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Thanks to all of you who participated in Operation Pre-Order for Startup Communities. I got a bunch of fun emails and am excited to share my newest book with you.
The Amazon winner is Jess Bachman. He’s from Bowmanville, Ontario which Google shows me is an hour east of Toronto. Hopefully we can connect during my Toronto trip in October.
The BarnesandNoble.com winner is Chris Rill from Mamaroneck, NY. I’ll catch him on my next NY trip.
The ratio of Amazon to B&N started out about 10:1 but ended up at 6:1. Later entries thought about it and figured out that odds were better if they bought from B&N since they guessed that more people would buy from Amazon. They were correct!
My newest book, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, will ship around the end of the month. As a result, I’m activating Operation Pre-order today.
Between now and Sunday, if you pre-order a copy of Startup Communities, you will be entered into a random drawing. I’m going to pick two random winners – one for hardcopy book orders from Amazon and one for hardcopy book orders from BarnesandNoble.com.
All you have to do to be entered is email me the electronic receipt by 11:59pm EDT on Sunday night. I will announce the winners on Monday morning.
The winners will get a lunch meeting with me at their company sometime in 2013. I’ll spend 90 minutes with you and anyone on your team discussing whatever you want.
If you play, make sure you also Like the book (if you order on Amazon), tweet out or Facebook the purchase, or do whatever other social media thing lights your fire.
I heard the word “connector” several times yesterday at the Colorado Innovation Network summit. I gave the final speech of the day after being in Chicago in the morning to give the keynote speech at the Excelerate Labs Demo Day which was an awesome group where I discovered one company I’m very interested in potentially investing in.
In both cities (Chicago and Denver) I gave a talk about Startup Communities using the Boulder Thesis as a framework. The Chicago talk was short and tight (about 15 minutes) to warm up the event. The Denver talk ended up going almost an hour and having a lot of Q&A. Both were simulating (at least to me – hopefully to the crowd) and the entrepreneurial energy in both rooms was significant.
While I missed most of the COIN summit because I was traveling back from Chicago, I caught a few of the last talks before mine. I also talked to a bunch of people and kept hearing the word “connector” come up – it must have been one of the words of the day. This was used to define a role for many of the constituents in the COIN summit which included entrepreneurs, government, university, and big company folks.
My good friend Phil Weiser, Dean of the CU Law School, introduced me to the word “convener” several years ago. CU Law, and specifically the Silicon Flatirons program that Phil created a decade ago, plays a huge convening role for the Boulder startup community. As a result, it sits in the center of a lot of activity. It’s not a connector – it’s a convener.
Government and universities, in my view around startup communities, are feeders, not leaders. Feeders are important, but they are different – and play a different role than leaders. For a startup community to be vibrant and sustainable the leaders have to be entrepreneurs. This is the first tenet of the Boulder Thesis.
A convener has much more leverage than a connector. A connector implies a lot of work and a lot of control. There’s also a hierarchical dynamic – connectors are choosing who to connect; as a result they become gatekeepers which is not the right role for a feeder. I believe most gatekeepers inhibit the growth and development of a startup community so any role that looks gatekeeper-ish is often an inhibitor to progress.
Conveners quickly develop a reputation for being inclusive and accessible. This is another tenet of the Boulder Thesis – everyone in the startup community must be inclusive to anyone who wants to engage.
I was going back and forth with a founder of a startup in Chicago this morning by email who is now eight years old (not really a startup anymore) and just rented a 60,000 foot office and is looking to help the startup community more now that it’s gotten to a meaningful size. I suggested that, among other things, they play a convener role.
Basically, all feeders to a startup community can play a convener role. It’s more powerful than simply being a connector.
In another example of entrepreneurs just doing it and not waiting for anyone to give them permission, a couple of Denver entrepreneurs created the Denver Startup Map. My friends at FullContact blogged about it this morning and explained how it works. It’s simple – if you are a startup – just go to the map and put your information on the shared Google map. 60 seconds – done.
While you are at it, I encourage you to go enter your startups information into CrunchBase. I’ve been working on a mapping project with Ross Carlson (our IT guy) and Ian Kuliasha (Silicon Flatirons) that we plan to roll out shortly. It’s based on CrunchBase data and the open source Represent-map project that was the basis for Represent.LA map of the LA startup ecosystem that Alex Benzer of SocialEngine created.
We’ve got a nice twist on this that leverages CrunchBase data, will be applicable to any geography, and will be open sourced so get ahead of us and get your data in. We’ll be rolling it out as part of Startup Revolution.
And – while you are at it, if you are a Denver startup, get on the map.
I’m still buzzing from yesterday. The entire day was dedicated to TechStars Demo Day in Boulder. It started with a run on the Boulder Creek Path, followed by Demo Day, lunch with Paul Berberian, Mark Solon, and Pam Solon, a handful of TechStars meetings in the afternoon including one with the guys from J-Squared Media (members of the very first TechStars program), a hangout with Jerry Colonna at his new house in Boulder, dinner with Jerry, Mark, Pam, David and Jill Cohen, Nicole Galaros, and Jason Seats, and then the TechStars Demo Day afterparty.
When I got home at 11:30 I was done. Deeply happy, but wiped out. I woke up late this morning (7am) and wandered into my kitchen to see Mark Solon on his laptop preparing for a run (Mark and Pam stayed at my condo in Boulder this week). We talked for a few minutes and the deep pleasure we were both feeling about being alive and part of the Boulder startup community was apparent.
He then said something that I noticed last night but hadn’t thought much of. At about 10pm the Boulder Cruisers, on their weekly Thursday ride, went by Shine where we were having the afterparty. There was the usual cheering, hooting and hollering, and just generally good karma at 10pm on a warm summer night. This morning, Mark pointed it out as a magical moment. The mix of two totally different communities of people – a huge crowd of entrepreneurs, nerds, and techies in Shine crossed with an equally cruising bike crowd on the street. And the only feelings that were flowing were happy ones where everyone was glad to be there.
Mark then said “That’s the magic of Boulder and TechStars. Everyone is part of the community. Everyone feels like part of the community. Every single person at TechStars Demo Day was part of it – whether they were mentors, investors, lawyers, or the hundreds of people from the broader Boulder tech community who attended.”
The third of the four key principles of the Boulder Thesis at the core of my Startup Communities book is “The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.” We saw that on display in many different ways yesterday. Listening to Mark play it back to me reinforced once again how powerful it is.