculate CAC in Ecommerce
Calculating Customer Lifetime Value in Ecommerce

Optimizely – Blog
A blog about e-commerce landing page optimization, conversion rates, and personalization.
Popular Articles:
36 E-commerce Homepage Design Best Practices from the Experts
9 E-Commerce Best Practices to Stand Out from a Saturated Market

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Paymill – Blog
A blog about online payments, marketing and e-commerce advice.
Popular Articles:
7 Hurdles to Overcome When Starting An E-Commerce Business
19 Email Marketing Strategies for Every Customer Lifecycle Stage

PFS Web – Blog
Global e-commerce blog that shares online retail trends.
Popular Articles:
Consumer Demand is Driving the Jump to Luxury Ecommerce
7 Things to Know About B2B Ecommerce

Pixel Union – Blog
A collection of merchant stories and industry insights to help e-commerce stores to start and grow their online business.
Popular Articles:
Subscription Ecommerce: 3 Ways to Do It Right
Soldsie’s Alan Fong Talks Instagram Marketing

Practical Ecommerce
Provides in-depth articles and listings to help e-commerce sites to succeed in online marketing.
Popular Articles:
Content Marketing: Build Your Story to Engage Prospects
21 Free Tutorials for Google Analytics

Presta Shop – Blog
Covers e-commerce tips and advice, e-commerce in general.
Popular Articles:
17 Ecommerce Conversion Boosters
6 Smart Competitive Pricing Tactics for eCommerce Companies

Prisync – Blog
Covers e-commerce in general like online marketing to countries’ e-commerce reports.
Popular Articles:
Top 61 Ecommerce Influencers to Follow
The Ultimate List of Ecommerce Events to Follow

Quick Sprout
Neil Patel, the founder of the blog, shares e-commerce marketing strategies and business advices through his blog.
Popular Articles:
The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing
How to Grow Your Blog Traffic by 20.000 Visitors a Month

Referral Candy – Blog
A blog about e-commerce referral marketing. There are also in-depth articles and case studies included.
Popular Articles:
10 Core Word of Mouth Tactics You Need to Know
How to Get Word of Mouth: Featuring 40+ Successful Examples to Learn From

Sailthru – Blog
Mostly covers articles on e-commerce customer retention and optimization.
Popular Articles:
Customer Acquisition vs. Retention
Top 10 Viral Ideas Campaign for Ecommerce Retailers

Search Engine Land
A leading daily publication that covers all aspects of the search marketing industry.
Popular Articles:
7 Essential Google Analytics Reports Every Marketer Must Know
The 7 Deadly Sins of Content Marketing

Segmentify – Blog
Useful tips related to conversion optimization and online marketing in e-commerce.
Popular Articles:
Use of Artificial Intelligence in eCommerce Social Media Moderation
How You Can Spend your Holiday by Optimizing Your UX Analytics

SemRush – Blog
Thoughts and informative articles on e-comemrce SEO, social media marketing, optimization and paid marketing.
Popular Articles:
3 Influencer Engagement Stories to Create Linkable Content
SEO or Content Marketing? Here’s How to Rock Both

Ship Station – Blog
Covers articles related to shipment process of ecommerce sites.
Popular Articles:
Avoid Holiday Shipping Woes
Keep Track of Inventory with ShipStation

Shopping Signals
Shopping Signals is all about digital marketing for sites that sell stuff. The owner of the site, Ryan Be Miller has 17+ years experience in e-commerce and digital marketing.
Popular Articles:
Starting an Online Business
How to Get Great Customer Testimonials

Shopify – Blog
You can find anything related to ecommerce on the blog of Shopify. Ecommerce trends and tips, tools for ecommerce entrepreneurs, advices for first time ecommerce site owners, creative marketing ideas, optimization and so on… It should be one of the sites that should be followed daily.
Popular Articles:
How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business: The Ultimate Guide
30 Beautiful and Creative Ecommerce Website Designs – Blog
It’s a blog of Mastercard mostly related to payment solutions in e-commerce.
Popular Articles:
Big Opportunities for Small Business Owners
Payment Solutions for Business Websites

Smart Insights
Smart Insights is a marketing strategy blog that shares articles mostly related to unpaid channels like content marketing, optimization, email marketing and social media. The founder of the blog – Dave Chaffey – is also one of the key experts to follow in e-commerce.
Popular Articles:
The Perfect Landing Page. Landing Page Examples and 12 Tips
Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning Word Template

Smart Marketer
Ezra Firestone is one the leading experts in ecommerce world and in his companies’ blog – Smart Marketer – ; he shares videos, blog posts and podcasts mostly related to online marketing of e=commerce sites.
Popular Articles:
How I Turned 434,256.72 Into 1,422,500.15
How to Succeed on Amazon

Spyfu – Blog
Spyfu is a software as a service that shows yours and competitors performance on Google Adwords and SEO. In their blog, you can find articles related to PPC channels, SEO and keyword optimization. Quick solutions and in-depth tutorials parts are also should be seen.
Popular Articles:
What 2,000+ Audits Taught Us About Adwords
The Ultimate SEO Guide – 75+ Actionable Techniques

Store Growers
Who doesn’t want to increase their number of customers? Dennis shares his experiences related to growth in his blog.
Popular Articles:
The Ultimate List of Ecommerce Marketing Tactics
The Minimalist Guide to Google Analytics for Ecommerce

Sweet Tooth Rewards – Blog
Loyalty is one of the factors that e-commerce sites keep an eye and Sweet Tooth Rewards is one of the best resources in loyalty programs and customer retention.
Popular Articles:
5 Personalization Tactics for a Successful 2016
The Benefits of a Reward Program for Trending Products

The Future of Commerce
The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce is a great destination for relevant and timely information and analysis on commerce topics, both consumer-facing and business-to-business. The purpose of the site is to keep its readers ahead of the commerce trends with daily updates that are informational, educational and entertaining.
Popular Articles:
How to Engineer a Great Customer Experience
The Customer Relationship doesn’t End at Checkout

Trinity Insight – Blog
Trinity Insight is an agency that helps companies with eCommerce, digital marketing and customer experience needs. They cover useful articles related to digital marketing, SEO, data and user experience in their blog.
Popular Articles:
20 Ways to Improve Ecommerce SEO
Why Ecommerce Site Can’t Ignore Content Blockers

Unbounce – Blog
Covers articles related to landing page and conversion optimization.
Popular Articles:
22 Brutally Honest Landing Page Critiques
13 Warning Signs Your Web Copy Stinks

Volusion – Blog
Volusion’s e-commerce blog – Ecommerce Insights – is an industry-leading e-commerce design and marketing blog providing entrepreneurs and small business owners useful information, resources and inspiration to establish and grow their online businesses.
Popular Articles:
What to Expect When Starting Your Very First Ecommerce Store
7 Ways to Ruin Your Responsive Design

Wordstream – Blog
Anything you want to learn related to e-commerce paid marketing, SEO and content marketing too.
Popular Articles:
Google Expanded Text Ads: 10 Things You Need to Know
Google Adwords Benchmarks for Your Industry

Infinity and All

Umberto Eco’s wonderful phrase:
Make infinity comprehensible, but its perilous flipside is the seedbed of stereotypes.

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