Business start-ups are the engines that drive innovation and progress in today’s hyper-connected global economy.
And at their very centre are Startup Communities.
These communities are driving innovation, creating jobs, and invigorating small business energy.
Simply stated, start-up communities attract and breed entrepreneurs who go on to build companies like AirBnB, Dropbox, Sendgrid and many, many more.
Squamish is a small town with big ideas currently going through a transformation. Our population is growing quickly, but the local job market is not keeping pace.
We are challenged in finding ways to create local jobs and evolve into a sustainable, self-sufficient community.
So, how do we create jobs and transform Squamish into a great place to live, work and play?
The solution to me is simple in theory. Jobs come from businesses and businesses come from entrepreneurs, so it seems logical to me to find, attract, nurture and support entrepreneurs.
One proven way to do this is by establishing and growing an inclusive startup ecosystem.
Startup communities are nothing new. Author, entrepreneur and investor, Brad Feld, is the co-founder of Tech Stars: a mentor-driven business accelerator in Boulder Colorado that has succeeded at building one of the most successful models for start-up communities.
“Boulder has developed a culture of sustained mentorship, where new founders place great value on seeking out mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs generously offer their time and expertise,” Feld says.
Boulder has an incredible Startup Community, and here are the key points in making one.
- It takes a long term commitment, as many as 20 years.
- The entire entrepreneurial stack needs to be engaged.
- Startup communities need leaders and feeders
- Leaders must be entrepreneurs
- Feeders are government, lawyers, accountants, angel investors, venture capitalists & educational institutions & marketers
- Continually attracting and recruiting fresh people into the system
There have to be the best mentors in the community who are ready and willing to participate and who understand the “give first” culture that is so important to successful startup communities.
“When you have a whole community behind you, rooting for you to win, and making connections for you—it’s a huge, unfair advantage,” writes Feld.
What’s being done for startups with Techstars in the past seven years is fascinating and exciting in that the mentorship-driven accelerator model is and has been duplicated in over 1000 local communities around the world with great success.
Techstars has helped fund over 100 companies a year, and they have more than $70 million under management.
If Squamish wants to create a sustainable economy well into the future, it needs to look at new solutions for creating jobs and I feel that creating an active, vibrant startup community is a long term solution to our present day challenge.