Utah: the consumer tech hub.

Author:Tidwell, Brandon
Position:SILICON SLOPES
 
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Long known for producing great enterprise software products and companies, Utah is on the road to similar renown in consumer tech. The same region that gave rise to the likes of Novell, Omniture, Domo, Qualtrics, InsideSales and others is now producing some of the most creative and popular consumer products, services and apps on the market.

Take WildWorks, whose AnimalJam.com game boasts over 65 million players in 170 countries. Or the photo-printing startup Chatbooks, with over a million books printed. Add to the list other consumer-oriented companies and applications like Control4, Homie, Owlet, Traeger Grills, Cotopaxi, Freshly Picked, Bubble, Ancestry.com and Jane.com--to name only a few.

When we first launched Signal Peak Ventures, we initially focused on the enterprise technology and B2B software that has made Utah a regional tech hub. However, the entrepreneurs in the region never cease to surprise and delight us. A new batch of consumer technologies and products, produced by young entrepreneurs with the passion and design skills necessary to create and market exciting consumer-facing products, are fueling our enthusiasm to fund more consumer startups in the state.

"The talent pool of computer engineers, digital artists and animators in Utah is astounding," said WildWorks CEO Clark Stacey. "The workforce talent here is perennially refreshed not only by instate colleges and universities, but by seasoned professionals fleeing the congestion and high cost of living in other hub cities like San Francisco and Seattle."

Utah originally became a tech hub for reasons that are now well-known across the nation. A combination of the low cost of living, stellar engineering talent from top-tier universities, a high quality of life and business-friendly governance have buoyed entrepreneurship in the state for decades.

Less well-known are the state's consumer software roots. Ancestry.com, a $1 billion company, originated here, as did Overstock, Backcountry.com and Vivint. Utah has long been an important development hub in the $30 billion U.S. video game industry; local companies are behind industry tentpole franchises including The Sims, Twisted Metal, NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat and Disney's Infinity game/toy crossover.

"We moved our startup to Utah because we knew there would be entrepreneurs and investors that we could learn from," said Chatbooks CEO Nate Quigley, who moved the company from Florida in 2013. "The scrapbooking industry was invented...

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