Startup Community Ecosystem Roles

I think everyone passionate about their community and startups asks the question. What are the roles needed within a startup community ecosystem to be successful?

Building startups for the last 8 years (within different communities) and working with Startup America Partnership the last few months has given me some great perspective to take a stab at this question.

Members of strong startup community ecosystems stay involved and add value by playing a wide variety of roles. In designing a startup ecosystem or strengthening an existing one, companies should incorporate an assortment of roles into the community structure and help members take on new roles as their needs change.

Below are 17 roles that I’ve put together as being critical to a any ecosystems function, preservation, and evolution. Please add your comments below. I’m not saying I’m an expert, just throwing out some ideas.

  1. Mentor: Teaches others and shares expertise.
  2. Investors: Invests in all stages of startups: seed, early, and growth.
  3. Learner: Enjoys learning and seeks self-improvement
  4. Back-Up/Supporter: Acts as a safety net for others when they try new things, take risks, fail. And they participate passively as an audience for others.
  5. Partner: Encourages, shares, and motivates others to build high growth companies.
  6. Storyteller: Spreads the community’s success stories throughout the community, state, and nation.
  7. Historian: Preserves community memory; codifies rituals and rites
  8. Hero: Acts as a role model within the community. Someone to look up too. Someone who has been there done that.
  9. Decision Maker: Makes choices affecting the community’s structure and function
  10. Provider: Hosts and takes care of the other members
  11. Greeter: Welcomes new members into the community
  12. Guide: Helps new members navigate the culture
  13. Catalyst: Introduces members to new people and ideas
  14. Performer: Takes the spotlight and serves as a figurehead or icon of what the startup community represents
  15. Ambassador: Promotes the community to outsiders
  16. Accountant: Keeps track of people’s participation
  17. Talent Scout: Recruits new members

———-

What other roles are necessary within a startup ecosystem? 

 

What’s up with all the LA Incubators and Accelerators?

Are they legit? Why so many? How much money are they putting up? What kind of deals are they looking to invest in? Do they do follow on capital? How are they going to scale with talent?

These were some of my questions going into last nights Lean LA event titled “Learn About LA Incubators/accelerators” – really glad they put this event on.

If your curious about what Lean LA is, it’s a non-profit organization that is all about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. The organization is run by Pete Mauro, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Joe Zulli. I haven’t had the chance to officially meet Patrick or Joe, but my coffee meetup with Pete was very positive.

By the size of the crowd last night (350 people), I wasn’t the only one with questions. The event was packed with people waiting outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hoping someone wouldn’t show and they could score a ticket to come in.

Another good call was the meal ticket that came with the admission price. How awesome is that? You could redeem at any one of the food trucks outside. Well done with this one!

So, let’s get to the meat of this thing. Why in the world would you want to move to Los Angeles for a startup? I wouldn’t, just being honest here. Not that I don’t think that everyone is doing a great job building the infrastructure and figuring it out, I just prefer to be in a place that already has it figured out.

Essentially all the incubators/accelerators said the same thing: they are working their tail off to create the infrastructure that will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into and build great companies. I think this is important and overtime will happen. Do I think it will happen quickly? No. As with any startup infrastructure, you have to work your nuts off, take a ton of risks, put your ass on the line, be willing to lose some serious dough, f some stuff up, and then, after all that, make the decision to keep going. If LA can do this, they will, overtime, have something great!

And, the other thing is talent. I think there is talent as there is talent everywhere, you just have to find it, organize it, and put it to good use. If you can’t get talent involved in the community that is your own fault – this really means you suck at selling.

The panel was fantastic – mainly because it was moderated by Dave McClure who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and put people in their place – not in a negative way – I think he was just trying to challenge everyone to really think about what it is going to take to build this kind of community.

After Dave got everyone loosened up – it didn’t work for everybody, the event started with a representative giving a quick intro, history, and what their interest was in supporting the LA startup scene.

Some of the people who were on the panel were:

Start Engine (Howard Marks), Idealab (Allen Morgan), upStart.LA (Dan Dato), K5 Launch (Amir Banifatemi), Originate (Jeff Scheinrock), Amplify (Jeff Solomon), Muckerlab (Jeff Rannala), and Launchpad LA (Sam Teller).
______________________________________________________________________

Here is a list of all the incubators/accelerators and how they are structured as it sits today.

LeanLA.com Los Angeles Area Incubator & Accelerator Cheatsheet.

(Courtesy of Patrick Vlaskovits, more details here.)

Start Engine: 120 Startups @ $20,000 per year
Idealab: 4-6 Startups @ $50k – $500K a year
upStart.LA: 5-10 Startups @ $18,000 each class (1-2 classes per year)
K5 Launch: 10-50 Startups @ 25K-$200k
Originate: 10-15 Startups @ $100K-$1.5 million per investment
Amplify: 20 Startups @ $50,000
MuckerLab: 20 Startups @ $21k a year
Launchpad LA: 20 Startups @ $50k a year
______________________________________________________________________

Here’s the good news – at least from what I could see, people are fired up about entrepreneurship and they’re willing to step up to build the community, shape the culture, and pour cash into companies. And, for me, I don’t care where it is, if this is happening and people are trying, I am excited and fully supportive of it.

Now, go do your part…good things are happening.

 

ITS TIME TO PERSEVERE

It’s time to persevere, and there is no better time than now. Why? Well, let me quick tell you why. The new year is just around the corner and it’s time that we rid all challenges, difficulties, and any past failures and move forward with a positive attitude and outlook on the future.

Today, around the world there are thousands if not millions of innovative leaders that are struggling to do good, meaningful work in a time of overbearing bureaucracy, horrible leadership,  and non stop failing solutions.

If you look around, you will see that everyone is working harder, and in most cases, in greater isolation than ever before.

Between the fast pace of work and life, family, balance, and the fear and anxiety, it is becoming almost impossible to have the energy and enthusiasm to keep going. However, this also means that everyone must stand up, brush off the years of good efforts that have been taken away by events beyond our control, and lets continue our efforts to do and achieve great things despite all difficulties, and failures.

What do you say? Let’s go!

 

MEGA VISION

Do you have a mega vision? Or is your vision very micro and nothing of any worth? Might it be time to throw out your ridiculously small-minded vision and come up with a mega vision for yourself, maybe your company, our country, and our world?

Don’t settle for a small vision. Small visions don’t change the world. Small visions don’t get us or you out of challenging times. Small visions are pathetic and pathetic is something we need less of these days.

Continue reading

IS IT TIME TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON? HERE ARE 7 STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE

You know what I love about video games? They have a reset button. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in the game, or what you’ve done, all you have to do push that little button on the controller and whalla! The game resets and you are off to a whole new start. Now how cool is that?

I’m not a big gamer or anything, but I do love Super Mario Brothers. A few years ago when one of the new versions came out, I literally sat there and played until I beat the whole game. I had blisters on my hands, and my eyes were bulging out of my head!

Continue reading

YOU DO NOT NEED MUCH TO BE HAPPY

Do you realize that happiness does not come from all your stuff? I want to ask this again, do you realize that happiness does not come from all your stuff? It is true.

Photo Courtesy of: Creative Commons

For years and years I thought the more stuff I had, the happier I would be: more motorcycles, more cars, more houses, more money, more, more more, I wanted more. What was I thinking? I guess I wasn’t, I was just trying to fit in.

Continue reading

THE WAY TO OVERCOME FEAR IS TO DO IT ANYWAYS

How many of us need to be more like Mother Teresa? Talk about a woman on a mission! She was a Catholic nun of Albanian who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India in 1950. Ministering to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, she guided the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, all throughout India and into other countries.

Photo Courtesy of: Creative Commons

She was as tough as nails and never turned away from doing things anyways. She said, “Feel the fear and do it anyways”.

Continue reading

STOP FAKING IT AND START MAKING IT

From marketing manager to brand manager to online community manager, things are moving quickly. Over the years I’ve lived pretty much all of these positions. What I have learned more than anything today, is that people don’t want you to suck. They want you to be real and authentic.

Photo Take From: Creative Commons

For years and years, companies main goal was to “push” their products or services onto you through the form of advertising. Things have since changed, especially if you want to succeed today. The goal now, is to build passionate online communities.

Continue reading