This community building stuff is pretty hard with so many variables and so many different actors all with so many different personalities. It’s a complex system that can’t be managed like a corporation. Like many things in my professional life, I look for a signal that I and the organizations that I serve are on the right track. 

In many ways, I like the concept of a signal over the implied precision of measurement. Measurement is an outcome, while a signal seems to represent the input. I can control inputs more than outputs in just about every situation.

So, today I am going to weave a thread that every startup community is going through and highlight one tiny little signal that seems to have undue influence over the positive outcome we all desire. Got your attention? Follow me for a second here . . . 

= Startup communities thrive on connection.

= Connection typically comes from sharing the same space.

= Space can be temporary (events & activities) but is typically co-working/daytime-full time space.

= Co-working space is one of the few items in the startup community playbook that everyone can get behind (government, corporations, nonprofits and foundations). It is a physical manifestation of our collective efforts.

So, what is the signal in this thread?


Any new innovation space that expects to draw current and future entrepreneurs and their network of employees, investors, advisors and mentors has to make it painless to convene in that new space.

To be clear, I am referring to a new space that is challenged to establish their reputation as a destination for the entrepreneurial tribe. And by painless I mean removing the friction (both real and perceived) to spend time in the new space.

I have visited 100’s of innovation spaces in the last 15 years, and I have sat in at least 50 cities with either new or proposed innovation space, and my first question is always, “what about parking”. The answer is my first organization signal as to how much the leaders understand their challenge.