Event Rehash: Communitech

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Guest Post By Anthony ReinhartCommunitech – (Writer)

(Photo: Anthony Reinhart)

(Photo: Anthony Reinhart)

It wasn’t a long time, but it was certainly a good time when Brad Feld dropped by the Communitech Hub Thursday.

Feld, the 47-year-old Foundry Group managing director, TechStars co-founder, author, marathoner and all-around good guy from Boulder, Colo., was on his first visit to Waterloo Region.

Over about six hours at the Communitech Hub, he toured the space, met entrepreneurs, spoke about how to build a great startup community and helped judge a sold-out Startup Smackdown before returning to Toronto for an early-morning flight out.

Feld left us with much to mull over and plenty to be proud about, which I’ll expand on here in due course. For now, I’ll leave you with what he told me at the end of a long day.

Q - So, what did you think of your day here?

A - I thought Communitech was awesome. I had a great day here.

I didn’t really know what to expect because I hadn’t been to Waterloo before, and I thought the community was extremely vibrant.

There’s a huge amount of people who are working on the right kinds of things, and the energy level is off the charts, which is really, really fun to see.

Q - Did anything in particular stand out from what you usually see in startup communities?

 A - I think the concentration of all of the different activities, including the accelerator, the university incubators, co-working space, event space, a bunch of entrepreneurs, the community space, is very powerful.

You see it in some other places, and it’s starting to appear in a more structured way in Chicago at 1871, or in D.C. at 1776, those two buildings. But this is a really mature example of it; it feels really built-out and not just well-organized, but extremely well-run.

It was nice to see, because I think there are a lot of people who aspire to have this at the core of their startup community, but it’s very hard to do, and it’s clear that this has been a lot of hard work over a number of years.

Q - So if you got home and (your wife) Amy asked, ‘How was Waterloo?’, what would you say?)

A - I’d say I had a great time.

I would tell her that I spent the entire time inside one building, so I didn’t really see Waterloo, but I saw Communitech, and I thought it was really cool.

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Public Events for 2/25/2013 – 3/3/2013

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INcubes-Logo   Register: N/A

[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.

Communitech logo    Register
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.
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Communitech logo    Register
Startup Smackdown
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.
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Think Big Arkansas  Register

ThinkBig Arkansas
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.
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  *Brad talks at 6:30pm Central

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Roadmap to the Toronto Startup Community

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I love these informal guides to startup communities. David Crow just put up a post titled Don’t Panic: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Toronto Startup Ecosystem

It’s awesome and similar in format to the guide that Rob Go of Nextview puts up each year about the Boston startup community.

No one asks permission. No one has to go through an education committee. No one has to struggle with formatting. Thirty minutes of writing, a post, and anyone who is interested now has a clear roadmap for how to engage in the Toronto Startup Community.

Well done David!

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The Innovation City Conference

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I noticed on Mark MacLeod’s (a partner at Real Ventures) blog an announcement and description of The Innovation City conference on July 18th and 19th in Toronto. It’s being held in conjunction with the MaRS Discovery District. The conference looks great and Mark is on a panel titled The Startup Metropolis: How to catalyze new companies which fits nicely with many of the things I discuss in Startup Communities.

Great companies can be built anywhere, but they disproportionately emerge from certain cities, and indeed neighborhoods. What are the factors that promote an active start-up community in a given city? Why are some cities so much better at fostering a great ecosystem of startup companies? How can cities foster early, innovative ideas and products, and create a city export by taking them to scale in bigger markets?

I’m hopeful there are entrepreneurs at the conference and they shout from the rooftops that an active startup community must be led by entrepreneurs. Or at least I hope Mark makes that point.

Startup Neighborhoods – An Infographic of Toronto

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When I was in Boston in January I started thinking about the notion of a Startup Neighborhood. In Boston, I found myself spending almost of my time in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge. It’s adjacent to MIT and defined by an incredibly high entrepreneurial density which I wrote about on the post I’m In Cambridge, Not Boston. A robust comment thread ensued and carried over to the repost on the BostInno blog.

While I’ve been using the phrase “Startup Community” to define a geographically bound but somewhat regionally non-specific area (e.g. not a city, not a state, not a province), I’ve never felt like “community” was the smallest relevant element. As I pondered the notion of a neighborhood, like Kendall Square (in Cambridge), or the Leather District (in Boston), or the Innovation District (in Boston), they are all part of the greater Boston startup community. But what should we call Kendall Square, the Leather District, or the Innovation District?

I love the phrase Startup Neighborhood. A cluster of Startup Neighborhoods can make up a Startup Community, which could also be (or not be) a Startup City or a Startup State. Neighborhoods are at the heart of this – the most atomic element in the build up to a Startup World.

Recently, I got an email from a team of folks at the MaRS Discovery District, a non-profit innovation centre, who have been  working on an initiative to explore the startup ecosystem in Toronto and Ontario. They’ve defined a set of neighborhoods (ok – spelled “neighbourhoods” in Canada) and have created a very neat visualization of the clustering of startups in Toronto along with a quick analysis of where startups are located in the city and what draws some of them to particular neighbourhoods.