Your Startup Community; One Critical Unifying Certainty

Confused about what role you can play in your startup community? Read on.

I have been one of the leaders in building a startup community in Raleigh/Durham NC for almost 10 years and for the last 6 months have been working directly with over 50 communities and their leaders around the world. Helping local startup community leaders establish or grow their ecosystem is both a mission and a business. I am back doing a startup after shuttering my business of 7 years as a seed investor.

Are you one of the leaders of your local startup community?

Do you often wonder what makes a great community vs. a good community?

There are so many variables, facets, and activities that go into community building and leaders are often confused about what to do next. Just a little energy into a search returns over 7.5M books, articles, blog posts and links.

In many metro’s, leaders form committees to create some consensus around direction. I applaud the idea of gathering like-minded people; I hate the idea of consensus decision-making. I call upon an old adage my father used to share that “a horse by committee is a camel”.

Not sure what this means? It is simple, if a group of people gather in a room to decide what the design of a horse should be, the compromise result of that design would be a camel or an animal that can do a lot of different things ok but is not really great at anything. Compromise thinking is bad for companies and worse for communities.

What makes for a great community?

It can be as simple as a group of local leaders who are all individually motivated to lead one of many efforts to address a local startup community need, but then are 100% supportive of another leaders attempt to address a different need they are most passionate about.

I have an adage of my own (I am my fathers son).

Community leaders should connect not coordinate.

Coming together in informal ways to share needs, progress, ideas, solutions and activities in an inclusive manner will ultimately beat the over-organized, formal, business-like approach to moving your community forward.

Every community and their leaders fundamentally understand that a robust startup ecosystem is critical for their local economy. A distributed, mutually-supportive multi-leader approach will beat an over-coordinated hierarchical methodology every time.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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