Building and growing a startup is tough. Underneath all the Unicorns are hundreds of companies battling for investment. The growth of Slack or WhatsApp is record breaking. It challenges founders everywhere to hustle for traction. Read the endless articles on beautiful UX design. And remember the struggles to achieve product/ market fit.
Maybe that’s why entrepreneurs often ask for more help. But the best source of help is within. Startups are the best source of innovation in business and technology. Teams also advocate powerful values. Openness, sharing and learning are at the core of the startup dream. Innovation and values lay the foundations for amazing communities.
EIE15 - Scotland's Premier Startup Event
Here in Scotland we had the premier event for our startup community this week. EIE 15 brought together a bunch of amazing companies. The largest gathering of investors we see all year. And every advisor and supporter in the ecosystem. From inspirational speeches to 1 minute pitches with a heady brew of networking. Its an awesome day.
Community Makes the Difference
Anyone can see that it is impossible to recreate Silicon Valley in a 1,000 cities. Hero entrepreneurs and multi billion dollar funding rounds are beyond most places. But we all have the potential to build a great community. I love following and celebrating startup communities. Some of the best ideas and the biggest changes are rooted in community efforts. For example the startup community in South Africa is tackling the problem of xenophobia @iafrikan. Or explore the incredible startup world of Trondheim in Norway @arcticstartup.
Community brings startups three things. Working together means resources, experience and connections get shared. Everyone grows faster as a result. Openness allows small teams to build on the efforts of others. Testing products, linking APIs and tackling markets. Connected ecosystems offer support and encouragement. Just knowing that others have been through the fire and lived makes a difference.
Small Business Consulting to Help Build and Grow
We Can All Be Part of Something Great
“Its not a zero sum game” is a favourite mantra. This is what it means.
How often do you hear that a startup is going to change the world? Communities of startups will change the world. Groups not individuals will be the mechanism. The future of work will be self employed, networked and varied. Fewer and fewer people will work in a corporation or for a government. The skills we learn in our twenties will need to evolve or transform. Everyone will have 4, 5 or 6 “careers”. Communities will support and celebrate this lifestyle.
Work will be for a lifetime. The idea of retirement will become outmoded. Each individual will choose to vary the pace and intensity of work. Adapting to life circumstances along the way. It has to be this way. Demographics and economics will not support the current model. Technology is busy breaking it up.
Not every startup community will be the home of billionaires and unicorns. The vast majority will consist of hard working people, co-operating and succeeding. Having fun and living life well. We all have the chance to be part of something great.
EIE15 reminded me that we have many of the elements in place here in Scotland. Structural basics include great universities and a supportive Government. Two incredible companies have reached “unicorn” status. Skyscanner and Fanduel - check them out. The exhibition hall was full of great entrepreneurs aspiring to join them.
More huge successes would be welcome. Our urgent need is to build a strong community of mid size growing businesses. Too many startups are caught in a trap of small. The billion dollar blowouts are great . We must back them with hundred or more in the $10-100million range. There are lots of companies with the potential. I could list 20 without thinking. The challenge is to make the step from early stage traction to established business easier.
The community also needs a voice. We connect through big events like EIE15. A host of meetups and other small scale events are also available. Open Tech Calendar lists 68 right now. On a daily basis hubs like Codebase, Entrepreneurial Spark and Rookieoven (my favourite) are home to buzzing groups of founders. Someone needs to bring these stories together and tell them to the wider world.
This week reminds me to keep helping startups grow and develop. My small business consulting is all about this focus. This is a community effort. It is about answering questions not a defined formula. If you want to join those discussions subscribe below.
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.