Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City

NYU Course on Startup Communities



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Ian Hathaway is teaching a course at NYU called Urban Innovation that features Startup Communities as one of the primary books in the course. The agenda (Urban Innovation Syllabus) looks great.

While this isn’t the first course I’ve seen that used Startup Communities, it’s the first one where Startup Communities was a central part of it. Ian – thanks – and if there’s anything I can do to be helpful, or if you have any feedback from the class about the book, I’m all ears.


Measuring Entrepreneurial Ecosystems



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Dane Stangler and Jordan Bell-Masterson of the Kauffman Foundation have come out with an outstanding paper on Measuring an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

I constantly get asked the question “how are we doing?” and “how can we measure the success of our startup community.” I’ve never had a particular good answer to this, especially one that is quantitative.

Dane and Jordan have taken a great first crack at this with a paper that I think will be viewed as the starting point for a real discussion about long-term growth and measurement of the health of startup communities (or entrepreneurial ecosystems – call them whatever you’d like.)

The four measures they focus on – density, fluidity, connectivity, and diversity – are well-defined. The measurements proposed are a great starting point, where Dane and Jordan acknowledge their own hypotheses and ask for feedback.

I strongly encourage this paper to anyone interested in this topic. Dane / Jordan – I’ll be regularly pointing people to it. Great job on going after a very challenging topic.


Thoughts From Abraham Aquino On Why We Need Startup Ecosystems



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Before you ask “who is Abraham Aquino”, my answer is “I don’t know, but he wrote a nice piece on why we need startup ecosystems that highlights Startup Communities.”

It’s awesome to see people all over the world writing about the Boulder Thesis and the principles in Startup Communities. It’s even more awesome to see people all over the world implementing them!


Ireland Startup Community Report



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The Entrepreneurship Forum recently published a report on the Ireland startup community. By focusing on improving their culture of mentorship and how community members interact with each other, they are investing in the long-term growth and sustainability of their startup ecosystem.

Big kudos to their use of “give before you get” – a core theme in Brad Feld’s Startup Communities – on page 5 of the SlideShare below.


The Story of Dallas Computer Visionaries



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This is a guest post by Skip Howard. Skip is the founder of Computer Vision–Dallas and Spacee, the next generation of interactive digital signage using computer vision, natural user interface and virtual touch screens. Follow Skip at @sphoward.

I was a lone-coder. In most of 2012, I was building a computer vision application, turning 2D surfaces into virtual touch screens in a way that hadn’t been done before.  But I ran into a problem. I couldn’t get my computer vision engine running. I wasn’t sure if I had a math problem, a software problem or a combination of both. For almost the whole year, I worked on this problem alone, believing that there were no other resources in Dallas to turn to. At least, that was the perception. So I did what most solitary programmers do, and I took a break.  I was sure that I was the only one that understood my problem and had the capacity to solve it.  About a week into my break, I registered to attend a speech by Brad Feld. He came to Dallas in the fall of 2013 to speak about building startup communities.  I have had one of Brad’s books and came alone just to check out his speech, not knowing what he was going to cover.  Needless to say, after the talk was over, my mind was blown. My major take-aways were:

  1. If you have a problem finding resources for a specific topic or industry, then start a meetup. It’s ok if it starts with a handful of people. Start it anyway. It will grow.
  2. Be inclusive in your meetup. Make everyone welcome, no matter what the skill level. Be inviting.
  3. Give to people around you if you want to get from people around you.

I realized that my core problem wasn’t just my software, but that we didn’t have a community around computer vision. I talked this idea over with a friend, Jennifer Conley from The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (the DEC) and she encouraged me to start a meetup. The DEC is a co-working space in Dallas, TX and Jennifer is a co-founder. She immediately donated space for the group to meet. So, in January 2014, I started Computer Vision – Dallas and had about 18 people sign up and join. We have a growth rate or 20 members Month over Month, with a very high attendance rate. Thanks to the members of this meetup, I was pointed in the right direction to solve my problem. Now I have a working engine. But it doesn’t stop there.  In June of 2014, Microsoft saw our success and offered to sponsor a Kinect hack-a-thon. We are calling it Computer Visionaries (www.computervisionaries.org). They are flying their entire Kinect for Windows engineering team to work with Dallas developers hand-in-hand.  Microsoft is paying for all food, prizes, and giveaways.  Dallas is one of four cities in North America chosen to host an event like this in 2014 and the only city south of New York City chosen in the United States. With future support pledged from Microsoft, we plan on converting this hack-a-thon into an annual conference centered on Computer Vision, which in turn will transform the developer landscape in Dallas.

Thanks to a speech and a book by Brad Feld, today I lead a cutting edge meetup, host Computer Visionaries sponsored by Microsoft, have a patent pending prototyped software finished, and am part of the story to bring bleeding edge technology to the Dallas development community.

Skip Howard
Skip@spacee.co


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.