Month: October 2011

Oct 3 2011

Entrepreneurial Density Revisted

I’m in San Francisco right now and then New York later this week. When I look at my schedule, and where I’m hanging out, I realize that even though I’m in two very big cities, I’m going to spending most of my time in a very small area.

When asked why Boulder is such a vibrant entrepreneurial community, I talk about a concept I call entrepreneurial density. Boulder is a small town – the city itself is only 100,000 people. Yet the number of entrepreneurs in Boulder is significant. And the number of people working for startups is off the charts. Start with the definition:

entrepreneurial density = ((# entrepreneurs + # people working for startups or high growth companies)) / adult population

My guess is that Boulder’s entrepreneurial density is one of the highest in the United States. I don’t have any empirical data to back this up – it’s a qualitative assessment based on my experience traveling around and investing in different parts of the US.

While population is one measure, I’ve also started thinking about geography as another. In the case of Boulder, the core of the entrepreneurial community is in downtown, which is a 10 x 4 block area. Even though downtown Boulder is small, it has different personalities (yes – we have an east side and a west side), yet you can walk from one end to the other in ten minutes. And, inevitably, when I walk across town I always bump into people I know.

The geography index matters even in places like New York. When I stay in New York, I generally stay within walking distance of Union Square. Sure, I end up in midtown or downtown¬†occasionally, but most of my time is spent in a 20 x 8 block area. The bay area splits similarly – I’m in San Francisco within walking distance or a short drive of many of our bay area companies, but I’m on the other end of the planet from Palo Alto.

As I think more about entrepreneurial communities, I’m starting to expand my definition of entrepreneurial density to include by population and geography. This seems to matter a lot, even in very large entrepreneurial communities like New York and San Francisco.

I’m curious about experiences in other parts of the country, especially entrepreneurial communities that are growing or trying to reinvigorate themselves. How does entrepreneurial density (either geo or population) impact you?

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Oct 2 2011

The Double Long Weekend Run

A few years ago my running coach – Gary Ditsch of Endurance Base Camp – introduced me to the idea of a “double long run.” In this I do the typical weekend long run on a Saturday and then repeat it on Sunday. At first, I hated these, but they’ve grown on me and are now my favorite run.

Today I did a 16 mile run in San Francisco that followed a 14 mile run on Saturday. I did the same run (Market to Embarcadero to the Golden Gate bridge, over, and then back) but added on an extra mile on the bridge today just because I felt like it. I think this is the furthest double long I’ve done (30 miles) – I know I’ve done some in the low to mid 20’s, but I felt like I broke through to a new level today.

I also covered 45 miles this week. This is the first week I’ve done 45 miles in a decade and remarkably it was only on four days of running (I usually run five days a week, sometimes six). I had two early morning flights (to Kansas City on Tuesday, back home on Wednesday) and didn’t run either day. I also had a rest day on Friday. So, I’m closing in on 50 miles a week, which feels great.

I’m gearing up for back to back weekend marathons in October – Newport, Rhode Island on 10/16 and then St. Louis on 10/23. I was a little nervous about my ability to get these done, but my rapid recovery from the Bismarck marathon two weeks ago and the monster week I just did has me feeling good.

For all of you out there supporting my running, especially Amy, thank you!

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Oct 1 2011

The Predictable Flood of Politics Oriented Web Startups

I received at least one email a day last week pitching a politics oriented web startup. The emails start off something like this.

Over $8 billion dollars will be spent on the upcoming 2012 election. The web and social media are critical tools for any candidate. Every candidate will need our stuff and since over $8 billion dollars will be spent, even if we capture a tiny part of that market, we will create a huge company. Did I say that over $8 billion dollars will be spent? Would you like to hear more about the amazing opportunity we have in front of us?

The polite version of my answer has been “Thanks for reaching out but we aren’t interested in investing in the politics vertical market.” But, echoing in the back of my head is “$8 billion dollars? You’ve got to fucking be kidding me.”

I could go on about a rant about spending $8 billion to elect people in one election. But I realize there are lots of different ways to look at this, including the common refrains of “it’s a stimulus for our economy” and “but it’s entertainment, just like football.” And I have no doubt that there are people out there whose immediate response is “but don’t you think your ad-tech related companies make a lot of money off of this?” And as I cycle through the next ten thoughts in my head, I realize that my personal thoughts about this will have no impact on what actually happens.

So instead I just vote with my own wallet and get on board the Howard Schultz Boycott Campaign Donations train. And while I have no doubt that some people can make money creating web services for helping candidates get elected, especially those that include mobile, real-time data, and geo-location, I have no real interest in investing in companies that have the singular goal of helping politicians get elected.

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