There are lots of point of view but determining your formula may just unlock your community.
By now, just about every decent size city in the world has a group of passionate leaders trying to grow their startup community. Some leaders have a government or non-government position of influence. Some leaders come from an academic (teaching or research) position. Some leaders are current or former entrepreneurs. And some leaders are investors.
Regardless of your current day job, your community goal should be very well aligned among these players – to grow your startup community. With that goal in mind, I would posit that the best growth tool impacts the total number of entrepreneurs. But yet, much if not all of a community leaders focus seems to be about supporting existing founders and very little activity about finding, inspiring and creating new entrepreneurs.
The one most common underrepresentation in every community is the number of founders or entrepreneurs in the community.
There are a number of well-documented thought pieces that attempt to determine the optimal number of entrepreneurs in a specific geographic area. I have seen researchers suggest as many as 20% and as few as .3%. Like many complex systems, there are also definitional issues.
For the sake of this post, I am defining entrepreneur as a high-growth entrepreneur and not a main street entrepreneur. If you want to take an even tighter stance, we can choose to just include adults (though I would add that there are many budding entrepreneurs in middle & high school as well as college).
My non-scientific working hypothesis is this: every geography (city, metro, town) has 5-10% of their total adult population as potential future or current founders. For even the smallest of cities/towns (let’s say 150,000 people and 95,00 adults or 60+%) this would yield a total addressable market of 3,250 to 7,500 entrepreneurs. In the interest of taking an even more conservative view (maybe we filter by education or awareness), we can cut that in ½ again and target 1,620 to 3,500 total entrepreneurs in a city of 150,000.
I would imagine that not one city or community has optimized to that number. In most developing or even emerging communities that I work in, I typically see 50-200 engaged entrepreneurs.
Want a meta community goal to shoot for that everyone can get behind? Shoot for identifying and engaging 1% of your adult population to consider entrepreneurship. That is how many entrepreneurs should be in your community.