Midwest startups: Where does your city rank?

In the sports world—remember sports?—a quick glance at the scoreboard is all you need to figure out which team is ahead.

How do you keep score in the competition between startup cities? Do you count the number of startups or the number of VCs? Do infrastructure and tax friendliness come into play? And what about labor costs and the cost of living?

The answer, according to the folks at M25, an early-stage venture firm in Chicago, is all of the above—and then some. They’re just out with their fourth annual rankings of 59 Midwest startup cities, and they’ve taken into account a whopping 27 variables across three categories: startup activity, access to resources, and business climate.

Chicago topped the list this year, with Minneapolis a runner-up. According to M25 managing partner Victor Gutwein, Chicago and Minneapolis also topped the 2019 rankings, as did the next three contenders: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and St. Louis.

While it’s impossible to overstate the disruption America has experienced in 2020, Gutwein says that it has led to some positive changes in the Midwest startup world. One is a shift toward more venture capital focused on Black and Latinx founders.

Another is a general flattening of the funding landscape. As Gutwein noted in a blog post announcing the rankings, “Zoom may be the bane of our daily existence, but it is the great equalizer in the battle between a startup in a spare bedroom in Menlo Park and a startup in a spare bedroom in Dublin, Ohio, or Overland Park, Kansas, or Minnetonka, Minnesota.”

On a smaller scale, the craziness of 2020 prompted a few changes to M25’s scoring methodology: it now factors in internet accessibility, decreases the importance of airports and puts less emphasis on local capital.

To learn how your city ranked, visit Midwest Startups. You’ll find a map of all 59 cities and how they fared. You can even access a Google Doc that presents the raw data for every city.