At least 25 places around the world refer to their local high-tech business cluster or industry as Silicon Something.

What’s in the name?

Silicon Alley, which for a time referred to a Manhattan neighborhood, is the term now used by the business press to identify New York’s tech sector. Silicon Pyramid refers to software-development companies in Egypt. Then there is Silicon Glen, a techie stronghold near Edinburgh, Scotland. All of them are looking for a piece of the innovative, job-creating magic associated with Silicon Valley in California, according to John McLaughlin, president of a local historical association in Silicon Valley.

“The valley breaks all prejudices and nurtures only the singular thing that innovation needs: an open mind.”

But Yogen Kapadia, born in India and the head of Infinote, a Silicon Valley—based firm that analyzes data found in text documents stored in multiple platforms, says he knows what puts the economic magic into Silicon Valley. (Kapadia’s company was a “lightning round winner” at the TiEcon 2014 entrepreneurship conference held in Silicon Valley.)

Head shot of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Yogen Kapadia
Courtesy Yogen Kapadia

“Picture a place where diversity is the norm,” Kapadia said, “where ethnicity, skin color and accent do not matter — a place where your ability to succeed depends only on your desire to succeed, your ability to innovate and your capacity to work hard. That place is Silicon Valley.”

The critical component

He says the valley has everything an entrepreneur like him needs. “Other places that have tried to replicate the model have left out one critical component,” he said. “Openness.”

“The valley breaks all prejudices and nurtures only the singular thing that innovation needs: an open mind. It is this open-mindedness of entrepreneurs, investors and customers that makes the valley special to me,” Kapadia said.

The magic of openness might be the answer, but there is a little something in a name also. Until recently, McLaughlin’s nonprofit was called the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association. After changing its name to Silicon Valley Historical Association, the staff saw visits to its website climb.

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