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.
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™
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.