Startup South: Road Trip Diary, Day 0

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Start-Up NationWASHINGTON -- Our bags are packed and we're charging our gadgets. Sarah and I are hitting the road early tomorrow, aiming to hit Richmond, Virginia, our first stop, by noon. We spent the day doing errands in preparation for the trip: picking up the car, buying a charger we can juice our computers with through the cigarette lighter slot, and researching the towns we're visiting. We have the feeling of static anxiety that comes with knowing that there is nothing you can to prevent all hell from breaking loose in the near future. Over the next eight days, we're going to drive more than 1,500 miles, meet two hundred companies, write 30 posts, visit a dozen cities, and eat as many fried and barbequed items as we can. We've been overwhelmed by the interest in our trip, and now feel we probably needed twice as many days to do the places we're visiting justice.

One thing I've already noticed -- and that we'll certainly explore -- is that you don't tend to find one kind of creative endeavor (i.e. tech startups) without a bunch of other cool stuff around. Where you find startups, you'll also find good music and good food, artists and designers. Our colleague Richard Florida does a thorough job quantifying what creative areas look like, but I swear you could create a startup index based on local dives and diners alone. The latter are even *leading* indicators you might say, as they tend to indicate the presence of the kind of creative people who tend to start technology businesses before they even do so.

Another thing we'll be on the lookout for is how startups outside the major venture capital regions solve the funding problem. We've heard some good stories already about how local economies do it, and we'll bring the solutions they've found to you.

OK, time to go finish packing. We'll see you tomorrow.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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