Our Mission (and Why This Needs to Exist)

Here's how Startup Genome got started, why were building it, and what our plans are for the future.
Startup Genome
on June 24, 2013

First the back-story:

When I first met Dave, he reminded me of William Shatner.

He's very intense. He pauses in the middle of sentences for dramatic effect. And yet he has this charm about him that draws you in.

Just listen to him talk about Startup Genome:

Intense, right?

Dave's intensity is born from a genuine passion for helping other entrepreneurs.

His actions speak for themselves: Dave is a 3x entrepreneur, angel investor, community builder, advisor and mentor. Dave organizes events for entrepreneurs and investors all over Manhattan, serves as a mentor to numerous startups, and serves on the board of the New York Tech Meetup, Columbia Venture Community, and the New York Venture Community. Dave is the Director of the Venture Lab at Columbia University Tech Ventures where he's spun out 70+ technology startups over the last six years, and he's an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School.

The guy literally uses every breath to help entrepreneurs. Here he is persuading students to start a business before they graduate.

When Dave posted a map he made of the NYC startup ecosystem on his blog - and later Boston - I immediately reached out to him.

During my time as COO of Startup Weekend, I met community leaders in cities across the world making maps of their city's ecosystem. They used spreadsheets, mindmapping software, or sometimes even built websites just for their city.

[caption id="attachment_36" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Iowa Startup Scene A map of Iowa's startup scene by my pal @xianrenaud[/caption]

These people care deeply about their local startup community, but their maps needed some help:

  • They weren't available to everyone.

  • They weren't sustainable. In some instances, the mapmaker would move to a new town, forget to hand it off to someone, and the map would die.

  • They weren't complete. Some only listed startups, some only listed investors, and most failed to list community-run organizations and events that support the ecosystem (what we call "Community Enablers").

  • They were difficult to use. They weren't interactive. Only a few attempted to map connections between people and organizations, and none of them displayed the data visually.

That's why Dave and I went to work building Startup Genome.

Our vision is to build the most complete and accurate database of the world’s startup communities, present it in useful, beautiful ways and provide tools and reports that community builders can use to gain visibility into what's happening in their community and make better decisions about how to grow it.

We want to:

  1. Build the freshest startup ecosystem database in the world.

  2. Focus everything on communities.

  3. Make it available to everyone, everywhere.

  4. Build filters that let people slice and dice the data in ways that are truly useful.

  5. Layer on visualizations that display the data in ways people can understand and remember.

  6. Offer embed tools, plugins and an API so that anyone can build their own visualizations or pull Startup Genome data into any of their local projects.

How we're getting there:

Step 1 (*DONE*): Build an MVP website (searching, filtering, profile pages, city pages, adding/claiming profiles, etc.)
Omaha city page

Step 2 (*DONE*): Import existing data sources
CB Imported

Step 3 (*DOING*): Onboard the right people in each city to cleanse and curate their city's data

Step 4: Build beautiful, intuitive visualizations
visualization examples

Step 5: Open the API

Beyond: [we'll share the full roadmap in a future blog post]

Why Startup Genome needs to exist:

  • New entrepreneurs need a better way to get plugged in.

  • Existing entrepreneurs need a way to quickly understand and filter their local startup community.

  • We all need an easier way to stay on top of what's happening in our cities and in our industries (who launched? who's behind that company? who's investing in my city? who's hiring? what clubs or events will help me get plugged in?).

  • The mapmakers in each city should have an easy way to share their maps with the world.

  • City data should be connected so we can understand how cities are interconnected.

  • Finally, visual learners (like me) need a way to orchestrally view their city's ecosystem.

Like what we're doing and want to help?

Are you your city's mapmaker?

Learn about being a Startup Genome curator.

We need help building visualizations

Have ideas? Are you into data viz? Email me at [email protected]

Contribute some code.

We could use help on both ends (front and back). Email me at [email protected]

Finally, we want your feedback.

We're building this for you, so please tell us what you want it to do. You can reach us on Twitter @startupgenome or email at [email protected]

Thanks for reading,


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Our data shows that collaboration is at the core of the fastest growing startup ecosystems. We work with forward-looking organizations who understand that joining the global startup economy is key to to drive innovation and spur economic growth.