Connecting Entrepreneurs Blog

Connecticut Technology Events

Why should you care about Connecticut?  Well, read on.

We are pleased to welcome Connecticut to the Business Calendar Network and thank the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) for becoming our newest Regional Connector!

Why is the CTC using the Business Calendar Network to host a state-wide calendar of events on its web portal?  To become a connecting point for innovators in Connecticut.

 

"The key part of our mission is to build a cohesive community in a state that has many disparate regions and sectors; we see the Basecamp Business Calendar Network as an important ally and tool in this effort. We recognized that events are a great way to build and promote a common experience, but there was so much happening that it is hard to plan or even know all of what is going on in the state. The Business Calendar Network allows us to pull all events from similar organizations into one place, so that the technology and business community is now much better connected.”


                            Matthew Nemerson
                            President and CEO
                            Connecticut Technology Council

                                       

Connecticut Technology Council

What Events Should Entrepreneurs Know About?

You may have seen our recent launch the mobile app version of the Business Calendar Network, allowing entrepreneurs, small business owners, and professionals to use their iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones to discover business and professional events happening nearby.  It’s an entirely new way of doing face-to-face networking.

We’ve had 1000s of downloads already.

We can use your help.  People all across the country are going to be downloading the apps and using these apps to look for events they should attend.  Here is my question:

What events should people in your area know about?

Please tell us what groups and events we should include.  Send us an email with a few names for us to track.


Find the Events that Matter on your iPhone

Our goal is to gather the best events for connecting entrepreneurs and the people who can help them start and grow their businesses.

I appreciate your input and invite you to download the apps yourself (for iPhone/iPad or for Android) or learn more about the Business Calendar Network and how you can take advantage of it in your region.  Please rate the apps if you like them, and be sure to keep a look out for some of the exciting new features we plan for the next version of the apps.

 

Lessons from Chile's "Chilecon Valley"

Startups in Patagonia

Given that it was Three Kings Day earlier this week, it was nice to read a post by Steve Gary Blank, author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany.  Blank recently returned from an extended trip to Chile, and he wrote about his mostly favorable impressions of Chile’s effort to become what Blank termed the “Chilecon Valley.”

[Chile has] been thinking hard and smart about the lessons to be learned not only from Silicon Valley, but with only 16 million people, they are also looking for lessons from other small innovation clusters such as Israel, Singapore and Finland. These countries are great models of countries too small to sustain startups of scale on just domestic consumption yet have managed to create innovation with a global reach.

That said, Blank spent most of his time discussing the challenges that Chile must address to achieve its goals.  It struck me that many of these challenges are faced by other countries, states, cities, and regions striving to energize their entrepreneurial ecosystem and become the next Silicon Valley:

Lack of venture capitalists – “Given that great VC’s are much, much more than just a bag of money, this means that startups lack experienced board members with practical experience.”

Weak corporate connections – Having watch the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners, we all know that mining is a huge part of Chile’s economy.  Yet Blank reports that the (largely state-run) copper companies import nearly 100% of the technology they use in their mining operations.  Blank sees this as a missed opportunity to leverage the country’s strength in helping build the future.

Confusion over Small Business versus Scalable Startup versus Corporate Entrepreneurship – as Blank points out, a business founded to remain as a small family-owned business has different needs than one founded to scale quickly to global firm.  Blank relates that Chile is beginning to understand that different types of businesses need different types of support, and that different regions of Chile will want to emphasize one type of business over another.

Inability to attract talent in specific domains – “Saying that you support entrepreneurship and innovation is a start, but the sentence needs to be finished. Entrepreneurship and innovation in what field?  Where will Chile establish technical and innovative leadership?” Blank feels that Chile needs to focus definitively on a few specific domains in order to become a global magnet for talent.

A culture that does not accept failure – Much has been said about California’s ability to see failure as simply an opportunity to learn on the way to the next success.  Chile, according to what Blank saw, lacks that acceptance of failure.  The bankruptcy process, for example, is draconian.  More than anything else, Blank sees this inability to accept failure as THE major challenge for Chile's effort to become a powerhouse of innovation and entrepreneurship.


So, what does this say about your own regional entrepreneurial ecosystem?

  • Are you connecting entrepreneurs with the VCs and other mentors they need to overcome the challenges they face?  (The Business Calendar Network can certainly help with that.)
  • Are you leveraging the strength of your larger industries and companies, connecting their buying power with local sources of innovation?  (The Calendar Network can help bring them together.)
  • Are your entrepreneurial support programs geared for building small businesses, scalable startups, or corporate entrepreneurs?  (The Calendar Network can help you understand the gaps your region might have in its support programs.)
  • Is your area a magnet for talent in a specific domain?  If not, can it be?  (The Calendar Network can accelerate your efforts to achieve “critical mass” in a particular cluster or industry.)
  • Is your culture accepting of failure?  (Well, this is one area the Business Calendar Network might not be able to help you with.)

 

States Where Startups Thrive

As much as we love California, it often breaks our heart to hear people compare themselves and their local startup scene to that of Silicon Valley.  While California is still a giant in the startup world, we now have the numbers and charts to prove that California is just one place where entrepreneurs are alive and thriving.

Thanks to our friends at Technically Philly, who pointed us to these maps of startup fundraising, put together by FormDs.  They show fundraising events for the last year (in the form of Form Ds), broken out by state.  Form Ds are filed by startups and growing companies when they raise money. Since nearly all startups file Form Ds, the idea is that you can use Form Ds to track startups as they are created and grow.

So, this first chart shows that California startups do indeed get the lion's share of the money.  California startups raised $11.5 billion in the past year, more than four times more than the $2.8 billion raised by Massachusetts (its closest "competitor").  Startups in Texas and New York are getting more money than average, and all the other states are plugging along at under $2 billion in funds raised by their entrepreneurs.

Dollars in New Fundraisings, by State

But, California is a big state and Massachusetts a small one.  What happens if you adjust the amounts raised by state population?  This next chart shows that on a per capita basis, Massachusetts entrepreneurs outraised their counterparts in California,  $418 per person to $312.  Note also that we start to see some differentiation among the other states, with Colorado, Utah, Washington, Delaware, and Connecticut coming in between $120 to $240.

New Fundraising Dollars per Person, by State

FormDs has some other charts showing the total number of fundraising events, and the population-adjusted state rankings are also instructive.  Massachusetts and Colorado lead the pack here, with California running third. Other states with a healthy number of funding events are Nevada, Washington, Utah, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Oregon.

New Fundraisings per Million People, by State

It All Starts with the Calendar

Innovate* Knoxville header

We are pleased to welcome Knoxville, Tennessee, to the Business Calendar Network and thank Innovate* Knoxville for becoming our newest Regional Sponsor.

Innovate* Knoxville (innovateknoxville.com) is a collaborative effort between a growing number of organizations, companies, and individuals that are passionate about supporting all levels of entrepreneurship in what is known as the “Innovation Valley.”  This workgroup identified a strong need for a Web-based portal that could help direct entrepreneurs to the supportive entrepreneurial resources that exist throughout Innovation Valley.

Calendar as a Cornerstone

The Business Calendar Network is a cornerstone of the Innovate* Knoxville strategy.  As the web site puts it:

  • Innovateknoxville.com recently launched a calendar application that aggregates events from up to 60 organizations within the Innovation Valley that are of interest to the entrepreneurial, small business, and professional community in the region.  The obvious benefits being:
  • Entrepreneurs save time in becoming more informed about all the events being held throughout the Innovation Valley.
  • Avoids redundancies and overlapping of event.
  • Encourages more collaboration and networking among the entrepreneurial community.

Calendar Eliminates Silos

Knoxville News Sentinal coverage of the announcement at the recent Entrepreneurial Imperative conference highlighted how the Innovate* Knoxville web site and the new Calendar eliminate the “silos” of information that limit collaboration.

"It's frustrating to see all these great organizations and and not know what each other are doing," said Alex Lavidge of Lavidge Unlimited, a management consulting and marketing firm....

"We all have our niche and our own things going on. Some overlap, but we didn't know who was who. I might have a training class with people SCORE might be interested in. This coordinates all activities into one place," Lavidge said.

Shawn Carson, director of the Center For Entrepreneurial Growth, said it's nice having all of the social gatherings, training and other events in one place for people to plan ahead.

"I'm amazed with everything going on in our community. Who knew?" Carson said. iCopyright

Calendar Accelerates Adoption

In a recent conversation, Todd Napier of The Development Corporation of Knox County explained how working with Basecamp Business has helped transformed Innovate* Knoxville from a great idea into a real and very practical tool for local entrepreneurs.

The Basecamp Business Calendar Network has accelerated the acceptance of innovateknoxville.com.  Because of the Calendar, the web site is not just a place for people to come and share ideas.  The Calendar gives people a practical and active reason to go to the Innovate* Knoxville site.  There they can find useful information, thus, causing them to come back time and time again.

Find the Events that Matter™

 

Growth through Economic Gardening

Economic gardening seeks to focus on growing and nurturing local businesses

ICMA recently wrote about the Seven Steps to Developing an Economic Gardening Implementation in an article excerpted from the InFocus issue, Strengthen Your Local Economy through Economic Gardening, by Christine Hamilton-Pennell of Growing Local Economies, Inc.

Economic gardening is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues, and a vibrant local business sector. Economic gardening seeks to focus on growing and nurturing local businesses rather than hunting for “big game” outside the area.

The ideal entrepreneurial ventures to have in your economic garden aren’t necessarily high-tech, but they have probably developed some sort of sustainable innovation in their product, process, or delivery method. They also have a potential or actual market outside the local economic region and create high-quality, living-wage jobs.

As the title implies, the article outlines seven steps for developing a successful economic gardening project:

  1. Gain the support of local officials and other stakeholders
  2. Identify your community’s assets
  3. Develop a collaborative effort among resource partners
  4. Create a system-wide operating agreement
  5. Determine the target audience for services
  6. Develop a delivery system to provide services to the target audience
  7. Develop a communication system to gain community support and buy-in

Would it be presumptious of me to suggest an eighth step:  implement a Calendar Network in your community?  Face-to-face events are the number one way for people to meet, connect, and interact.  Having a Calendar Network that provides a complete view of all the business events happening in a region is an important part of identifying your community's assets, developing a collaborative effort, delivering services to your target audience, and communicating to gain community support and buy-in.

Events Key to Entrepreneurial Community

Flatirons, uploaded by Molas

Brad Feld of the Foundry Group, one of the founders of TechStars in Boulder, Colorado, posted on peHUB last week on How to Create a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Community.  To begin:

  • It’s a 20-year journey, with a half-dozen leaders committed to providing leadership over that entire 20-year span
  • You shouldn’t try to be Silicon Valley, but look to how Silicon Valley played to its own strengths in building its startup community, and do the same.

Feld says that this is just table stakes.  You need more.  The first thing, he says, is to do things that engage the entire entrepreneurial community:

You need to… create real events that have entrepreneurs work together on a regular basis. Meetups and Open Coffee Club type events that occur on a regular basis are a great start. Hackathons, Startup Weekend, and Open Angel Forum events are the next level. Events at the local university, such as CU Boulder’s Silicon Flatirons programs, including Entrepreneurs Unplugged and Entrepreneurial Roundtables, involve the entrepreneurial community with students who are the future entrepreneurs in the community. And programs like TechStars — which engage the entire entrepreneurial community for 90 days a year — are the icing on the cake.

We couldn’t agree more.  Events are the key to a connected and sustainable entrepreneurial community.  Not only do you need to create these events, but you have to get the word out about the events entire entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is the idea behind the Business Calendar Network – get all the different organizations and groups in the region working collaboratively and transparently to build a stronger startup scene.

Mapping the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Dave Lerner, Director of the Venture Lab at Columbia University recently posted a crowd-sourced map of the world’s entrepreneurial ecosystem on his blog.

This is a fabulous idea, though a quick look the map of the entrepreneurial ecosystem shows that it covers only investors – venture, angels, corporate investors, and accelerators.  That is only one part of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.  To us, the entrepreneurial ecosystem includes:

  • Investors, angels, and VCs
  • Entrepreneurs and their management teams
  • State and local EDAs
  • Financial institutions
  • Media and publishing
  • Landlords and real estate
  • Vendors
  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Mentors and advisors
  • Business associations
  • Foundations
  • Educators
  • University technology transfer offices

Lerner himself writes:

Future releases [of the map] will go beyond venture, angel, corporate investors and accelerators. We will be trying to comprehensively cover as many facets of the entrepreneurial ecosystem as possible in an easy to use manner - all in one place.

As a crowdsourced resource, anyone can add an investor to the map.  What other facets of the entrepreneurial ecosystem should be added to the map, or to what I’ve listed above?  After investors, investors, and VCs are listed, what would be the next most important part of the ecosystem to map out?

About Connecting Entrepreneurs

This blog is about the importance of connections.

I’ve written before about how breakthroughs are a social act.  It’s not enough to have a good idea.  It’s only when you share an idea that it begins to have the power to move people, to change people, to change the world.

Our idea for Basecamp Business is simple:  starting and growing a business is too complicated.  The “entrepreneurial ecosystem” meant to support entrepreneurs is too inefficient.

We see entrepreneurs struggling alone, wondering if anyone else has ever had to face the same problems and challenges in getting their businesses started.

We see VCs and angel investors, wondering how they can help their current portfolio of companies break through to the next level, or how they can find the next great early stage investment.

We see EDAs, wondering how they can make do with less, while still making their region an attractive place to start and grow a business.

The answer is, “Yes, someone else has already faced and overcome these challenges.”  By creating a more efficient and collaborative startup community, we have the opportunity to build on each other’s knowledge.  Breakthroughs are a social act.

Photo uploaded by legend2k

Some of the topics we will be touching upon in this blog include:

  • Exploring ways to make the entrepreneurial ecosystem more efficient.
  • Energizing your startup scene.
  • Regionalism and collaboration
  • Industry Clusters
  • Technology Transfer and Commercialization
  • Entrepreneurism and Community-building


We will also talk a bit about the Business Calendar Network:  how it can help create a more connected entrepreneurial community, new features we are rolling out, and how organizations are using it.

We may also talk a little about events.  We have the opportunity to see events from all across the country, and maybe something that worked well in one part of the country might do well in another.

We welcome your comments and questions.

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