On a recent episode of the Rocketship podcast, Jay Chernikoff of DeskHub talks about how coworking spaces are an important part of building entrepreneurial communities in secondary and tertiary markets (not San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc). As startup community builder in such a market, who operates a coworking community, I found their entire episode interesting and valuable but here are two ideas that I wanted to share here.
The natural inclination is to think a startup community is first and foremost a group of entrepreneurs but, as Brad Feld points out, it's much more than that: “government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers and large companies”. You could easily add others to that list, too, like startup employees, small business entrepreneurs, Chambers of Commerce, and membership organizations.
Community building isn’t what you’d call a traditional career option. You won’t find it in the Federal Government’s Standard Occupational Classification system (yes, they have one) and there are only a handful of us pursuing this full-time in the Midwest.
I’m going to use post series as a chance to explore issues related to community building over the next several weeks. I’ll tackle a few topics that are always front of mind for me, like funding a community building role, participation by the community, empire building, event organizer fatigue, etc., and hopefully check in with experts from around the region.
I tend to think of the startup community as a really welcoming place. If you have an idea, start working on it and then raise your hand to tell people about it (in an authentic way) - people will help you out.
We don’t always do a particularly good job of getting the broader community (those who haven’t self-identified) involved in what we’re doing. I’m not sure the best way to do that but I think that it's crucial to long term sustainability of our community.