I am excited to announce a new gig for me. For the first time in over 10 years, I will be working for a company. Yes, I am hitching my wagon to the man. But first a little background.
I wrote a month ago about the need to establish, curate and engage with your network. I posted it to INC magazine (the 161st article I have penned for them) under the title, “My Business Just Closed, What Do I Do Now?” If you have not read it, please take a second and read through it. The experience was really awesome and sets the stage for the rest of this blog. Go ahead, I’ll wait . . .
One idea I was working on for the past 2-3 months, was to build a new business around a paid speaking/paid writing/paid startup workshop bundle. I have been lucky enough to get paid for my speaking and writing over the past two years and I had tested a paid workshop in Raleigh with seven eager founders last year that went really well. What if I could roll out this bundle throughout the southeast (there are 14+ good sized communities within a four hour drive of Durham)?
In early December, I wanted to hear what was going on in high-velocity startup communities outside of Raleigh/Durham. As you know, I have spent a lot of time here pushing, cajoling, operating, fundraising – you get the idea. At times I wonder if I am hearing my own words rebounding back to me from others. To test against that, I wanted to get out of Dodge and better understand what are others doing that I am not aware of. The answer? Go to Mecca. Mecca for me was David Cohen, Founder & CEO of Techstars and Brad Feld of Startup Communities fame.
You see, I reached out to them back in 2009 when the idea of creating The Startup Factory (Triangle Startup Factory) was front of mind. As is their nature, they answered with their #GiveFirst mentality. Much of TSF and frankly the area’s attitude had its roots in those early discussions. In the fall of 2010, Adam Smith (Square One Bank at the time) and I brought both of them to town as they were promoting their new book, Do More Faster. We put over 300 people in Bay 7 at ATC here in Durham!
Over the years, Brad, David and I occasionally dropped each other an email, but last fall I reached out to them requesting some face time and we finally locked in on an early December visit to Boulder, CO. The agenda? No real agenda per se. I wanted to talk about Techstars expansion plans as well as pick their brains on community. They wanted to hear about The Startup Factory and my experiences operating in RTP (as Brad refers to our area).
The net result of that meeting after three trips to Boulder in six weeks is a new role and business for Techstars. Every time I doubt the process, the process comes through for me.
Two weeks ago, I officially joined Techstars as an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) with the charter to uncover a business that will deliver yet-to-be-determined products & services for communities around the world. Every community today has a startup ecosystem goal bigger than the position they hold today. I will help Techstars bring their treasure-trove of assets & experiences combined with other tools outside of the Techstars family to accelerate community development. This effort will coincide with a sequel edition of Startup Communities from Brad that I will be involved with.
Working with David, Brad and the rest of the Techstars team (160+ strong) will be a complete blast and will have a lasting global impact.
Just sharing this makes me smile ear to ear. This role feels like the next natural step for me. I get to work with an amazing organization (25 accelerator locations worldwide today) and I get to help make an impact to those communities just beginning their nascent journey.
Oh, and I get to stay in Raleigh/Durham and bring these best practices back here to help our community continue on its path.