Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City

Pakistan Startup Report



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You might have caught the Brazil Startup Report that was published on Startup Rev a week ago. This time, it’s Pakistan. Bowei Gai and his team have put together another informative set of slides that show how Pakistan’s startup ecosystem is quickly growing. With a population near 200 million, the percentage of creative class individuals rivals that of India and other ecosystems near their geography.

Cities such as Karachi, Islamabad, and Peshawar have laid the groundwork for entrepreneurship – they have well regarded engineering and research university as well as incubators and accelerators to make sure that innovation is top of mind. There are a lot of Pakistanis currently living and working in Silicon Valley which imports some of that culture back to Pakistan.

Check out the full deck below, or find it here on SlideShare.


Brazil Startup Report



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Just in time for the World Cup, the folks over at World Startup Report released a report on Brazil’s national startup ecosystem. Brazil is quickly rising in the ranks as an excellent place to do business, and with that is coming a flood of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The report is packed with goodies such as an overview comparison to the United States and India, as well as the trends of internet usage in the country. Both seed and institutional money is showing up in Brazil which is additional fuel to the entrepreneurial fire that exists.

Find the report here, or flip through it below.


Fort Collins Startup Week Wrap-up Video



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Fort Collins is a growing startup community up in northern Colorado. Entrepreneurial leaders recently put on Fort Collins Startup Week as both a celebration of all their progress and a launchpad for more entrepreneurial behavior. The week was a stellar one with involvement from organizations such as Colorado State University, Blue Ocean, Otterbox, and more.

The team who organized the event, led by Chris Snook, put together a mini video series covering the week. Their wrap-up video, which can be found here, provides an overview of why the community came out with such a strong showing for the week.


A Surge in Startup Networks



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One book, Startup Communities by Brad Feld, has been having a deep impact in Cleveland, OH.

As this piece in Crain’s Cleveland Business details, Feld’s work has been the inspiration for new meetups around town, new forums for discussion, and a new mindset towards development the startup ecosystem. By focusing on Feld’s “Boulder Thesis,” the community builders knew to give entrepreneurs the space to lead the ecosystem.

Read the full piece here: http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20140622/SUB1/306229984/book-leads-to-a-surge-in-startup-networks


Startup Community in a “One Horse Town” – Nick Such



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The PR Tech Summit just finished up and there were some great conversations about how to build startup communities and stories from startup community from around the world.

One standout presentation was from Nick Such. He talked through his experience of building a startup community in a “one horse town”, otherwise known as Lexington, Kentucky.

The presentation touches upon Brad Feld’s Boulder Thesis from Startup Communities.

You can find the deck used for the presentation here. A big shoutout to Nick Such and the community from Lexington, KY.


Brad Feld on Denver- ID8 Interview



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Brad Feld, a Managing Director at Foundry Group and Co-founder of Techstars, speaks prolifically about Boulder, the Boulder community, and how Boulder has come to be an international renown startup community.

What many do not know is that Boulder has sister startup communities in Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs – the four innovation hubs of Colorado.

In this interview with ID8, Brad talks about the entrepreneurial growth that Denver has been experiencing in the last few years. Among the topics covered are Boulder’s relationship with Denver as well as what Denver needs to do to take their startup community to the next level.

Source: http://www.entrepreneurship.org/en/ID8/Denver/Drivers/Brad-Feld-on-Denver.aspx

 

 Brad Feld on Denver  ID8 Interview

The Shift: The Entrepreneurs and Companies Bringing Africa Online



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A story about blossoming technologies and entrepreneurial communities in Africa. The gist: there is a large movement to bring Africa online which will empower entrepreneurs and a new wave of innovation.


Seth Levine on the Boulder Thesis



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In early February, Seth Levine, Managing Director at Foundry Group, talked through the Boulder Thesis with a group in Minneapolis. The segment includes an interview with CEO Clay Collins and his perspective on startup communities.

Find a write-up and some video on the event here: http://tech.mn/news/2014/02/09/video-seth-levine-on-startup-communities/


Does Geography Matter? The Value of Clusters and How to Engineer One



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This post originally appeared on Will Price’s blog. Find it here.

In a world of high-speed data and voice networks, web-enabled applications, and a global talent pool, does geography matter?

Will technology break down traditional industry clusters and distribute innovation, wealth, and opportunity across an increasingly flat world?

As a resident in the Valley, to me it is an important question.

Should company founders leverage the benefits of operating in a high-tech cluster and pay the cost premium of doing business here, or should they leverage the benefits of enabling technologies and remain in lower cost geographies, while working to recreate clusters?

The work of Michael Porter helps think through the issues. In his HBR article, “Clusters and the New Economics of Competition,” he lays out a convincing argument for the long-term viability of clusters.

He defines clusters as,

geographic concentrations of interconnected companies and institutions in a particular field. Clusters encompass an array of linked industries and other entities important to competition. They include, for example, suppliers of specialized inputs such as components, machinery, and services, and providers of specialized infrastructure.”

His core thesis is that advantage in the global economy lies, ironically, increasingly in local things – knowledge, relationships, and motivation.

Traditionally, competition centered on input-cost advantages – natural and human resources. Today, however, competition rests more on the productive use of inputs, which requires continual innovation. He writes, “modern competition depends on productivity, not on access to inputs or the scale of individual enterprises.

He defines the following characteristics of a cluster that accelerate productivity:

  • sourcing of information, technology, talent
  • coordinating with related companies
  • measuring and motivating improvement
  • better access to employees and suppliers
  • access to institutions and public goods (venture firms, lawyers, universities)
  • complimentarities
  • co-optition, cluster promote both competition and cooperation

Clusters also directly support new business formation. Porter argues that working in a cluster allows individuals to more easily identify gaps in the current market offerings, enables efficient access to talent, institutions, partners, etc, and a home-grown exit market (i.e. established members of the cluster are the likely acquirer).

The most important insight for me is that the modern economy competes on innovation and that operating within a cluster shortens the cycle time to identifying, resourcing, and realizing areas of need and opportunity.

Michael Porter’s thoughtful analysis helps me better understand why the Bay Area “cost premium” is well worth it. Market cap is a function of innovation and growth, and innovation is a function of access to ideas, talent, and supporting resources that eliminate frictions and catalyze connections and progress.

08cfae6 Does Geography Matter? The Value of Clusters and How to Engineer OneIronically, in an increasingly globalized economy the Valley is gaining not waning in prominence. The valley takes ~40% of total US VC, with CA taking well over 50%.

What about people, however, who are committed to building companies outside of the Bay Area? Given Porter’s work on clusters, it is clear that people outside of a major cluster must work incredibly hard to overcome the evident disadvantage of geography.

Fortunately, a real world example of kickstarting a cluster is underway: Bend, OR. Steve Blank’s recent posts on Bend highlight the work of Dino Vendetti, a former Bay Partners GP, who moved up to Bend. The most recent post,Engineering a Regional Tech Cluster, summarizes Dino’s strategy:

  • Encourage entrepreneurial density
  • Leverage the local university
  • Lobby for direct flights to major markets
  • Develop local venture capital sources
  • Invest in connection via local entrepreneur events and start-up schools
  • Harness local business community support

 

2a99882 Does Geography Matter? The Value of Clusters and How to Engineer OneDino, and other cluster pioneers, like the Foundry Group in Boulder and FirstMark in NYC, are clearly thinking holistically about how clusters take shape and what dependencies are required for them to take hold.

Will the valley’s choke hold on the technology industry continue?

Or, will the Valley’s rising costs, plus collaboration technology improvements, and cluster-based business-government initiatives (ex. Bend) see talent migrate to new clusters and geographies?

Please comment below and share your thoughts. It’s an important topic.


Why We Start Up Startups



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This is a guest post by Victor W. Hwang, CEO of T2 Venture Creation and the author of The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.

Pause for a moment.  And ask yourself some simple questions you probably don’t think about every day.  Why do we build companies?  Why do we innovate?  Why do we care about creating new inventions, products, and solutions, when we could simply leave things as they are?

These are questions that I think a lot about.  On the surface, the answers might seem deceptively easy.  For instance, some people want to make money.  Others like the thrill of the hunt, like a form of legalized gambling.  And others like the independence, the freedom.

But those answers seem incomplete to me.  If you’re an entrepreneur, you already know there’s more.  There are much easier ways to make money.  There are much easier ways to get a thrill.  And there are much easier ways to feel independent.  Therefore, we innovate and build companies for reasons that are deeper.

I am lucky to see a lot of the world through my work.  In particular, I get to observe a lot of entrepreneurial ecosystems.  It’s not just an academic pursuit.  I think this issue matters a lot.  In most parts of the world, they don’t build new companies fast enough, so unemployment often metastasizes like a cancer.  They don’t innovate fast enough, so standards of living creep slowly downward.  What I’ve discovered is that the underlying essence of innovation has a universal quality.  This is true whether you’re building a startup in Silicon Valley or running a family business in a Latin mercado, Asian alleyway, or Main Street in America.

Here’s what I’ve concluded.  The desire to build ventures, devise solutions, and bring ideas to life is core to the human condition.  Underneath it all, we create because we care about things.  We build because we believe in what is possible.  We innovate because we are inspired by others around us.  When entrepreneurship and innovation don’t thrive, after you strip away everything on the surface, it’s always because people somewhere, for some reason, have stopped caring, stopped believing, or stopped being inspired.  I’ve observed this phenomenon everywhere.  It’s always the same.

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once said: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”  He might also have said that nothing worth doing can be achieved by a lone individual; therefore we must create together in teams.  That’s what startup companies are.  They’re just human beings working together to do meaningful things.  Building innovative teams is the only way to solve the problems that really matter.

When we talk about innovation ecosystems, therefore, we simply mean environments where it’s easier to build the needed relationships to achieve common aspirations.  Ecosystems are powered by cultural norms that accelerate the human dynamic of bonding and building together, namely diversity, connectivity, trust among strangers, willingness to experiment, and a pay-it-forward mindset.  If you think about it, this is actually quite profound.  It means that soft things create hard economic value.  It’s a new paradigm for our economic lives.  And it provides a new model to govern our societies, manage our companies, and create communities together.

Why do I write these things?  Because the new paradigm is right under our noses, but is still largely invisible.  What’s missing is a way for the builders of ecosystems to convene together, share lessons learned, and create practical methods to design ecosystems more effectively.  To make the invisible visible.  That’s the reason we started the Global Innovation Summit.  (Brad Feld’s been a fantastic supporter and advisor.)  The event is a celebration of the spirit that gives rise to vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems.  It’s a place for the builders of ecosystems to get together in person, connect with each other, and create a new set of tools, frameworks, and case studies together.  Last year, we had 49 countries participate.  The next Summit happens on February 17-19 in Silicon Valley.  I financed the whole thing last year on my personal credit card, and it’s not been easy, to be honest.  But it has to happen.  I hope you can participate.

If you’re not into conferences, we also feature lots of free or low-cost activities.  We call it Global Innovation Week, and it runs February 17-21.  A group of organizations are hosting over 20 events throughout the region related to ecosystem building.  There’s also an “indoor street festival” on the Art of Innovation, featuring over 30 creative artists and performers, sponsored by the City of San Jose as its official welcome to the world.

I hope you can join us for this celebration of the ecosystems that drive entrepreneurship and innovation.  Ultimately, we start up startups because it is what human beings do.  Entrepreneurs and innovators in the trenches already know certain truths intuitively, deep down inside.  Handshakes are more durable than contracts.  Altruism is more efficient than selfishness.  And silly things like trust and dreams and love… they actually do power the world.