Technical Details

How the city disencourages tech start-ups

The person: Geet Jacobs is the kind of Santa Fe pseudo native who arrives here at a young age and decides to stay. A partner, programmer and designer at web-design firm, he’s also the owner of Geet Design, his personal business venture that he has been working on intermittently for the last seven years. He taught himself to code on nights and weekends during a 10-year stint working at a Canyon Road gallery. Starting (with, full disclosure, former SFR opinion columnist Zane Fischer) and working with other people out of an office again have been good moves for him, he says. Still, finding people to work with, even through word of mouth, can be tricky.

"I think it's partly that everyone's so caught up in their own lives that it's hard to find the time and that taking the chance to start a new business with somebody is scary in this town—in any town," Jacobs says. "It's just a huge undertaking, but…I don't know exactly why it's so bad here."

One possibility is that Santa Fe’s tech scene is already saturated with talented design companies. “Most of the people that I would want to code with have already started their own companies,” he says, “and by companies, I mean working from their home office and managing sites one on one.”

The plan: The problem, Jacobs says, is multifaceted. To make Santa Fe more accessible to tech start-ups, affordable workspaces—such as the Lena Street Lofts—need to be created or professionals need alternative means of exchange; workers need the time and opportunities to throw ideas around; and the technology infrastructure needs to be improved.

How it works:

• Boost the available jobs by encouraging established firms: "Etsy in New York—there's all these great tech start-up companies that are really supportive of their workers and they're fun, and people love to work for them."

• Start a company that's more of a collective: "When we first started, part of our excitement was to start a company where people could come and work in our office and work with us and do idea trade for rent."

• Allow time for idea creation and sharing: "When I think of working for Etsy or Google, I picture that you don't just sit there behind your computer working all the time, you have fun meetings where you sit around drinking coffee and just talk about ideas. And that comes back to the time issue in this town: People are always busy. There's not that time to have fun and brainstorm crazy ideas."

• Better internet connectivity: “Our internet is terribly slow in this town. For me, we got cable internet down the street and were getting 12 megabytes, but that’s not enough for doing tech work.”

Bottom line: The city needs to invest in developing an area with affordable, visible business space for start-ups, with true high-speed internet, that would allow fledgling enterprises to establish themselves financially while being around similar business with which they could network and share ideas.

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