The last guest speaker at Sprout Up was Micah Baldwin, serial entrepreneur and TechStars mentor. Micah is from Boulder, Colorado, so he was able to share some of his experiences in that community. But during his entertaining talk he also talked about the reasons why every startup community is the same:
Every community has talkers and doers. In every community there are the talkers, the people who always talk about their business ideas but never actually act on them. And then there are the doers, the people who are actually building cool technology and working on startups. Micah says the only thing separating the talkers from the doers is taking the first step – all it takes is opening your laptop to cross from one side to the other.
Every community has haters. Micah says that he hears it in every startup community – as soon as someone has an appearance of success, people try to shoot them down. He says it stems out of jealousy – entrepreneurs or community members who haven’t experienced your success simply wish they knew your secret. He advises entrepreneurs in this position to approach those people and say “I got lucky. I figured it out. Now how can I help you?”
Every startup, no matter where they are, needs a hacker and a hustler. Micah advises entrepreneurs not to go it alone – he says three founders is a crowd, so he recommends two. One of these people needs to be a hacker, the one who builds things. And the other person needs to be a hustler, the person who gets the world excited about the idea.
Every community needs a champion. He says that it takes 20 years to really establish a thriving startup community, and much of its success depends on the community champions. These are organisations like Y Combinator and TechStars, and investment firms or individual investors. The people who are putting money into new companies, connecting them with relevant people, and championing the area on the world stage.
It’s about the sum of the parts. While it’s important that individuals and companies succeed in the community, what really matters is the success of the community as a whole. It’s not about one startup exiting, it’s about how that reflects on the community and helps raise its profile to outside investors and stakeholders.
Every community has intrapreneurs. Micah talked about the important role played by intrapreneurs, the entrepreneurial people who are working at big companies. He says you don’t have to start a business to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and these people are championing entrepreneurship within the corporate community. He advises people who can’t quit their job tomorrow to start their own business to become an intrapreneur, and to look for ways to innovate and build something new in a corporate setting.