Startup ecosystems are on all of our minds these days – at least the readers of INC – as most of us believe that our economy is driven by entrepreneurism. And if it is not driven today, it will be tomorrow.
I have shared many times, as a contributing writer of INC, that every community has an opportunity and in fact a mandate to build out a technology ecosystem. Regardless of whether you are a tech founder, a community leader, have a role in economic development, or simply a motivated citizen, it is imperative that you understand and support the concept that technology is applied to everything.
To that end, I operate on these simple beliefs:
- Entrepreneurs are the agents of innovation and disruptive businesses.
- Great entrepreneurs can be found in every community all over the world.
- Every community that wants to attract people, business & investment needs an innovative ecosystem to support entrepreneurs.
Let’s break these simple beliefs down and provide some deeper insight.
A great community operates with the understanding that founders are the center hub of organized activity and it is everyone’s job to support them on their journey. Which means if you are operating a co-working space, or if you invest in startups, or if you have a lead role as an economic development agent in your local government, you must first think about founders. No founders? No ecosystem.
Great is a relative term but you best recognize that there is a huge difference between good and great. Good gets press, great builds a lasting company. Good raises local investment, great breaks out and corrals Tier A investors. Good plows ahead thinking that the good life will stay forever, great recognizes their shortcomings and manages to augment their skills with experienced talent.
The days of convincing a large manufacturer or the North American headquarters of a large conglomerate to land in your region and treating that decision as the key to regional economic vitality are long gone. Occasionally this opportunity will present itself and occasionally you will win that battle with your peers. But, the tax incentives and deal provisions will likely erode most of the benefits in the short and mid term.
What wins in every community is a complete embracing of organic entrepreneurial growth. What has been seen across the world is that an innovative ecosystem attracts talented people. Talented people create amazing companies. And, amazing companies define a new community and the circle of life continues.
Startup community leaders are faced with a daunting set of tasks in order to grow their ecosystems. Confused on where to start – try locking down on these 3 principles and go from there.
This article first appeared over at INC.com.