Startup Communities – Lessons Learned



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This is a guest post by Jeff Keen, the CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. The post originally appeared on Accelerate Okanagan’s website.

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I just returned from the Startup Phenomenon conference in Boulder where I had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and meet some new amazing people from around the globe.

We talked about everything startup community from culture, entrepreneurs, events, finance, corporations, and governments to networking models and measuring success.  Brad Feld and Jim Collins provided some incredible insight on how to take our startup communities from “Good to Great”.  The conversation was inspirational and ended far too soon.  I would like to keep the conversation going through this blog and encourage you to chime in with your thoughts, learnings & suggestions from your startup community.

To kick off the conversation, let’s start with a review of Brad Feld’s four pillars for building a successful startup community and how our own experiences relate to these concepts.

The first of Feld’s four pillars is that for a startup community to be sustainable over time it must led by entrepreneurs.  Many other organizations can play key roles in the startup community but they cannot be the leaders.

The challenge for many startup communities at the early stage of development is identifying and engaging with successful entrepreneurs.  This was the case for our community.  Here are a few lessons we learned along the way that can help engage entrepreneurs in your community:

  1. Hold events and activities that are appealing to entrepreneurs.  Events should be fun, casual and provide an environment for entrepreneurs to connect with community members without having to worry about being constantly pitched or inundated with requests for their time.  I would suggest that morning coffee meetups are a great way to begin the engagement process with entrepreneurs in your community.  One event that has proven to be very successful in our community is Startup Drinks, a monthly event that is hosted at various tech companies around town that regularly attract a full house of attendees representing a great cross-section of community members .  The venue is free, beer is donated by a local micro brewery and the networking is off the charts!
  2. Be consistent and patient.  If possible, community events should happen at the same time on the same day of the week, and preferably at the same location.  When entrepreneurs become comfortable attending community events and activities, they will attend on a more regular basis and invite the friends to join them – familiarity breeds comfort and this will eventually lead to more engagement.  One event that follows this pattern in our community is “Entrepreneurs Unplugged” which happens on the first Monday of every month at the Streaming Cafe at 6pm.  Entrepreneurs Unplugged provides a venue for local entrepreneurs to talk about their journey, share their successes and failures and inspire the next generation of creative, innovative, entrepreneurial thought leaders in our community.
  3. Identify and engage “rock star” entrepreneurs.  These are people who are recognized in the community for having significant success as an entrepreneur.   Our startup community gained significant momentum when the three most successful technology entrepreneurs became more outwardly facing and accessible in the community.  Although active behind the scenes for several years, this heightened level of engagement added a new level of credibility and “cool factor” to community events and activities.  These three leaders are now hosting coffee meetups, community building activities and are deeply involved in supporting social entrepreneurship and social enterprise initiatives.
  4. Identify and support volunteer, community driven organizations with a shared vision of supporting startups and entrepreneurship.  As a partially government funded organization our first foray into delivering community events and activities were done behind the Accelerate Okanagan brand.  What we found over time is that it was much more effective to identify likeminded community organizations and support their event and activity efforts.  We did this by providing venues, speakers, registration services and refreshments but took a back seat and remained behind the scenes.  Also, it should not have been a surprise to find out that entrepreneurs were active in many of these grassroots community organizations.
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Brad Feld and Jim Collins

In his book “Startup Communties” Feld talks about the difference between leaders (entrepreneurs) and feeders (everyone else) including government, academia, service providers, venture capital, mentors etc. and that feeders play a key role but cannot be leaders.  One very interesting anecdote raised at the  conference, and supported by Feld,  was that individuals from feeder organizations can take on a leadership role in the community if they act as individuals and not representatives of the feeder organizations.  The key is they must share the “give before you get” philosophy.   I would support this notion and state that our community is very fortunate to have several individuals from feeder organizations who willingly volunteer their time and expertise to support entrepreneurs and are regular participants in startup community events and activities.

I would also recommend not underestimating the power of the grass roots volunteer organizations in your community and the leadership role they can play in fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem.  We are extremely fortunate to have organizations in our community like OKDG (Okanagan Developer Group), DO (Digital Okanagan) and OYP (Okanagan Young Professionals) that are behind several startup community events and activities like Startup Weekend, Okanagan Startup Week, TEDx Kelowna, Startup Drinks and several weekly meetups.  Amazing volunteers delivering incredible events!

I would love to hear from you and learn more about how you are engaging with leaders in your community and some of the lessons you have learned along the way.

Let’s keep the conversation going!

Jeff Keen, CEO Accelerate Okanagan.

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Jeff has 25 years of experience in the technology industry, having held executive level management and leadership roles in technology organizations in both the public and private sector. Prior to joining Accelerate Okanagan, Jeff’s roles included technology entrepreneur, founder, and executive in both early-stage and high-growth technology companies. Jeff is an Honors graduate from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and is currently leading the amazing team at Accelerate Okanagan (www.accelerateokanagan.com).

 


Startup Phenomenon



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SP 13 banner newest Startup Phenomenon

Join us to celebrate the launch of Startup Phenomenon and collectively build-up the Denver-Boulder corridor.
When: July 30, 2013, 5:30 – 8:00
Where: Galvanize, 1062 Delaware St, Denver, CO 80204

The Denver-Boulder corridor: At one end is a thriving community of startups, tech companies, and investors, and at the other end is…a thriving community of startups, tech companies, and investors. So why the divide? Each city is doing fine on its own, but together we can turn this region into one of the most dynamic and economically important innovation hubs in the world. Join us for drinks and networking to help us bridge the longest 25 miles in business and look for ways that Denver and Boulder’s finance communities can join forces to expand both their collective strength and their individual investment opportunities. We’ll have a few brief comments from Jim Dieters, Brad Feld and the Startup Phenomenon team.

 Startup Phenomenon

World Startup Report: 16 Countries and Counting



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Guest Post By Bowei Gai - World Startup Report – (Founder)

bowei auto small World Startup Report: 16 Countries and Counting

 

A million thanks to the World Startup Report team, sponsors, and volunteers around the world for making this trip a reality. It’s been an amazing 6 months. Here’s a recap of what I’ve learned on the road.

Time flies when you’re off exploring startups in far flung lands. Six months ago I set off with just a carry-on and my trusty laptop, bright eyed and armed with boundless enthusiasm – I was ready with a capital R, to explore the world of startups. Now six months have passed and amazingly, I’ve realized that the more I learn, the more there is I need to learn. 6 months, 16 countries and 1000s of startup conversations later, I have only scratched the tip of the iceberg. The people I’ve met and the passion they have for what they do, often times in the face of great adversity is equal parts motivating and humbling. Its been a whirlwind journey so far and I am beyond excited to be able to share these findings. So on that note, here’s a little mini recap of my trip to date. Stay tuned for the full startup reports!

What in the world did I find?

India: hello, Google? Running a search engine via telephone may sound funny to the Valley, but really is it that different from asking Siri where the nearest parking lot is? Now picture Siri as a live person and put yourself in a country with 895M mobile phones vs just 35M smartphones. JustDial is a $720M empire in India…and it’s just one of many catering to this unique market.

Nepal: Don’t discount this hidden gem – even in a country where there are rations of only 12 – 16 hours of electricity per day, you can build tech firms with $100M USD exits.

Australia: Being a small yet modern and accessible country can be a double edged sword. On one hand, you get access to the latest and greatest from the West, but on the other hand, this very same lack of entrance barriers eliminates many startup opportunities for locals hoping to break onto the scene. Expect stiff competition here.

Greece/Spain: This could be a classic case of turning lemons into lemonade. 50% unemployment rate among youth might turn out to be the fire-starter that Greece/Spain startup ecosystems need.

Argentina: The story of Argentina can be told through their currency, which devalued 25% in the last 3 months. These folks are under constant pressure to produce in the midst of impossible constraints – trial by fire style. It could be argued that these conditions have produced the best entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Brasil: Size does matter. Virtually all successful Latin companies make the move to Brasil after their initial growing period, despite the unfavorable laws and social instability.

Peru: Though one of the least developed countries in South America, it’s also the place with the highest growth. Serious potential here.

Colombia: When a country invests 40% of the national budget on education, it changes things and empowers people.

Chile: StartupChile might go down in the history books as one of the best things to ever happen to Chile in this decade.

Kenya: The future of mobile payment can be seen in Kenya today. M-pesa is a micro-financing and money transfer service all easily accessible from your mobile device. It accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP.

Ethiopia: There are two 1s you have to know about Ethiopia: 1% internet penetration rate. 1M new cellphone subscribers a month.

Philippines: The Peru of Southeast Asia, but three times bigger with its 100M population plus everyone speaks perfect English. Keep an eye out for it.

Thailand: Unbelievable infrastructure and ample access to talents through its tourism. This 70M population country is poised to do well.

Myanmar: For a country that’s only a year old, its infrastructure is surprisingly developed. Those who want to jump in for low hanging fruit might already be too late.

Israel: Roughly 70% of the startup founders at our meetup believe they can build a billion dollar company. With this much ambition, drive and optimism in the room, some of them could be right.

So what’s next?

There are 13 more countries on the list, equally split between Europe (Netherlands, France, UK, Germany, Ukraine, Russia) and Asia (Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore). Big things are happening for the WSR team, keep following us to access the full country by country World Startup Reports as they become available. If your country is on the list, please let us know if you would like to help! http://bit.ly/helpWSR

Oh and one more thing… *drum roll*

GOAB World Startup Report: 16 Countries and Counting

We’re proud to announce the WSR closing ceremonies happening in the Philippines at the end of my 29-country tour, called Geeks-On-A-Beach. Some of our most influential and knowledgeable founders/investors from all over the world will join us at Geeks-On-A-Beach to discuss the global startup trends and opportunities, from Silicon Valley to India. This will also be where I share my overall findings, impressions and conclusions from my epic journey.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the world’s startup founders and investors.  Sign up today and get the early bird discount. This will be an incredible event in partnership to help the local startup community in the Philippines.

@Bowei
Founder, World Startup Report

Special thanks to: 500Startups, Startup Revolution, StartupWeekend, StartupDigest, Brad Feld, Dave McClure, Flightfox, Boingo, Bizpora for making this trip a reality!

 


Bowei Gai World Startup Report: 16 Countries and Counting

 

Bowei Gai is a serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley who sold the company he co-founded, CardMunch, to LinkedIn in 2011. On New Year’s Eve of 2013, he boarded his first flight for a 9-months long trip across 29 countries and 36 cities to research the world’s startup ecosystems.

Bowei’s first project, “The China Startup Report”, received over 100,000 views on SlideShare. His new project, the India Startup Report gained over 150,000 views shortly after release. From January to June 2013, Bowei has traveled to the following places: India, Australia, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Israel, Greece and Spain. Below is his story.


Startup Genealogy



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Family tree Startup Genealogy We’re beginning to see an interesting phenomenon occur with the success of Startup Communities. Readers are extrapolating the lessons within the book and are raising some interesting questions about the drivers, best practices and key components of startup communities. Recently, Dan Moore, a local Boulder IT consultant, wrote a blog post questioning the lasting impact the personnel of a former employer had on the local startup community. His blog post raises an interesting question.

How many startups have been birthed as a result of personnel from a former startup?

In his own case, Mr. Moore was an employee of XOR, (Internet technology, Systems, IT) and according to his experience some 23 companies were formed as an off fall of its sale, one of which includes the company he currently works for. This information has spurred the team here at Startup Revolution to wonder if we could put together a data set that would depict the general impact startups have on their communities.

So we decided to begin the process of sourcing information regarding such matters and are now putting together a data set on the long term residual effects of startups; no matter their outcome. Whether they failed or succeeded we want to know the impact startups have.

So we’ve got a favor to ask…we need you to fill out the form below providing us with important information on the number of companies that were spun off as a result of either the sale or closing up of a former employer.

Simply fill out and submit the form below and we’ll start building the data set.

Thanks for all the help!

-The Startup Revolution Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Startup Genealogy

3rd Annual CU Mobile App Challenge



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 3rd Annual CU Mobile App Challenge

 

The Computer Science Undergraduate Advisory Committee (CSUAC) is organizing the second round of the 3rd annual Mobile Apps Challenge here in Boulder. The second round of the challenge will take place tomorrow Friday, April 12th at 5PM at Hub Boulder. The competition will include student teams from across Colorado including CU-Boulder, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Denver, and Colorado School of Mines.

 

List of Applications:

Musikfly: a platform for musical influencers to manage all their music submissions in one smart, simple feed.

PicPoc: a photo manager/viewer that runs on iOS. Its interface allows you to horizontally scroll through albums of photos, and PicPoc can view photos from your phone’s photo library or you can save photos to PicPoc to keep them secure. PicPoc’s best feature is the ability to lock/unlock your viewing to a single photo, or album of photos.

MGate: an app that allows users to simulate basic logic gate connections and outputs. Users can organize and/nand/nor/not or xor gates together to simulate basic digital logic. This would be a useful tool for teaching and learning about logic gates.

JamWalkr: a social music-listening and sharing app, designed to let users decide not only what kind of music they love, but WHERE it is loved

LightStop: an app that simply does one task really well: Displays current scheduling information for the light rail

Orpheus: is a digital DJ/Jukebox streaming music service for restaurants, bars, coffeeshops, and house parties. It uses social media and machine learning to play music that is revelant to guest and patrons.

 

Logistics

What: 3rd Annual Mobile App Challenge: The community event 

When: Friday, April 12th at 5PM

Where: The HUB Boulder

Format: Teams will be provided a time slot to present a quick demo of their application to community members and the judges. Following the pitches, community members and judges will vote for the best teams. Scores will be combined to determine the final results.

The total cash prize is $2,000!

Free Food will be served.

Get your ticket for FREE at: http://csuac-mac.eventbrite.com

For more information, please visit: http://csuac.com/tagged/app

The event is fully sponsored by SAP!!!

 3rd Annual CU Mobile App Challenge

The Kentucky Thesis



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Guest Post By Kent OylerOPM Financial – (President)

OPM Financial Logo The Kentucky ThesisNot long ago the guys from Awesome Inc arranged for startup guru Brad Feld to speak at the Kentucky Center about the Boulder, Colo., startup phenomenon. Somehow Boulder has attained the mythical entrepreneurial status we also attribute to Austin, the San Francisco Bay Area and Research Triangle.

Now back in the post-Nam days, when I was a longer-haired undergrad at CU-Boulder, the only local entrepreneurs I can recall utilized baggies to distribute their product. Gnarly for sure, but definitely not a global hot spot.

So, I wondered, what changed since the late ’70s, besides the merciful death of disco? How had the most liberal college town in America transformed itself into one of the preeminent entrepreneurial communities in the world and a birthplace of TechStars?

Maybe Feld’s speech would provide some answers, so I bought a ticket (and later, his book).

From Boulder to Louisville

In Feld’s TED-style talk, he used a flip chart to quickly lay out what he calls the “Boulder Thesis” (which he stretches to 200 pages in his book, Startup Communities). In short, Feld’s Boulder Thesis states that a vibrant entrepreneurial community must:

  1. Be led by entrepreneurs who
  2. Have a long-term commitment, and
  3. Be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it, and
  4. Continually engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

Understand that Boulder, which is fondly referred to as “eight square miles surrounded by reality,” sports five major research labs and the most degreed population in the United States. So it’s a pseudo-Oz, and whatever they do or (now legally) smoke out there might not translate to Kentucky.

OPM Financial The Kentucky ThesisBut what if it does? What if our most ambitious people self-organized into the best job and wealth creation machine this side of the Rockies?

I’m here to proclaim that the soul of the Boulder Thesis is, indeed, beginning to trend right here in the Bluegrass. Granted, we don’t yet match their 2013 Rockin’ Mountain High community, but (cue Journey) we are at least in the ’80s, or maybe even (fade to Pearl Jam) the ’90s in Boulder time, edging ever closer to the so-2009 Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling.” (Way to remix those metaphors.) 

My point is that this region is slowly but surely crafting its own energetic entrepreneurial community under flag bearers such as Phoebe Wood, Doug Cobb, Bob Saunders, Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, David Jones, Charlie Moyer, Tendai Charasika, Mark Crane, Greg Fischer, Adam Fish, Alex Frommeyer, Kris Kimel, Brian Raney, Suzanne Bergmeister and many others.

This isn’t a planned and managed affair; it’s organic and authentic. It’s like cat herding. It’s highly inclusive and spans the “stack” from investors to entrepreneurs to supporters. It includes long-standing groups such as Venture Connectors, KSTC, Nucleus and Enterprise Corp.; alongside rogues like Forge and Startup Weekend.

With the Gil Holland-led re-entrepreneurization of NuLu, the community even has a homeland.

From Louisville to the Commonwealth

To paraphrase Brad Feld, we are witnessing the birth of not just the Louisville Thesis, but the Kentucky Thesis, which I might point out is miraculously overcoming basketball rivalries and connecting with like-minded clusters of entrepreneurial diasporas from Paducah to Lexington to Covington.

A good thing? I damn well think so, and cheer on all comers who are willing to pitch in, whether by starting a company, investing, working, sponsoring or just showing up. We don’t have to become Boulder.Who needs weed dispensaries and 300 days of sunshine anyway? We just need to be ourselves and stick with it.

We have strengths in logistics, healthcare, food and manufacturing combined with that bull-headed Kentucky long-rifle sense of independence – hey, not every region is so blessed. We have plenty of bright people and ideas. And nobody sees us coming.

Granted, it was probably a hair easier to grow a vibrant entrepreneurial community in progressive, highly educated, uber-cool Boulder. But when we do it here, Mr. Feld will have an even better book to write.

Or maybe we’ll just write it ourselves.

 The Kentucky Thesis

WSJ Accelerators Heartland Series: Boulder



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This week, the WSJ Accelerators program is running a special discussion called Heartland USA. In it, they are exploring the development of startup communities in five cities:  Boulder, Colo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Portland, Ore.

Monday is Boulder day and there are a number of guest contributions already up, including:

Today, at 3pm EST, I’ll be participating in on online discussion called Ask The Accelerators and with Scott Case (Startup America Partnership CEO) and Marc Nager (Startup Weekend CEO). Join us as we talk about how you can create a startup community anywhere in the world.


Sister Startup Communities



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Guest Post By: Jeff Keen – Accelerate Okanagan (CEO)

I heard so much about the incredible Startup Community developing in Boulder that I decided to take a trip there to witness it firsthand.  Since my return, many people have asked about the trip, about Boulder and our experience.  For those of you who like to cook, you could draw a parallel of my Boulder visit to reading a cookbook versus taking a hands on cooking class from world class chefs. The intended results are the same but there is nothing quite like being there, witnessing how it’s done, and immersing yourself in the culture to truly appreciate and get the most from the experience.

During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet with many community leaders and learn about the evolution of Boulder as a Startup Community.  Everyone is actively involved and committed to making a difference.  We had 12 meetings in just over 2 days, each starting and ending the same way “how can I help?” and “is there anything else I can do to help or people you would like to meet?”  Awesome.

We participated in Meet-up events, Entrepreneurs Unplugged at CU Boulder and were invited to a small group dinner with community leaders and entrepreneurs.  We visited Techstars, were welcomed into several co-working spaces to hangout and catch-up on emails.  We were the beneficiary of many pay-it-forward introductions – no questions asked.  Entrepreneurs are everywhere in Boulder and the entrepreneurial energy is infectious. One afternoon at a local establishment, our server asked why we were in town and then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes talking to us about her Startup.  Sidebar: Another great experience during our visit was the prevalence of “Happy Hour”. For a beer loving Canadian entrepreneur could Boulder be any more perfect?

If you read Brad Felds book “Startup Communities”, he talks about the Entrepreneurial eco system and the importance of it being led by entrepreneurs, the ”give before you get” attitude,  network versus hierarchical structure, inclusive of all who want to be involved and the necessity to be in it for the long term – 20 years from any point in time.  There are many other important discussions in the book, but these were my key impressions and our firsthand experience in Boulder.

The only negative about our Boulder visit was that it ended too soon. It was very inspiring and motivating to hang with people that are all working together to make a difference, led by entrepreneurs and supported by the community – everybody “all in”. Cool.

On the trip back, I was thinking about our experience in Boulder.  How could we tap into that culture, the infectious energy and continue to learn about successful Startup communities on a go forward basis?  The concept of the Entrepreneurial eco-system being a network not a hierarchy was resonating with me – the power is in the network.  Could we expand the network and get entrepreneurs connected to and from other regions? Perhaps we create a “Startup Communities Network”, a network of like minded entrepreneurs from other communities committed to the ”give before you get” culture – the impact could be very powerful; entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs through a boundless, non-regionalized support system, making the right connections at the right time, reducing risk and accelerating business growth.

Interested in discussing the “Startup Communities Network” concept in more detail?  I look forward to your feedback and getting connected.

A big shout out to Brad Feld and all the amazing people from Boulder for making us feel welcome and for sharing your time and experiences with us.  We are returning to the Okanagan with many great community building ideas to share and look forward to visiting Boulder again in the near future!

 Sister Startup Communities

Introduction: The Startup of Start-up Communities; The Power of Clones in Russia—& Beyond



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Tom Nastas a 25 year VC veteran in US, int’l and emerging markets wrote a series for Startup Rev on the ‘spark’ which sparked the startup of Russia and how the development of start-up communities in emerging markets are shaped much more by the cultures of risk vs. what we investors and entrepreneurs face in the USA.  An interesting read, below are the individual posts and content for each one.

What are the elements of a start-up community?  What can you do to startup a start-up community in your city, or help it do more—faster?

Venture investor Brad Feld (Foundry Group, Boulder, Colorado, co-founder of Tech Stars, blogger Feld Thoughts) writes about these subjects in his other blog StartUp Communities with his new book titled ‘Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.

If you don’t know Brad, he was and remains the protagonist and instigator that transformed Boulder from a sleepy Rocky Mountain hippie town into one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial tech start-up communities in the United States.  It is his individual contributions to this success that makes Brad’s advice sought by investors, government policy makers and entrepreneurs from around the world.

Recently Brad accepted my offer—I contribute a post on the startup of Russia to StartUp Communities.  As I started writing, one subject led to another, with the result too much for one individual post.  Over the next few weeks I’ll upload the content as a series of posts for you:  the investor, the entrepreneur, the Government policy maker, staff of international development finance institutions.

In this series I answer five questions:

1.)   What is the ‘spark’ that ignited the start-up of Russia?

2.)   How does the ‘start-up’ of startup communities differ—emerging markets vs. developed countries?

3.)   Why is the US entrepreneurial model of experimentation, trial and error and pivoting a death sentence for entrepreneurs in the emerging markets?

4.)   How does the culture of risk and failure in emerging markets impact investor DNA—what they finance and what they won’t?

5.)   What is Clonentrepreneurship, where is it spreading from and to, and why is it a model for more—innovation, startups, and venture investment?

There is much happening in Russian cities like St Petersburg and Novosibirsk as two regional hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Even so, I’m confining my discussion to Moscow since what we are seeing in the Russia capital is being replicated in other cities in the Russia Federation, only to a lesser degree.

Here’s a preview of the topics in each post.

PART I: THE START-UP OF RUSSIA

  • First—Three Definitions
  • The Russia Tech Scene
  • Growth in Russia
  • What Changed for Growth to Emerge
  • The Spark that Ignited the Start-up of Russia

 

PART II: THE CULTURES OF RISK

  • The Cultural Divide:  What Investors ‘Buy’
  • What Investors Fear
  • The Culture of Venture Capital:  Friend or Foe?

 

PART III: THE POWER OF CLONES

  • Growth and Innovation in the Supply Chain
  • Sidestep the Obstacles that Impede Scaling Up
  • The Controversy of Clonentrepreneurship: Cloning the Idea or Hatching a Start Up?
  • The Spread of Clonentrepreneurship

 

PART IV:  THE QUEST FOR GROWTH

  • Clonentrepreneurship or Alternative Paths to the Start-up of Start-up Communities?
  • Change the Culture to Make Amazing Things Happen

 

PART V:  SCALING UP INVESTMENT—FINANCE THE STARTUP OF START-UP COMMUNITIES

In this final post to the series I answer the question:  “What are the small but meaningful steps you can take to impact the culture to change the culture for more investment, entrepreneurship and innovation?”

  • For Entrepreneurs—What are You Selling to Investors?
  • For Investors—Let’s Be Realistic
  • For Governments/Development Finance Institutions—Atypical Leadership Needed
  •   Concluding Remarks
  • My Next Blog Series—Mobilize Local Capital to Finance Your Dreams
  • Links: Evolution of Runet (Russia Internet) & the Russia Tech Scene

 

I hope that these subjects will help you to ‘Scale Up,’ more entrepreneurship, more investment and more tech start-ups in your country, with Russia as one experience to learn from.

How might this happen you ask?

Frequently a mismatch exists in the business models that entrepreneurs launch in the emerging markets and what local investors finance.  Struggling to raise money, entrepreneurs label capital as risk adverse with investors blind to potential, seeking guarantees and sure things.  Investors respond that entrepreneurs of venture stage companies fail to transform potential into paying customers fast enough and in the volumes needed for the business to scale.  Add in their need to generate a rate of financial return required for their own survival, and it’s logical why local investors in the emerging world finance expansion stage companies.

This conflict spills into the public stage with Governments called to action.  They conceive and invest taxpayer money to catalyze an early stage tech venture capital industry to fill market voids.

What happens next is perplexing to the creators of these investment schemes.

These new funds have a mandate to invest in venture stage tech companies, but they behave differently in execution. They invest in tech, but at the growth stage of company development, not at the startup stage.

But what if seed and early stage business models exist with the revenue growth characteristics of expansion-stage companies?  If such business models do exist, what are they? Can they impact the DNA of local investors to risk and catalyze investment at the earliest stages of company formation?  And can they spark the start-up of a startup community? While such business models seem to be an illusion and counterintuitive to the natural evolution of market development, I explain in this series that such models do in fact exist in Russia—& beyond.

Subjects I discuss in Part I:

1.)   First—Three Definitions
2.)   The Russia Tech Scene
3.)   Growth in Russia
4.)   What Changed for Growth to Emerge
5.)   The Spark that Ignited the Start-up of Russia

Reactions & opinions welcome in the comments box or send directly to me atTom@IVIpe.com.

Be well and be lucky.

 Introduction: The Startup of Start up Communities; The Power of Clones in Russia—& Beyond

We Are All Leaders, Now Step-up to Being a Servant Leader



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This is a guest post from Ryan Martens, founder and CTO of Rally Software and CEO of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO). Ryan wrote the story of EFCO for Startup Communities and he asked if he could add to his section via a guest post with some new thoughts he had. They follow.

Not only did I have the gift of reading an advanced copy of Startup Communities, I also had the gift of getting to know Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor when they moved to Boulder back in the mid-1990’s.   It was coincidental that I was moving back to Boulder at the same time. After going to school at CU, I had left to try opportunities in Bozeman and Denver.

I agree with Brad, the Boulder Startup Community seeds were planted by leadership back in the mid-1990’s.   However, NOT enough has not been said about Brad’s leadership role.

As folks who were working in technology back then, it was an exciting time.  My business partner (and now Rally CEO), Tim Miller, and I used to say that we were just trying to hold on to the tail of the giant monstrous force called the Internet.  Tim was fond of saying,  “Sometime we even got to grab on to the collar of the beast and see where it was headed.”  When Brad rolled into town in his early 30’s, I literally saw him as an extension of that Internet beast.

Brad did not just bring his energy, experience and vision; he and Amy brought their entire selves to the game.  They came ready to share, to laugh and to be self-effacing.   Starting the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, now EO, was critical.  In that step, Brad showed how to be a servant leader.   He had no problem serving by leading, but now his stewardship of YEO showed how to lead by serving.  He helped many of us invest in ourselves and thus invest in our rapidly growing community.  This was one of many gifts that Brad and Amy gave to this community over the past 15 years.

Roll the clock forward 15 years and let’s look at Brad’s partnership, Foundry Group’s, latest example of Servant Leadership.

In 2010, the Foundry Group set aside a portion of their “carry” to the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) and this summer, they broke into their carry.  As a result, they were part of almost $500,000 of community endowment flowing through the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation of Colorado and into the Boulder/Denver community.   As a result of Foundry Group’s partners committing to this program, EFCO can see more income coming over the remaining life of the first Foundry fund.  This gift has allowed EFCO to hire an executive director, Morgan Rogers, and have EFCO become an active part of growing the Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs’ startup communities.

This was not Brad or Foundry Group’s first impact on EFCO.  If you read my EFCO chapter in Startup Communities, you will hear about Brad’s help in founding and pivoting my work on EFCO.  Also know that Seth Levine, from Foundry, has been an invaluable member of the EFCO board for the last five years as we have grown.

Many people think that Boulder’s Startup Community is so great because of Brad.  I believe that to be true, but not in the way you think.  It was not his personal or investment money that built this community; it was his servant leadership that is causing this to be such a great startup community.

The great thing for you and your community is that the book is true.  You can create a great startup community by following the 10 principles outlined in the book and you don’t need Brad — you just need some great servant leaders to help the other entrepreneurs work for the long game.

Luckily all entrepreneurs, like you, are natural leaders because of your drive to inherently make things better and committed to turning your vision into reality.  By keeping your eyes focused on the long-term outcomes, not just the short-term outputs, you can provide the servant leadership to create a great community — not just a great startup community — a great company and a great personal life.