SPN Top 10: Things that move a startup ecosystem forward

Matt Helt is the Program Director of Techstars Startup Week. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through Techstars Startup Week, cities all around the world are able to catalyze their entrepreneurial community by bringing together all the stakeholders involved in the growth of startup ecosystem to organize this five-day event. Helt currently…

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Matt Helt is the Program Director of Techstars Startup Week. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through Techstars Startup Week, cities all around the world are able to catalyze their entrepreneurial community by bringing together all the stakeholders involved in the growth of startup ecosystem to organize this five-day event.

Helt currently works with 65 organizing teams to coach them through the process of planning startup week events in their cities. Born in Sioux City, IA, he’s spent the last 23 years in Omaha.

In short, Helt knows a thing or two about startup ecosystems. Here is his list of the top ten things that move a startup ecosystem forward

  1. Startup community building is best when it’s grassroots, entrepreneur-led, and pursued with a “give first” mentality.
  2. All stakeholders should be involved in the community’s growth – not one person or one organization can “own” the ecosystem’s development.
  3. Get comfortable with failure – it’s part of the learning process.
  4. Foster talent as early as possible by engaging university students the moment they enter school – they need to understand that entrepreneurship is a viable option.
  5. Invest in human capital by creating flexible labor markets that attract people with a variety of skills and experience.
  6. Create dense hubs of activity so that more collisions between people happen more frequently.
  7. Build strong mentor networks that are easily accessible by anyone who is building a startup.
  8. Educate potential investors and encourage them to build strong angel networks so that they can fund early-stage startups.
  9. Engage politicians so that they understand the effect policy has on startup creation – encourage them to remove barriers so that it’s easier to start a business.
  10. Make diversity and inclusion a mandatory part of everything you do – make a concerted effort to include everyone in your ecosystem’s development.

Resources (Further Reading)

To learn more about building your startup community, check out the white paper Techstars and Google put together on the “5 Key Ingredients of a Thriving Startup Ecosystem.”

Also, read Brad Feld’s book, Startup Communities. It’s considered by many to be the “bible” of building strong startup communities.  

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