I have just been browsing Brad Feld’s tome on Startup Communities and picked up on one of his classical problems. Firstly I ignored his advice on avoiding old white guys (but maybe you shouldn’t) and totally agreed with his stop whinging about there is never enough money. There is always plenty of money for a good idea, a great team and smart execution.
Yet the ‘problem’ that stood out was about making only short-term commitments to startup communities. Now this one hit home. I have been involved around entrepreneur/startup/brave-new-world communities for many years. Many like myself travelled to the holy grail – Silicon Valley – and then brought some of that ‘magic’ back home to other regional cities in the USA or to Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc etc. to start other communities. Yet as I watch the ebb and flow of these communities over the years I have noticed an extremely high attrition rate. For a number of reasons obviously yet this one point that Feld makes possibly captures the core problem. A lack of commitment, not only from the entrepreneurs and visionaries but also from universities, government at all levels and particularly from a public that has never been really educated in the whole economic development thang!
Most Australians, and I sense this applies to a larger and lesser degree in other countries , still think economic development means roads and bridges. We humans are sometimes slow to adapt. The average punter still thinks the Internet is magic or just takes it for granted. Hence things like startup communities are so abstract they struggle to get ‘real’ funding and commitment. Once initial enthusiasm and the venture capitalists have left many just collapse.
And so as the nature of work changes from the big projects and big corporations of the industrial age back to a more local and immediate economic model that is based on the collaborative economy startup communities are something that we all need to understand and support. To see what that might mean have a look at this short video and then tell me what you think…