I had a pretty cool opportunity to witness 10 other versions of what we are seeing in the Triangle regarding startups and entrepreneurship yesterday in Washington, DC.
A few of our locals involved in the quasi government-private initiative called Startup America (Mital Patel, Adam Hill, Adam Klein, Brooks Bell) invited me along for the ride. The Startup America team is led by a very dynamic serial entrepreneur named Scott Case and is funded and supported by both the Kaufman Foundation as well as the Case Foundation (run by Steve and Jean Case of AOL fame and no relation to Scott).
Yesterday was both a celebration of what is happening around the country as well as an opportunity for other regions to share regional startup history, current programs and future bold initiatives. And we got to do this in front of some senior fed/gov officials including Sean Greene of the Small Business Administration and former LaunchBox Digital founder, Todd Park, CTO of the USA (what a great title) and others.
After I sat through 11 state presentations (3 minutes each in rapid fire format), it occurred to me that other places are kicking ass too. Is that good for us or bad? My first thought was, “we are bigger, better, ahead of these other areas”. Bad thought. Bad thought!
You see this is not a zero-sum game. It is obvious to me both locally and nationally that there is a wave building. And there is plenty of water for all of us to ride. That is the good news. The challenge I see is that we cannot rest on what we have done to date. There is so much more to do. My partner in TSF seeded the Triangle.EDU meeting back in January to encourage more college students to consider getting involved in startups. 250 students from Duke, UNC and NCState gathered to hear 5 local founders share their story. However, this is just a start. Who wants to pick this up and run this again in September where we should shoot for 1,000 students? That is how many attend other area events.
The American Underground and the HUB-Raleigh folks are building out space which represents a central meeting place for individuals and companies alike. Check. But they need more participation (like on a daily basis). Have you stopped by one of these places?
The Denver Tech Meetup has 9,000 members. This probably includes the Boulder folks but the I share this to show you how high the bar is. This group is run by entrepreneurs, not VC’s (like Dave Neal, Jason Caplain or me), not service providers or government officials or associations (who are all trying to help BTW). Where are the grass roots, entrepreneur-originated events? We are here to help facilitate if needed – just ask.
So, what are you going to do to help keep and extend the local wave?