Handprint is working on some amazing 3D printing and editing technology. We had plenty of applications for the competition – many of them very interesting – but Handprint really captured our imagination.
As winners of the competition, they’ll get to live in the house rent free for a year. I’ll pay for Google Fiber and the house; they cover their own expenses. There are no strings attached – I don’t get any equity and there are no downstream obligations for them.
Google Fiber was installed last week so when they move in they’ll immediately have access to 1 gigibit Internet.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing this as an experiment around Startup Communities. I’m fascinated about what is going on in Kansas City around Google Fiber and rather than observe, I decided to participate.
Thanks to Ben Barreth for inspiring this project with his Homes for Hackers discussion with me when we met atThinc Iowa. And thanks for Lesa Mitchell at Kauffman Foundation for all of her support. Both Ben and Lesa have done all the hard work on this project – I’m deeply appreciative of their help. Also, thanks to Scott Case of Startup America for helping judge the competition.
A huge congrats to the Handprint team which consists of Mike Demarais, Alexa Nguyen, Jack Franzen, and Derek Caneja. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year. Welcome to the Fiberhood!
[IN]cubes Demo Day: Live Broadcast
When: Wed, February 27th, 2013 @ 1pm
Where: Toronto, Ontario.
Description: Although physically closed to the public, Itbusiness.ca will be broadcasting the event live. Tune in to hear Brad Feld’s Keynote speech.
Startup Communities with Brad Feld
When: Thurs, February 28th, 2013 @ 4:30-5:30pm
Where: Tannery Event Center, 151 Charles Street West – Kitchener, Ontario
Description: Join us to hear Brad Feld talk!
The Boulder Thesis: Four Principles for Startup Communities.
When: Thurs, February 28th, 2013 @ 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Tannery Event Center, 151 Charles Street West – Kitchener, Ontario
Description: Startup Smackdown is a fast pitch competition, where 10 startups are called to the ring to pitch in front of a panel of judges.
When: Fri March 1st, 2013 @8:00am-8:00pm
Where: Student Life & Technology Center – Worsham Ballroom Hendrix College - Conway, Arkansas
Description: Join us Friday, March1, 2013 at Hendrix College in Conway for an open discussion on building the state’s entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.
*Brad talks at 6:30pm Central
The book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City clearly states the need for inclusiveness as a basic tenant of a good startup community. Since the pipeline of women with STEM degrees has been bursting at the seams for years (except in engineering) one would think these women would be spilling over into our startup community events and activities.
Not so much.
I recently attended an awesome maker/tech event hosted by Zach Kaplan (Inventables) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Google) called ORD Camp in Chicago. It was an amazing example of a Startup Community in action. I noticed something different about this event that I thought was important to share – the guys tried hard to engage women in their vibrant tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2009 when they launched the event they had only 6.6% women participants, but this year that number went up to 26%.
It is not unusual for me to get calls from organizers across the country who are thinking hard about what they can personally do differently to engage women in their tech community. So my advice is simple – learn from Zach and Brian’s work. Before and during the event they took what I would call extraordinary measures to make sure women not only attended, but were fully engaged in leading sessions. I would call this work heavy lifting not for the shy or uncommitted. It is important to note (I am a witness) that many times female entrepreneurs and STEM leaders are invited to events but back out at the last minute. Entrepreneurs are super busy so this isn’t unusual, except the problem here is that there are already so few of them in the STEM areas that when they don’t attend, it leaves few women and you end up having a guys event.
The extraordinary measures these guys took in planning were as follows:
- They invited way more women than they thought would show up, knowing
shrinkage would happen.
- They hired a well known “sitter service” located close to the event and
publicized this to all invitees/attendees. The previous year, women that
canceled, named “sitter problems” as a reason. One man had also
noted this problem so they realized this service may benefit a large
number of attendees.
- They posted a detailed no harassment of any kind notice on their invite. As many in the tech crowd are aware, they are not the first to take this overt action. Tim O’Reilly led this charge for his events a couple of years ago so these guys followed suit. And I mean detailed – do not do this kind of thing with examples. This provides a strong positive signal to women (especially when there are late night events with alcohol).
- They put women on the advisory board to help select and encourage other women to attend once they were invited.
- They made sure that a number of the women attendees were going to come prepared to lead discussions and demonstrations. The young women from Google who led a demonstration of physics and food science was amazing.
- They alerted local police that women and men would be leaving the building late at night.
Feedback from attendees:
This was an un-conference, so at the event, I posted the “how do we get more women into tech” on the wall and waited to see if anyone would vote on it as a topic. They did. Then to see who would show up – a lot of people showed up. Note – six years ago I did this at another well known event and three people showed up in the room all women and one guy. This time we had a large group show up and it was 50% men. I opened the conversation with an overview of all the above observations and asked for ideas about what we were still doing wrong and what we could do more or less of to get more women into the tech/maker network. The women in the session provided the following feedback:
- “I almost didn’t come here because I hadn’t been to this before, I never heard of anyone that had attended, I don’t know any of these guys running it and it looked so crazy I was worried about what I was getting into showing up by myself.”
- “I am too busy to go to something that looks like it involves late night boozing with people I don’t know. If I didn’t know other people who had attended and told me it was amazing, I never would have showed up. If you think the 1950′s are over you are wrong, the young tech guy crowd still treat women as second class citizens and I don’t want to spend a weekend having to shout to get a word in the conversation.”
- “I work at (insert well known company) as an engineer and attended last year, I learned a lot here and it has created a broader support community for my work. This year I nominated other women to attend and then followed up with them to make sure they understood the purpose of the event and what to expect. They all showed up! I hate being separated into the boys and girls clubs so I am doing my job of bringing women into what have been predominately men’s fields, but actually finding women engineers is hard.”
The session was not only productive because of the honesty of the participants, but also because they came up with great ideas about specific things happening on the ground in their city and what they could all do (both men and women) to bring more women into the pipeline and into leadership roles. Bless the men that took an hour and attended this session and are carrying out their acts of support today.
If you really want to engage women (and that is the topic of this post) in your startup community – it requires an effort.
According to Zach, ORD Camp is a meritocracy and they knew there was a large pipeline of highly qualified women in the community that weren’t being represented. They needed to get these women involved in the same way they needed to get leaders from the Ruby community AND the Python Community from companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple. This wasn’t about lowering the bar for women it was about getting women involved that earned the right to be there.
Look around at your next Startup Community event/program and see if the majority of the faces are all men. We know there is a large pipeline of highly qualified women, so if you don’t have many at your event and you want to change that – you may need to change what you are doing.
If you are organizing events focused in an area that is already devoid of women in the pipeline – you need to find a woman willing to be your co–organizer so that right up front it is obvious that this isn’t an all male event. I personally think this is vastly more important in the middle of the U.S. than on the coasts simply due to the small number of women tech entrepreneurs. CA, Boston and NY already have a lot of women leading or co–leading startup community programs/events/gatherings and they have been working hard at this for years.
Hats off to all of them.
Last year Google ran a competition to determine which city would become the beachhead community for their revolutionary Google Fiber network. Although hundreds of cities applied, Kansas City was chosen as the winner and midway through the year the gigabit Google Fiber network became available to several neighborhoods in Kansas City. A gigabit connection is roughly 100 times faster than what the average U.S. consumer is currently receiving from their ISP. This incredible leap in data transmission has led many individuals within the KC startup scene to wonder how they can leverage Google Fiber within the startup ecosystem.
Enter Benjamin Barreth. Late last year after Google launched Fiber in KC, Ben had an idea to transform a typical suburban home into a rent free, co-working space for young startups. He cashed in his Roth IRA and purchased a small 3 bedroom home on State Line Road in what is being called the KC Startup Village. Ben named his creation Home for Hackers and last year at the Thinc Iowa conference spoke with Brad about his plans and the concept itself. After thinking on the idea for some time, Brad decided to hop on board and have a little fun. So this past Monday, he bought his own house in the KC Startup Village, partnered with the Kauffman Foundation, and is currently running a competition to select up to five individuals that will be allowed to live rent free for up to one year in what we’re calling Feld’s KC FiberHouse.
Sound intriguing? If so, here are the specifics.
You can apply online at Feld’s KC FiberHouse Competition. Applications will be accepted up until Friday March 22 (applicants must be at least 18 years of age). A panel of judges that includes Brad Feld, David Cohen of Techstars, Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation, and Scott Case of Startup America Partnership will select up to five individuals to live in the home for 1 YEAR, RENT FREE!
If you’re an entrepreneur interested in FREE RENT, 1 GIGABIT CONNECTION SPEEDS and FREE RENT! Go to Feld’s KC FiberHouse Competition and apply now.
The world is flattening before our very eyes.
Now more so than ever, we’re seeing innovation come from every corner of the globe. The number of startup incubators, funds and activities are all growing at a pace faster than anyone can keep up with. Naturally, this begs the question,
“What’s going on in the global startup community?”
The answer to this question is our mission.
World Startup Report is a social mission intended to document and connect the global startup community. Championed by world-class startup organizations and individuals, World Startup Report aims to cover every startup ecosystem’s culture, market, players, challenges and innovations. Furthermore, World Startup Report plans to create a network of resident volunteer ambassadors who will help others – locally and globally, further understand and integrate with local startup ecosystems.
Over the next 9 months, World Startup Report will be traveling to 29 countries and 36 cities in 6 continents. Here’s our plan and itinerary:
“This is a great opportunity for the world startup community to learn about each other beyond just numbers and names. What makes each community unique and how can we help one another? If we can bring accessible and actionable information to the relevant entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers, it could one day become the foundation for a better global startup community tomorrow,” says Bowei Gai, Founder & Chief Ambassador of the World Startup Report.
Major thanks goes out to 500Startups, StartupWeekend, StartupDigest, LinkedIn, Boingo, XComGlobal, AngelHack, FlightFox, Brad Feld, Dave McClure and hundreds more that are volunteering their time, energy and enthusiasm to make World Startup Report a reality. The trip wouldn’t be possible without all of your help!
Join our 9-Months, 29-Countries and 36-Cities Journey to Meet the Global Startup Community. The Journey Begins on 1/1/2013.
Let’s go change the world!
- The World Startup Report Team