🟠#1 Let the Journey Begin | Startup Communities: say "What?"

A place where the feeling is: “If we work together, we will win together”.

Reading Time: ~ 5min.

🥳 Happy New Year everyone!

Really hope this message finds you safe and well. It is about time to start connecting the dots by first saying Welcome to the first (of many) newsletters from “Connect Dots”.

As someone really passionate about startups and communities, you might be used to see only information about investment rounds, new startup valuations, about the next moonshot and future trends. If you “ask" our friend Google about “Startup communities” you will see that:

1️⃣ There is a lack of information on this topic (fortunately, you have more and more information related to general community building/management and inspiring people sharing incredible content, such as: Holly Firestone, David Spinks, Rosie Sherry, Rick Turoczy, Lolita Taub, Mac Reddin, Christina Garnett, Brad Feld, Bailey Richardson, John Saddington, Derek Andersen, ♾️);

2️⃣ All the pieces of the puzzle are scattered.

There is so much to do on this topic, on a topic that is about people, connections, mindset, teamwork, growth, diversity, success and that puts locations on a map.

Since one of the main tasks of a startup community builder is to connect dots (and yes, we do so much more than just the regular intros), our goal is put all pieces of the puzzle together and create your go-to place to get inspired by case studies, strategies & methodologies, tips and tricks and best practices from some startup community builders, so that, afterwards, it will be time to focus and lead your startup community to an higher level.

Challenge Accepted boys and girls!

- Francisco

As a first step of building a community, you always need to start with a clear purpose, the one and only: “why?”. But, to start connecting the dots, let’s do things a little bit different, starting by answering to:

What is a Startup Community?

It is not easy to give a clear answer, but here goes nothing!

At first glance, looking at the name “Startup Community”, some of you might think that only startups are part of it. Wrong! Startups are, of course, essential for a community to be sustainable, but there are other important players in the game. According to the “Boulder Thesis” by Brad Feld, you have:

  • Leaders: Entrepreneurs;

  • Feeders: Universites, Government, Companies, Investors, Mentors, Service Providers;

  • Instigators: feeders that play a leadership role in startup communities.

The term “leaders” in a startup community, doesn’t mean that there is an hierachy. On the contrary, in the community's DNA, the whole network must work horizontally and you expect from each and every community member to “paddle in the same direction”.

Community Member (noun): Person dedicated to inspiring, mobilizing, and elevating/empowering one another.

▶️ So, let’s now give it a try: a startup community is, above all, a problem-solving platform, a solution that enhances adding value to all parties involved, IF everyone is “in” together, with good intentions and with honesty. This is where magic happens!

To a more in-deepth definition: a startup community is, a movement led by entrepreneurs who, together with a set of stakeholders, and as a result of a cross-colaboration (balancing self-interest, which is difficult sometimes), works with a common purpose in mind, helping each other in a real win-win strategy. This goes from helping entrepreneurs build/grow business and connecting investors to new opportunities to connect companies to new innovative solutions and opening new doors for talent coming from universities.

For all this, it is mandatory to identify resoures, strenghts and weeknesses, set a program with different actitivies and projects, be consistent, play a positive-sum game and have a long-term vision.

You can find different types of Startup Communities, based on:

It is also important not to forget, although there are some differences, that startups that are part of these communities, may also be focused on creating their own movements (community-centric startups/companies), as an acquisition and retention strategy of customers. This is also a topic we will look at.

Moreover, we can also talk about the difference between startup communities vs startups ecosystems (is there any difference?).

The ultimate goal of a Startup Community, for all its members, is to have a safety net, a safe space, where you will find like-minded and engaged people that speak the same language, that trust each other, a space where you learn from one another, push one another, help each other, without expecting anything back.

A place where the feeling is: “If we work together, we will win together”.

To make it easier, more dynamic and engaging for you to connect dots, there is a set awesome tools that you can use. Check it out 👇

  • Commsor - Grow & Measure Your Community All In One Place

  • YEN - helps founders launch a community platform in just a few clicks.

  • Panion - Facilitate connections based on common interests, passions, and goals.

  • Chalk - create your communite based on a voice platform

Note: I will try to not share only the most well-known. Let’s all help each other 🙌

Starting by the basics, either you are thinking about creating a startup community or planning on how to take your community to the next level, I recommend Brad Feld’s book: Startup Communities.

Best part of the book is:

Clear description of what is a Startup Community; And yes, it is not only made of Startups.

➕ ➕ Real examples from real communities: Boulder, Boston, Iceland, TechStars.

On a Startup Community, everybody wins. And for this, the strategy is simple: a no zero-sum game and a bottom-up strategy. Start by asking: “how can I help?”before “What is in it for me?”

That’s it for the first 🟠 connected. There is, for sure, lots of room for improvement. Based on this, please, share your feedback, let me know what topic you would love to see discussed on the newsletter.

Let’s build this together, as a community. Let’s make it count!

A happy, healthy and successfull 2021 to all of you! 🥂