Why Startup Lists Don’t Matter But You Read Them Anyway

It just turned 2013 in Hong Kong and I feel like it’s 2008 in New York.

Usually when I say that it’s because the startup growth I witnessed (and hope helped) in New York years ago reminds me of what I’ve seen in Hong Kong recently. This time, however, I’m talking about the latest in ecosystem envy. Startup reports are here again, this time in the form of Startup Genome Project and World Startup Report.

Fact: Hong Kong made neither list. Question: does it matter?

In the case of Startup Genome, I was one of the thousands of startups that contributed to their initial dataset in 2011. Their findings were actionable (though to be taken with a grain of salt), presented as applicable in different market types (more about that later) and changed the way we thought about survival probabilities.

I was fascinated with their collection of data and suggestions for effectiveness of different models across market types. When they published their Startup Ecosystem Report I took it as another interesting data collection and not surprisingly, Hong Kong was not on their top 20 list.

Likewise, when World Startup Report published their travel schedule for 2013, Hong Kong was not on the itinerary. Again, some people felt bad, seeing Hong Kong excluded. That’s on top of Dave McClure not stopping over on his way around the region recently. But really, we’re looking at this backwards.

The goal of any city is not to get itself on a startup list. Being on a list or lobbying for a closer look doesn’t achieve anything meaningful. The goal is to do what’s best for your location and then maybe when you’re too busy to notice, someone mentions that you’re listed as a new top location. Hong Kong can’t mandate its way to global importance. The next list will be entrepreneur-led.

Filed in: startup data