6 Things that Make Richmond, VA a Technology Hub (and Why We’re Happy to Be Here)

Business, Leadership, News, Startups October 7, 2016
image of Richmond city

Richmond, Virginia has finally grown up – and is embracing the 21st century.

The city, which at one point was best known for its role during the Civil War as the Capital of the Confederacy, has now become a hub for medical technology and research, creative agencies, world-class restaurants, technology, outdoor adventures, outdoor festivals – as well as its role historic role in the founding of this nation. (Does “Give me liberty or give me death!” ring a bell? Yup, that happened here.)

Yes, we are talking about Richmond, Virginia, the home base of RTS Labs – a city that’s been written up in The New York Times and Southern Living for everything from top restaurants to best outdoor vacations. Richmond is frequently listed as an up-and-coming top place to live.

Can you tell we get excited when we talk about our home town?

But more to the point – what does the capital of Virginia have to do with the tech industry? Well, Richmond is no Silicon Valley, but the city has developed its own identity – and Richmond is embracing technology as part of that image. And the city has been great in supporting that growth. It has the backing of local government and the people who live here, as you’ll see from these 6 things that make Richmond, Virginia a technology hub (and why we’re happy to be here).

The Infrastructure Is Here

Richmond has been building the infrastructure to be a technology hub for the past five years. Thanks to incubators and accelerators like Lighthouse Labs, 80amps, Startup Virginia, and Unreasonable Labs VA (to name a few), the startup culture is flourishing. Homegrown Richmond entrepreneurs are starting businesses and succeeding in the region for three main reasons:

  • It’s convenient to get nearly anywhere you want to go, including Charlotte, DC, and New York
  • The lower cost of living makes it more affordable to start your own business
  • Entrepreneurs have access to a talented, highly educated pool of employees and freelancers

In addition to startup incubators, several organizations have built programs that connect techies with each other and serve to promote the region as a technology hub. Richtech, Venture Forum, and ChamberRVA are just a few organizations that help support the tech community.

Richmond is also home to several coworking spaces where developers, freelancers and designers work in collaborative environments as they build their businesses from the ground up. Conversely, Richmond is also home to a few major technology driven companies that have been integral in supporting the tech community: Capital One, Virginia Biotech Research Park, The Martin Agency, and Snagajob are a few examples.

Finally, tech companies don’t just land here. They are raised here. Richmond is home to two great schools that see the importance of strong technology and entrepreneurship programs: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Richmond (UR). Lots of businesses and young entrepreneurs have come out of VCU’s Innovation Gateway and the UR’s Robins School of Business.

Opportunity for Growth and Networking

There are a lot of great tech events that happen throughout the Greater Richmond Metro Area and beyond. Here are some of the great things that happen in Richmond throughout the year:

  • 804RVA hosts technology meetups on a weekly basis. These meetups cover all sorts of topics, such as 3D printing, data hacking, code camps, and an Adobe user group, to name just a few!
  • rvatech/jam is a yearly event with technology speakers, battle of the tech bands and more
  • TEDxRVA hosts speakers from within and outside the community who want to share ideas and passions
  • TomTom Founders Festival happens yearly in Charlottesville, just an hour from Richmond

Creativity Breeds Innovation

“But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.” — Carl Jung

Innovation needs creativity. Richmond is a creative town, perfect for fanning any techie’s creative flame! In fact, Thrillist recently named Richmond one of the Best Cities for Creatives (that aren’t NYC, LA, or SF). One of the center pieces of Richmond culture, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has attracted some of the best exhibitions in the country, including exhibits of works by Picasso and Kehinde Wiley.

It doesn’t take long to find something to do in Richmond. Every weekend is filled with interesting events with something different for everyone. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, there’s ample opportunity to start something new. Passionate Richmonders host events all over the city. From the rich RVA dining scene with its endless stream of food festivals to the theater and arts scene and beyond – creativity lives and thrives here.

Richmond is also home to a burgeoning maker community that has grown so big they host an annual RVA Makerfest to celebrate it. And then there are the murals. A stroll through any part of the city will uncover any of the 100 murals from artists all over the world that make up the Richmond Mural Project. There are the museums of Richmond’s Museum District, local shopping in Carytown (Richmond’s “Mile of Style”), and the First Friday Art Walk. There’s also a rich music scene that was recently featured in Paste Magazine (Our big claims to fame are Pat Benatar, who was discovered in Richmond, and of course GWAR).

Geeks Love Beer and Richmond Has Plenty of It

What techie doesn’t love a craft brew? Richmond is home to 16 craft breweries, 2 craft cideries, and one meadery. At RTS, we love going out to a brewery to celebrate our successes. It’s a great way to bond while sampling some local brews.

People Are Noticing the Rising Star of Richmond

Richmond is not the next [insert major city here]. However, it definitely has its own unique identity that has been getting a lot of national attention. The New York Times recently highlighted the best things to do in 36 hours in Richmond. The dining scene has been covered in multiple publications, such as Bon Appetit Magazine and USA Today.

But the dining scene is not the only attention Richmond has received. Outside Magazine proclaimed Richmond the Best River City, Bravo listed Richmond as a Best College Town, and Departures named Richmond a Destination on the Rise.

Proximity to Other Tech Hubs

Richmond is conveniently located near other great tech hubs – and it’s easy to reach any of them by plane, train, or automobile. Tech hubs such as New York, DC, Charlottesville, Raleigh, Durham, Nashville, and Baltimore are all reasonable drives or short plane trips away.

Creativity, beer, startup life, tech organizations, techie events and more!

We’re proud to be based in Richmond, Virginia! If you are a talented developer looking for opportunities, check out our RTS Labs careers page and drop us a line! And if you don’t live in Richmond, get excited! It may be time to call RVA your new home.

Image Credit Copyright: sepavo / 123RF Stock Photo