Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: San Francisco, CA

San Francisco

As one of the principal cities in Silicon Valley, San Francisco is also one of the nation’s biggest hubs for entrepreneurship.

San Francisco, known as the City by the Bay, is the fourth-most populous city in California and one of the nation’s most well-known and recognizable cities. As one of the principal cities in Silicon Valley, it’s also one of the nation’s biggest hubs for entrepreneurship. WalletHub ranked the city 72nd on their 2017 list of the best large cities to start a business, with top-10 rankings in both the “Business Environment” and “Access to Resources” categories. The Bay Area as a whole ranked second in the 2017 Dell Women Entrepreneur City Index, while the Kauffman Index ranked the San Francisco metropolitan area seventh in entrepreneurial growth, 14th in startup activity, and fourth in established small business activity.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up San Francisco’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

4-Women-Entrepreneurs is a networking group aiming to build a community among and provide opportunities to active and aspiring women entrepreneurs.

A networking group specifically designed to help support entrepreneurs and small business owners at the beginning of their careers.

A large networking group for entrepreneurs in a small business with branches in cities around the world, including the Bay Area.

Aims to support innovation and advancement in medical marijuana-related startups and small businesses.

A networking group aimed at supporting socially-conscious entrepreneurs looking to make a difference in their communities and in the world.

Aims to help support French entrepreneurs and give them a foothold in Silicon Valley through regular events and showcases.

The San Francisco chapter of the Non-Technical Entrepreneurs Meetups, which helps support non-technical entrepreneurs build apps.

A community of entrepreneurs and small business owners that holds regular seminars to help educate and inspire entrepreneurs.

Hosts regular events to help to help entrepreneurs network with one another and possibly gain access to investors.

Hosts regular events to connect and support Silicon Valley-based entrepreneurs with startups related to virtual and augmented reality.

A large, productivity-focused networking group with the aim of supporting women in entrepreneurship and small business.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Organized in part by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, biztechSF is a technology-focused conference and networking event.

A large annual networking event and conference for entrepreneurs and innovators in the multifamily industry.

One of the largest conferences for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, The Startup Conference is a collection of over 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors.

Hosted annually in Silicon Valley, the Startup Grind Global Conference is one of the world’s largest gatherings of entrepreneurs and investors.

Watermark, an organization that aims to increase the number of women in leadership positions, hosts four annual conferences celebrating women in business and entrepreneurship.


Startup Competitions:

Held at the biztechSF conference, the Live Pitch competition is held between six entrepreneurs competing for a chance to win over $5,000 in prizes.

The annual EyeForTravel San Francisco conference, which covers topics in the world of travel, hosts a competition for travel startups.

PitchForce is a monthly event in which 10 high tech, clean tech, medical device, and biotech startups compete with one another for the chance to pitch to a panel of investors.

A major startup competition with preliminary rounds held worldwide that culminates with the finals in San Francisco.


Co-working Spaces:

With a focus on the combination of retail and technology, Bespoke offers co-working as well as demo and event space.

CANOPY offers six possible membership plans to best fit the needs of members as well as a variety of amenities and services to keep productivity high.

With a location in San Francisco as well as one in St. Louis, MO, Covo is a family-run that offers hourly and monthly co-working plans as well as a coffee shop and taproom on site.

A co-working space that places an emphasis on creativity in order to help its members grow both personally and professionally.

In addition to several flexible memberships for co-working, PARISOMA offers access to over 100 events and classes every year to help them succeed.

Sandbox Suites has four locations across the Bay Area, all of which offer several levels of membership in order to best meet members’ needs.

WeWork offices have 15 locations around the San Francisco Bay Area, 12 of which are in the city itself.

With two locations in San Francisco, Workshop Cafe is a by-the-hour co-working space starting at $2 and an extensive menu of hand-crafted food.


Maker spaces:

A cross between a co-working space and a maker space, The Archery offers offices as well as a workshop to help members bring their ideas to life.

Double Union is a maker space for women and non-binary people, with the aim of providing them a safe, comfortable space to create.

Noisebridge is a 5,200-square foot hackerspace that contains an electronics lab, a wood shop, sewing and crafting supplies, as well as classrooms, a library, and a conference area.



In addition to providing venture capital, 500 Startups also has a Seed Program that provides capital as well as mentorship and other forms of support to promising startups.

An incubation program that works with apparel and accessories design businesses to help them emerge into and help grow the fashion industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Offers a variety of programs ranging from one day to several months with different focuses and opportunities made available.

Runs three annual 12-week incubator programs for startups that already have a product in the market and generally have significant traction and revenue.

Offers a 20-week program and a $125,000 investment to promising early-stage media startups in San Francisco and New York.



Alchemist Accelerator offers several six-month programs in different sectors and $36,000 in funding to founders whose revenue comes from enterprises

One of the top-ranked accelerators in the world, AngelPad selects around 15 seed-stage startups every six months to work with.

A San Francisco-based accelerator program that specifically supports startups with at least one founder from the LGBTQ community.

Tarmac SF is an accelerator program specifically designed to help successful international startups find success in the United States, specifically San Francisco.

A six-month accelerator program sponsored by Wells Fargo that supports startups that create solutions for enterprise customers.

Twice a year, Y Combinator invests in a number of startups and brings them to San Francisco for a 3-month acceleration program that culminates in a Demo Day.

17 Questions to Ask Before Attending an Accelerator



Students at San Francisco State University have access to several entrepreneurial resources as well as a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

In addition to providing resources to students, the University of San Francisco offers a graduate program in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Wharton School’s San Francisco campus provides a number of resources for students on the West Coast interested in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups / VCs:

ABS provides capital and support to evolving growth-stage startups in the business and tech-enabled services and health care industries.

Accelerator Ventures aims to invest in early-stage technology companies and provide them with some resources to help them grow.

A venture capital firm that invests in post-seed and Series A technology companies around North America, providing them a bridge to Silicon Valley.

Band of Angels meets monthly to consider investing in seed- and Series A stage technology and life sciences startups located in Northern California.

An angel group that looks to invest in promising early-stage startups and expansion-stage companies with demonstrated market traction in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Blumberg Capital provides capital to early-stage technology startups led by passionate and capable entrepreneurs.

An early-stage venture capital firm that that tailors its approach to each specific company it works with to help them succeed.

As the name implies, First Round Capital aims to invest in promising startups as early as possible, regardless of the actual stage.

A venture fund that provides capital to promising startups that work with a combination of healthcare and technology.

Walden Venture Capital typically invests between $1 million and 4 million in what it calls “Sprout Stage” companies in digital media and cloud services companies.

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Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Several newsletters are offered by the San Francisco Business Times to keep subscribers up-to-date on are business and entrepreneurial news.

Startup Grind, which organizes regular events to support entrepreneurship, offers the opportunity for subscribers to stay aware.

A newsletter organized by Techstars that covers major entrepreneurial events going on in different cities, with one focused on San Francisco.

Valley Vision is Joint Venture’s monthly newsletter that covers and provides analysis of the area’s entrepreneurial and technology news.

Are you familiar with an entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in San Francisco not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.