Yesterday, I made my first contribution to the Startup Revolution blog. In it, I discussed my move to Boulder to work on a sequel to Startup Communities with my co-author Brad Feld, and my early impressions of the community here (hint: they are good!). Last night, I got to attend Demo Day for the 2017 Techstars Boulder class—it was fantastic! A lot of great companies to watch out for.
But, as this has mostly been a blog populated by Brad’s writings—and more recently, by Chris Heivly who I’ll also be collaborating with on startup communities—it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and provide a personal introduction.
Economist. I have an unusual background for someone actively engaged in startup communities, having spent the last 12 years as an economist. That role has changed dramatically over time, but I started out in the types of research and economic policy settings that you’d most associate with economists. Over the last six years my work has focused on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and the role these factors play in economic growth—work that has been intended for practical use in business and public policy decision-making. Training and experience in applied economics provides a useful framework and set of analytical tools for critical thinking and problem solving that are valuable in a wide range of business applications—including in tech and startups. My friend Jed Kolko, formerly of Trulia and now Chief Economist at Indeed, wrote an excellent post about this.
Advisor. Since 2012, I have also been a consultant and advisor, working primarily with organizations in the Internet/software, medical technology, media, venture capital, and non-profit sectors, on a range of strategic, analytic, and public policy issues. Some of these are names you’ll recognize—like Google, Accenture, Bloomberg, Silicon Valley Bank, and the Kauffman Foundation—others are early stage startups and investors.
Writer. To communicate the analytical work I produce, I often find myself writing research reports and shorter-form commentaries on a variety of platforms (research institutions, universities, non-profits, and businesses). Some of this gets picked up in the press. Increasingly, I’ll be writing on this blog and others about issues affecting startups and startup communities.
Entrepreneur(ish). Ok, so maybe I haven’t been the type of entrepreneur you are all thinking of—the type aspiring to or achieving high-growth, creating new product markets or significantly disrupting existing ones. But, I have worked with them. I also founded and successfully exited a small consultancy—and with that, experienced all of the associated lows of uncertain paychecks and setbacks, and the highs of work-winning and personal validation. I have also helped other young organizations get off the ground, and worked with established businesses to expand into new areas.
Educator. For the past three years I have been teaching an online course on “Startup Cities” (formerly, “Urban Innovation”) at New York University. It’s part of a diploma program run by Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo, which exposes mid-career professionals and civic leaders to the new theories and tools of urban economic development. For my part, I’m trying to teach non-entrepreneurs about what makes for a vibrant startup ecosystem, and what they can do to be a part of one. And for the record, the main “textbook” has always been Brad’s book. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’m also looking for opportunities to expand this curriculum and to deliver it in new ways.