In 2017, as founders of a newly formed company, we made the strategic decision to move to Birmingham, AL. There are quite a few reasons why Sigao moved to Birmingham, but one primary reason stood out above the rest. A seed planted in the wrong soil isn’t going to grow, no matter how well you take care of it. For Sigao to grow, we needed a place where the community’s culture fit with the culture we wanted to build. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the reasons behind the move, how the city has positively affected the company, and what the future holds for Sigao in Birmingham.
We moved for the startup scene
When Sigao made the move to Birmingham we weren’t much of a company. Just four people in basement with a few minor contracts to keep us going. In fact, on paper it probably wasn’t even the right move. When we changed locations we increased our cost of living, increased our competition, and severed many of the connections we had in our previous city. However, we knew that something was happening in the Birmingham tech scene, and we knew we wanted to be a part of it.
What we found surprised us.
We quickly discovered a small yet passionate (and perhaps a bit disjointed) tech community. One that instantly opened its arms to outsiders. From the moment we arrived, we received support and encouragement from everyone we met. People we hardly knew would go out of their way to make high value introductions. It seemed their reasoning was simple: we’re a Birmingham business. That’s just what you do.
Another thing that stood out to us was the lack of harsh competition. Sigao never experienced the cutthroat, calculating environment that so many startups deal with. Instead, we saw companies passing work opportunities to other members of the community. We met business leaders promoting partnerships and collaboration over cold business strategy. Most importantly, we met a group of people stubborn enough to look at huge problems and think “I can fix that”.
We moved for the food
We have always believed that part of being successful at work is being happy outside of work. And to us, few things contribute to happiness and wellbeing like good cuisine.
Food provides a lot of things that other forms of entertainment do not. Its an opportunity to connect to people around you. A chance to expand your tastes. Its even a starting point for learning about new cultures and customs that you otherwise would not have experienced. Eating is a universal activity that brings people together and broadens their horizons.
We moved for the people
Before making the call to move, we had only a basic understanding of Birmingham’s culture. We knew about its history (both recent and distant), and knew that people were working hard to push the city’s image into the future. But, beyond that, we really didn’t didn’t have a strong understanding of the community we were about to join.
Still, we were drawn to the city’s spirit of change and forward-thinking attitude.
It didn’t take long for us to realize how deep that attitude runs. The city is practically overflowing with individuals and groups working to make the city better. From dedicated economic centers, to environmental organizations, LGBTQ community groups, and revitalization advocacies, the city has a culture of progress and civic engagement that we’ve never experienced anywhere else.
In a way, the city its self is a startup, which is why it fits us so well.