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My friends Phil Weiser and Brad Bernthal at Silicon Flatirons (who are a big part of the book Startup Communities) are hosting me in Boulder on Monday for a “Crash Course: Startup Communities – Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.”) It’s happening at CU Boulder from 6:15pm – 7:45pm and Lesa Mitchell from the Kauffman Foundation will be joining us for a discussion. Lesa and her colleague Paul Kedrosky has also been a big supporter and influencer on my thinking in this area.
If you want a preview of what I’ll be talking about, Steve Blank, the successful entrepreneur and brilliant brain behind the Customer Development idea, has an outstanding and thorough (like everything Steve does) review of Startup Communities up on his site.
This is the first public session in Boulder about Startup Communities. I’m in Chicago today at the Startup America Regional Summit where I’m talking about Startup Communities with leaders of about 35 regions that have embraced the Startup America movement. I’ve been having a lot of fun talking about the book, getting feedback from entrepreneurial leaders around the country, and meeting with some new and interesting entrepreneurs who are working on super cool businesses. But it’s always fun to have home court advantage and I’m very much looking forward to spending time talking about Startup Communities with a bunch of people in Boulder who helped me figure all this stuff out.
If you are in Boulder on Monday 10/15 and want to come hang out, register for the event now (it’s free) and come join us.
For the next two days (until the end of the day on 10/2/12) BarnesandNoble.com is having a 50% off sale on Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.
My understanding is that this ($13.47) is the lowest price the physical book will ever be available for. If you’ve been tempted to buy the book but have been holding off for some reason, go grab it now. I’ve been told that they aren’t limiting quantities so grab a few for other members of your Startup Community.
As an author, it’s always incredibly exciting to get the actual finished version of a book I’ve written. While I still haven’t seen a physical version of Startup Communities (it’s still in pre-order), the Kindle version is now shipping.
If you don’t want to wait any longer for it, you can grab a copy on the Kindle right now. And, if you’ve pre-ordered it on the Kindle, it should be pushed to your Kindle by now (if it’s not, tell me and I’ll nudge someone.)
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.