Review: Startup Communities
Lauren Millier / May 1, 2013
Much has been written about the impact of entrepreneurship on local and global economies. In fact, when many traditional and well established jobs began to disappear as a result of the recent financial crisis, start-ups were being created, growing and adding jobs at a record rate. It seemed that overnight governments, universities and investors became interested in initiatives that would foster and support an entrepreneurial culture. Start-up Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in your City is aimed at anyone interested in creating, building and sustaining a start-up community.
Written by Boulder, Colorado, entrepreneur turned venture capitalist Brad Feld, the book advances a framework for creating and building a start-up community in any city at any time, making a distinction between entrepreneurial companies and small business. While recognizing that start-up communities are comprised of a wide range of participants from entrepreneurs, to government, to investors, service providers, universities and large corporations, the author distills the roles of these organizations and institutions to two categories – leaders (the entrepreneurs) and feeders (everyone else), an important distinction in a start-up community. The book also advances the idea that multiple start-up communities can co-exist in a single municipality (Boulder in fact has five – tech, biotech, clean tech, natural foods, and lifestyles of health and sustainability).
Drawing on the success of Boulder as a start-up community, the book describes the attributes of leadership in a start-up community, gives examples of activities and events that drive entrepreneurship and contrasts the role government to that of the entrepreneurs. Framed as the “Boulder Thesis”, the principles of a vibrant start-up community are drawn from four key components:
- Entrepreneurs must lead the start-up community.
- The leaders must have a long term commitment.
- The start-up community must be inclusive of everyone who wants to participate in it.
- The start-up community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.