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Gratitude for Silicon Slopes: Evolution of the Technology Ecosystem in Utah

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As we enter the season of gratitude this November, we find ourselves reflecting on the forces for good in our world -- those that have inspired and driven us to succeed. Aumni recently added its support to the list of companies that sponsored the 2021 Silicon Slopes Summit, a globally-recognized, two-day tech event developed and hosted by the Silicon Slopes. As a tech company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, we were honored to support this organization. 

A non-profit bolstering the economic growth in Utah, Silicon Slopes also provides important community-building events and programs, such as Silicon Slopes Serves, which strives to end food insecurity in the area. We are inspired by the work that the Silicon Slopes organization is doing to foster a thriving entrepreneurial culture in Utah as well as its dedication to important causes. 

More than a destination: the meaning behind Silicon Slopes

The term “silicon slopes” refers to the area spanning from Logan to St.George, Utah, where dozens of tech start-ups have achieved increasing levels of success. These lofty ambitions in technology are symbolized in name by referencing the world-class ski “slopes” in the Utah mountains. Silicon Slopes has worked with leaders in government, economic development, and education for two nearly two decades to, first, develop an incomparable, resident technology acumen then lure the best and brightest entrepreneurs, engineers, developers, designers, salespeople, and marketing strategists away from traditional tech hubs. 

In a recent Ladders article reported, the Milken Institute named Provo, Utah the “Best Performing City” (BPC) in the U.S. while San Francisco and San Jose fell from the “top 5” to 22 and 24, respectively. Measuring “job creation, output growth, and wage gains especially in high-technology sectors,” The Milken Institute recognizes the astounding effect of Provo’s robust, higher-ed pipeline and deep entrepreneurial roots in technology and innovation. 

Silicon Slopes has played a major role in this movement toward becoming the best in the U.S. Silicon Slopes heralds their 501(c)(3) non-profit organization as the voice, hub, and heart of Utah’s startup and tech community. Through their regular events and programs, they seek to empower Utah’s startup and tech community to learn, connect, and serve to make entrepreneurship and opportunity accessible to all. 

Finding opportunity in the West’s new tech hub

As a tech company headquartered in the Silicon Slopes region, we benefit from many factors affecting Utah’s expansive growth. For employers, the low cost of construction, investments in infrastructure, and an abundance of well-educated University graduates make Utah a compelling choice. Employees, too, enjoy a lower cost of living compared to other traditional tech hubs. Famously, many transplants find Utah easy to love because of the access to abundant, year-round, outdoor recreational activities. We are grateful to call Utah home and feel that we are better positioned to grow, recruit, find balance, and reach our full potential

Utah has also seen spectacular growth in private equity funding. According to data shared by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), the state of Utah ranks 14th in deal activity nationally. 2020 was a record year for Utah with $1.77 billion invested across 150 deals statewide. Capital invested in the state grew at an annual rate of 19% between 2011 and 2020, ranking Utah’s deal flow as the 16th fastest-growing of the U.S. states. But 2021 breaks every record: As of Q3, Pitchbook reports that more than $3.4 billion has made its way into the companies that comprise today’s Silicon Slopes cohort via 2021 venture investments, Aumni among them

How Silicon Slopes' values align with Aumni's values when recruiting talent

As Utah makes progress toward becoming more open to entrepreneurs of every background; Silicon Slopes seeks to take a leading role in the region’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Similarly, Aumni is committed to bettering itself by employing a diverse workforce that brings unique perspectives, backgrounds, and cultural identities to our proprietary analysis of data on behalf of customers. 

While the venture ecosystem at large has a great deal of improvement to make in this area, we are aligned with the value that we must learn more, do more, and provide a leadership example. The commitment extends beyond recruiting a more diverse workforce; it’s also about making sure that each individual is set up for success and is encouraged and able to have a hand in shaping company culture. This includes all team members, anywhere they may reside in the company, including Aumni’s board members

The allure of Silicon Slopes: why the region appeals to job candidates nationwide

Early in the company’s history, Aumni’s founders were drawn to Utah. In the October 2021 issue of Silicon Slopes Summit magazine, CEO Tony Lewis touches on how Aumni ended up headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah: 

At the time we started Aumni, the idea behind businesses moving to Salt Lake City centered around cost efficiency. We used to say that SLC can build a company capitalizing on Bay Area valuations but operating on Utah capital efficiency. Although that delta has closed significantly since we set up shop here in 2019, it’s also been wonderful to witness some well-deserved valuation increases for companies who have made the same decision. Today, the valuation delta between early-stage companies in the Mountain West versus the Bay Area is closing rapidly.

Today, many talented professionals are discovering the appeal of Salt Lake City, and they want in.  Job applicants at promising local companies are drawn to Utah from far beyond the Utah region. For example, more than half of Aumni's job candidates that apply are from other cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Atlanta just to name a few.  

Utah as a tech hub offers access to great founders (including those that spoke at the Silicon Slopes Summit) through a variety of networking events across regions and industries. Incentives that tend to resonate with job candidates seeking to relocate to Utah include: 

  • The quality of life and the great outdoors – In a fast-paced tech environment, it can be a challenge to create a work and life balance. Living affordably in a place of natural beauty with countless recreational options can help.
  • All demographics are welcome, including young families – The Salt Lake City area, with its vibrant hustle and bustle, has still retained its small-town community feeling. Families with young kids have room to grow here. 
  • Access to career opportunities and professional growth – Across Utah, whether it is through Silicon Slopes chapter events or others, the business community continues to grow on pace with the networking possibilities. Many talented professionals develop their professional trajectory here, leaning into experienced mentor networks.

As gratitude goes, we’re humbled by the longstanding efforts made by Silicon Slopes leadership teams. We’re grateful for the support we’ve received and everything Utah’s legacy technology leaders have created to make the path easier and more abundant for all. We’re truly thankful. 

For our part, Aumni leaders actively encourage and model healthy work-life balance. We are always looking for professionals with something to teach us, personally and professionally. Please keep tabs on our careers page for future openings -- new positions are posted regularly at aumni.fund/careers.

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