I liked this latest post on A 3-Step Guide To Whipping Your City's Startup Scene Into Shape from Billy Warden and Greg Behr that appreared in Fast Company. I am not a fan of the idea that all communities should model themselves after Silicon Valley, but this post has some excellent advice.
Any city or town, no matter how small, can whip its startup scene into competitive shape. To that end, we’ve developed a three-step guide we call R.U.N.:
•Rally Around Risk
•Network Frequently and Widely
It's this last point that I think is the most important. The greatest challenge facing any entrepreneur is the feeling that they are alone, that no one understands what they are doing, and that they have nowhere to turn for help. Creating a vibrant networking scene, that enables entrepreneurs to connect with each other and with the support available to them within larger community, is vital to the success of entrepreneurship in any community.
Communities can offer a corrective by establishing networking activities that connect entrepreneurs to the resources they need. Chambers of commerce, businesses, and grassroots organizations can all contribute here.
To some, an essential piece of networking is a common space--if not an incubator, than a hub where young companies and entrepreneurial support organizations suit up everyday. Nothing promotes the exchange of ideas, skills, and tricks of the trade as quickly as putting like-minded people together in one room.
Keep in mind, the networking imperative isn’t just about amassing resources within your city limits. For best results, think and act regionally.
This is why we created the Business Calendar Network, so that startup communities (read entrepreneurs) can thrive by connecting with the people, resources, and knowledge they need to start and grow their businesses. They don't need to struggle alone and in ignorance. What they need to know, and who they need to know, are both at their fingertips, through networking.
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.
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.
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.