Startup communities

Simon White | Brief article on what makes a start-up community.

I am always looking for ways to more effectively describe what is required to create a vibrant economy and a sustainable community in which entrepreneurship flourishes and decent jobs are created. The concept of an entrepreneurial eco-system is useful in this process – it highlights the importance of different systems and the interconnections between these. It connects governments, businesses, industries, academia, civil society and schools. However it is often difficult to identify the “juice” of these processes: how is it that the connections are made and sustainable?

Brad Feld is a writer and speaker in innovation and start-ups. In this video of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, entitled StartupVille he draws from ideas examined in his book, “Startup Communities,” Feld outlines his “Boulder Thesis,” a formula for building what he calls a “sustainable, vibrant startup community anywhere in the world.”

Feld cites four ingredients as essential to startup communities:

  1. Entrepreneurs as leaders: Feld divides a startup community into two groups: Leaders (entrepreneurs) and feeders (everyone else). “The feeders have very important roles,” he says. “They become part of the fabric of the startup community. But the feeders can’t be leaders. The leaders have to be entrepreneurs.”
  2. A long-term view: A successful startup community must be filled with people who are making a long-term commitment of 20-plus years and are able to weather the successes and failures of entrepreneurs in the community.
  3. A philosophy of inclusiveness: It takes all kinds of people to make a startup community. “If everybody contributes energy into the startup community, it will get bigger and grow faster and be more successful and be more fun.”
  4. Events that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack: Feld cites things like TechStars and Startup Weekend, which he notes are more substantive than awards dinners or cocktail parties, as vital to allowing the entire community to help startups.