What a Global Startup Community Might Actually Look Like
You've seen the bumper sticker: "Think globally, act locally." It’s a nice sentiment, if a bit fuzzy, and many of us aspire to fulfill it. As it turns out, it has special resonance when it comes to startup communities.
At Startup Genome, we describe our work as "cracking the code" of success for startups and startup ecosystems. Over the past two years of our research, we've focused on determining what, exactly, it means to build a startup community and what impact that might have.
Our initial finding will surprise no one: community matters. The character of the local community affects your startup. So, too, does your global network. Let’s dig into what that means and what elements of the local and global communities matter for startups.
- Get to know lots of different people locally. The level of Local Connectedness—how many founders, investors, and others you know, and how frequently you’re interacting with the community—is directly correlated not only with overall ecosystem health but also your bottom line.
- Help others out. Ewing Kauffman—pharmaceutical entrepreneur, owner of the Kansas City Royals, and benefactor of the Kauffman Foundation—said treating others as you want to be treated is not only a good thing but also smart business. Techstars has popularized this as "give before you get" and we've empirically established that it is a good business principle. We call it Sense of Community, and find that the culture of giving and receiving help in a startup ecosystem is strongly correlated with ecosystem performance and startup success.
- Connect to your global peers. Startups are everywhere, addressing problems and trying to innovate. While it's important to stay engaged locally, founders also need to raise their sights and reach out to founders in other countries. This Global Connectedness exposes founders to what's being worked on at the global innovation frontier, and imports global know-how into the local ecosystem. And, like Local Connectedness, it’s strongly correlated with startup performance.
Your new bumper-sticker mantra should be, "Connect globally, help locally."
So What are We Doing About It?
For starters, we've hired Laís de Oliveira to join our team. Laís is an expert in startup communities, with first hand experience from Latin America to Asia. In her forthcoming book, Hacking Communities, she shares lessons from her experience working with the Malaysian government on several initiatives for the development of their national startup ecosystem and managing Startup Grind across Africa and APAC.
Laís defines community building as increasing the probability of successful collisions: "by creating more circumstances where ecosystem representatives meet and get to know each other, we aim to encourage serendipity and create a safe space for collaboration to happen." Such collisions are the vehicle for greater Local Connectedness.
Globally, our goal is to enhance collaboration across startup ecosystems. Laís will help "build trust between our Members and make the global ecosystem feel smaller, favoring knowledge sharing, access to resources and opportunities which, will, eventually, enhance the chances of startup success anywhere in the world."
We'll be engaging more startup leaders and helping them build relationships with each other ("connect globally"). This will happen in-person, at our Member meetings that occur alongside events like Web Summit, as well as virtually. One new initiative is our Ambassadors program, which will expand on this Global Connectedness to deliver lessons and insights. These Ambassadors will work to apply those insights to their own ecosystems ("help locally").
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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.