October 29, 2014
During the panel “Building an Entrepreneurial Community” at this year’s Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference, Sarah Evans sat down with individuals from four very different, but successful, entrepreneurial communities. Joining Evans on stage was Matt Haggman from the Knight Foundation; John Curtis, Mayor of Provo, Utah; Lisa Besserman, founder of Startup Buenos Aires; and Melissa Withers, chief of staff at Betaspring.
This panel hit on four very different realms of starting up, ranging from the government perspective all the way to the global market. Haggman, Curtis, Besserman, and Withers all discussed and investigated the factors necessary for building and sustaining a successful entrepreneurial community.
To start, they brainstormed a list of the top 5 points needed for success:
- An entrepreneurial group of people
- A defined sense of place so you can know your environment
- Investor wealth to tap into
- Global initiatives
- A really big funnel that brings new people into the ecosystem
Granted, these are only five surface-level tips, and Evans dug in deeper with the panel.
Cities and communities have a responsibility to create a platform that’s focused on educating entrepreneurs, according to Besserman. The Knight Foundation also cleaves to this philosophy as they’ve fostered a bottom-up, grassroots movement to build out a supportive network in Miami. The needs of entrepreneurs vary; and if you can build a platform centered on education, you can begin to create an environment where an entrepreneur can work, share, and connect successfully.
Which is where the world-class network that Withers mentions comes into play; building a healthy community is important, but it’s far less important to her than establishing this network. Entrepreneurs can get away with living in a less-than-healthy community, but only if your network is on point. Thus, fostering an entrepreneurial community hinges on building companies within the community that can compete and succeed on a domestic and international level.
Along the way, governments can help build out companies as well even if they can’t provide funding. According to Curtis, one of the biggest boons a government can offer a startup is credibility via access to the press. A local government can help entrepreneurs in the education aspect of the community, showing them how to navigate the sometimes hectic framework of the city’s bureaucratic system.
It’s not always easy, and not every company is going to succeed no matter how much money you pump into it. However, if you can start from a place of educating your local entrepreneurs, you can then effectively begin constructing a community that spawns success.
Here’s the video:
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