Guest Post By Michael Witham – Assemble Arizona – (Founder)
Four years ago I emailed Brad Feld after hearing him on This Week In Startups. To my surprise I got a call from him no more than 10 minutes later. I asked him how to build up the Phoenix startup community.
His advice then:
1. Start hosting meetups and groups… and keep doing them even if only two people show up.
2. Start showing progress. People pay attention to growth.
Four years later… after reading Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City…
…We launched Assemble Arizona this morning! It’s a group of my friends who came together with the purpose of uniting Arizona’s Creatives. We use “creatives” instead of startups for a specific reason. We want people who are entrepreneurial, who may not know it yet, to have an opportunity to be involved.
I’ve read all of Brad’s books, and he espoused the pillars of a startup community: Entrepreneurs, Government, Investors, Mentors, Universities. We modeled Assemble Arizona after the Boulder Thesis.
…But I added another element. I liked the idea of entrepreneurial led ecosystems, because we are the ones fighting in the trenches. But my experience in Phoenix showed me that we typically fought battles alone. We were trying to build our own startups alone; in silos. Why couldn’t we collaborate and help one another?
I grabbed a group of my friends and presented the idea of helping one another. I started small with asking for amplification. I literally asked 3 of my friends if they would start “liking” Facebook posts and Favoriting & Retweeting my messages on Twitter. And I would do the same for them. This collaboration took 30 seconds of time, but has proved beneficial for all of us. We made a commitment to one another that anything that needed amplification (events, meetups, launches, promotions), we would work together to amplify. Even if it seemed to have no benefit to our own interest. We were friends helping friends.
This mentality grew as everyone involved received beneficial results. We started getting more conversations on threads and our Twitter followers increased. We added more people to the coalition. We started growing a community of entrepreneurs supporting one another. That community became a weekly meeting to share experiences and problems. Those meetings turned formal and into Assemble Arizona.
We want to share what we have experienced with others.
If the pie keeps expanding, we all win. The market is big enough for all of us to win. We don’t need to compete as startups. ALL startups should be uniting to compete against incumbents. The Googles, Apples, IBM’s, GM’s, and the old businesses that are desperately trying to hold their position. They are competing against us as startups, so why don’t we unite to compete against them?
David vs. Goliath… but what if there are 20 Davids fighting against one Goliath. I’ll take 20 Davids any day!
So put us on our radar. Get involved with us. We want to hear what you’re doing and what works and doesn’t work for your community. We are inclusive to everyone.
We do physical and virtual meetings every Sunday at 3pm (Arizona Time).
We’re looking forward to showing you what Arizona is up to!