Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City Hardcover – Oct 9 2012
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"Mr. Feld wants to make it clear that all sorts of cities across the world can become home to job-creating new businesses if only they foster the necessary culture. He sets out a framework for a successful start-up community... if more people contributed to the places in which they live, as Mr. Feld and others have evidently done in Boulder, we probably would have more start-up communities around the world for him to visit."(Jonathan Moules, Financial Times book review, November 15, 2012) "A favorite question at entrepreneurship conferences is which world city has the entrepreneurial dynamism to become a major start-up capital on par with Silicon Valley. London, Singapore, Tel Aviv, New York and Berlin are usually cited. Seldom, however, do you hear anyone propose Boulder, Colo. That is, unless you are in the company of Brad Feld, an early-stage investor, technology entrepreneur and author of "Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City," published by Wiley. Feld wants to make clear that all sorts of cities across the world can become home to job-creating new businesses if only they foster the necessary culture."(Los Angeles Times book review, December 9, 2012) "StartUp Communities was designed to engage and inspire entrepreneurs everywhere...definitely worth a look if you're felling fired up about looking beyond the 'Silicon Roundabout' to create real hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity in the UK" (Talk Business, January 2013)
From the Inside Flap
"Startup communities" are popping up everywhere, from cities all over the United States like Boulder, Boston, New York, Seattle, and Omaha to countries like Iceland. These entrepreneurial ecosystems are driving innovation, new business creation, and job growth. Startup Communities documents the strategy, dynamics, tactics, and long-term perspective required for building communities of entrepreneurs who can feed off of each other's talent, creativity, and support. So if you think Silicon Valley is the only place to start your next venture, think again. These days, great business ideas can come from anywhere, and this book is the smart wake-up call you've been waiting for.
Based on more than twenty years of Boulder-based entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist Brad Feld's experience, as well as contributions from entrepreneurs in Boulder and other innovative startup communitiesthis reliable resource skillfully explores what it takes to create a startup community in any city, at any time. With this book as your guide, you'll gain valuable insights into building a more vibrant startup community, as you discover how to increase the breadth and depth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem by multiplying connections among entrepreneurs and mentors, improving access to entrepreneurial education, creating events and activities that activate all the participants in the startup community, and much more.
Along the way, Feld details the critical principles for forming a sustainable startup community, and discusses the various tactics you need to put around them. You'll become familiar with the idea that in order for a community to grow both deep and wideand to enhance its entrepreneurial densityentrepreneurs must lead the charge themselves. You'll also see how developing a long-term commitment to the startup community is the only way to realistically become a leader of it.
Feld continues the conversation by discussing how an openness to include anyone who is interested in joining the startup communityfrom students, researchers, and professors to corporate employees, lawyers, government, and investorsis critical. He also reveals how there has to be activities and events in the startup community that engage everyone in it from top to bottom. So, whether it be accelerators, meetups, or startup weekends, you have to create things that involve everyone.
You can have a sustainable startup community in virtually any city in the world. But you need to know what it takes to really make this happenunderstanding everything from the problems that may arise to the power of the community. Engaging and informative, this practical guide not only shows you how startup communities work, it also shows you how you can make them work anywhere.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
My job is to support and grow the tech sector in Victoria, BC. We have an amazing tech and startup community but Brad has outlined some great methods and models to help us continue to grow. Brad proves with this book that if you want to build a startup community you can learn more from places like Boulder, Austin and Portland than the historical giants like the Silicon Valley. Tight knit communities that work together and give before they get are the hot beds of startups.
The book explains many of the reasons why it's difficult for entrepreneurs to become successful in their current environment.
As an entrepreneur myself, I appreciate the author's candour.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1. Incubators and accelerators are not the same thing. Incubators often work with companies for years, not weeks like the modern day version of accelerators, and their clients have survival rates that far exceed the norm (on average surviving 85% of the time). Incubators often have acceleration programs, but they're for companies that have revenues, that have a management team, and that would like to jump (i.e., "accelerate") to the next level with the help of the competent and experienced advisers who work in incubator management teams. The current use of the term "accelerator" has been appropriated by people who needed a convenient term for their venture investment selection process. For a few thousands of dollars and 90-120 days of mentoring, venture investors see if a business idea (almost always in the software/mobile app/game domains) has the ability to scale. It's not about entrepreneurship, it's not about employment creation, it's not about any of the things incubators do to help their community grow. It's about having a very efficient way to grow a portfolio at the least cost. As an investment strategy, it's brilliant. Is it incubation? I don't think so.
2. Regional clusters are important, as Mr. Feld opines. But the conclusion that they can only be led by local entrepreneurs is, to say the least, a bit over the top. By its nature, the ecosystem has to be inclusive, and the leadership shared. Successful ecosystems - clusters - can be led by anyone who has a vision and ability to articulate what could be accomplished for the region, what it should look like, and how to get there. Many of the service providers, community leaders, and other supporters of cluster development will be there long after the entrepreneurs' companies have been acquired and they've moved on. It's unfair to assume the ecosystem can only be led by the entrepreneurs. That type of clustering requires a lot of participants, from a lot disciplines, and takes time to show results. Many entrepreneurs, driven by a need to create something innovative, have neither the patience nor the time to devote to that kind of development.
Overall it's a good effort. I enjoyed reading about his personal journey, and think there are lots of good insights for both investors and entrepreneurs therein.
With the increasing popularity of entrepreneurship, Brad's book provides a critical framework to build a thriving and healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in any city in the world. At the center of this book is his "Boulder Thesis" which lays out the four key components of a framework for this ecosystem:
1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.
2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment.
3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.
4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack
Each of these components is explained clearly with helpful examples. Personally, some of the highlights of the book was his section on "Mentors" which explains the key behaviors of a mentor, the "Attributes of Leadership in a Startup Community", and the chapter on "The Power of the Community" where Brad reminds us to "Give Before You Get" (awesome!) and to "Embrace Weirdness" --- any author that reminds us to "embrace weirdness" is okay in my book!
In short, I think this is very helpful and practical book for entrepreneurs, government officials, university leaders, and other entrepreneurial-related fields. As a founder of a startup, I highly recommend it and believe this book can provide fuel for a startup revolution... especially when explored in community.
"We had the fantastic opportunity to meet with Brad Feld last Friday in Boulder. The agenda was focused on startup communities and more specifically how we could apply the concepts in his book to the Loveland/Fort Collins ecosystem.
Ben West, Marshall Smith, and I made the drive over to Boulder and had an opportunity to sit down and have breakfast with Brad and ask him some questions. My takeaways are below:
Brad spoke about the success of the various organic meetups that occur in Boulder. He talked about the beginning of the Boulder Open Coffee Meet Up at Atlas Purveyors. A key point he made is to be consistent about having the meetings every month. He said it is easy to get discouraged when there are only a small group of people starting out at first.
He advised that the focus should be on the quality of the meetup and the value that each participant is getting from the event. Furthermore, to grow the meet up he said to have each participant invite one friend each month. Without consistency of meetups, then this aspect of the ecosystem will never grow and thrive.
Our Action Items:
2. I plan to lead through my work with EmployTown a "Skills Bootcamp" once a month to hold discussions on the key skills that job seekers and top performers need to have.
3. Hold "Office Hours" at either DazBog, The Coffee Tree, or The Armory in Loveland once a month to help local job seekers, employees, or managers with specific questions that they may have.
4. Partner with local business leaders to offer a "Open Forum" for questions and answers on a variety of interesting topics that are happening locally.
On Finding Space For The Startup Community
We were concerned about finding the space to hold meetups and other informal events. Brad said this is actually easy. He said to begin hanging out at local coffee shops. As more entrepreneurs and people begin hanging out, the coffee shops will get the benefit of increased business with community members buying food and coffee. As the meet ups increase in size, a smart coffee shop will gladly welcome the trickle down in business to them. For larger events, he said adopt local businesses products as the preferred products of the startup community and they will have to notice. He mentioned his adage--"Give before you get".
Our Action Items
1. Otterbox will be the official technology case for the Fort Collins/Loveland Startup Community.
2. Grimm Brothers and New Belgium Beer will be the beer of choice and served at events in the Fort Collins/Loveland Startup Community.
3. We will continue this same pattern for other businesses in the startup community as needed and applicable.
On Relationships with Other Entrepreneurs/Members of the Startup Community
Brad laid out numerous case studies as reasons to avoid transactional relationships. He advised to give your time, money (when you can), and effort without any kind of expectations. Conversely, if you can't do something the other community members should hold no grudge against that person. That way there is not a culture of indebtedness. ultimately, this will lead to the strengthening of the community and the entrepreneurial fabric in the community.
Additionally, he differentiated neighborhoods and cities. He encouraged us to understand this difference. I was re-assured by this since many of the creative people that we currently know work and live near the Downtown Loveland district.
Our Action Items
1. Marshall, Ben, and I are currently helping each other with our various projects. Marshall and Ben are already introducing me to their contacts. We will continue to build on this to build our network of entrepreneurs and others that want to be leaders/participants in the startup community in Fort Collins/Loveland.
2. Support over community members to give them the best chance at success. Over the long term, more startups and businesses will have success and that will bring in more customers, more employees, and grow the startup community and the entire ecosystem will reap the benefits of this. Eventually, there will be anchor startups that can be pillars to host events and provide further guidance to the rest of the startup community.
3. Work harder than ever at supporting other startups in the community as much as our own.
These are some of my initial thoughts. I hope to expand in a few weeks on other ideas that I have. Of course, I welcome feedback and suggestions from the Fort Collins/Loveland community and from other communities regarding what has worked and what has stalled.
Finally, we would like to extend a huge thank you for Brad Feld for taking time to talk to us and being so gracious in sharing his knowledge and insight in order to help propel us and our startup community."
If you are looking for thoughtful, well-researched answers to these questions, you will be sorely disappointed. Feld's book mainly recounts his personal experiences building TechStars and offers platitudes based on almost purely anecdotal evidence. As a result, the book reads less like an inquiry into what makes entrepreneurial ecosystems tick and more like what would happen if your venture capitalist uncle came over for Thanksgiving Dinner and dominated the conversation all night long.
Finally, Despite Feld's reputation for creativity and innovation, he comes across as remarkably closed minded and full of unsupported prejudices. At one point, he belittles local governments and policy makers who are working to support entrepreneurs in their communities. This kind of pseudo-libertarian rhetoric is, unfortunately, all too common in Silicon Valley's dominant culture (especially among the wealthy, male, and white members of its élite venture capitalist class), but somehow I expected more from Feld.
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