Startup Massachusetts Team Learns its Place at Startup America
Mad Libs. Vibrancy. What is the difference between an incubator and an accelerator? These were all part of the Startup America Summit in Boulder, Colorado June 4 and 5, 2012. For two days, the Centennial State was Entrepreneur Central with more than 120 regional Startup America champions and wannabes journeying to Boulder, including me and Cory Bolotsky from MassChallenge/Startup Summer. We are part of the Startup Massachusetts advisory board.
The Startup America Partnership (love the singularly simple domain http://www.s.co ) is based on a simple premise: young, growing companies create jobs. Over the last year and a half, Startup America has been creating a nationwide network of entrepreneurship boosters to support entrepreneurs. The regional organizations share best practices and ideas. Both were plentiful at the two day conference held in the Wolf Law School building on the campus of the University of Colorado.
The Wolf building is also the site of the Boulder New Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering of the local tech and startup crowd. Several of us stuck around Tuesday night, delaying our departure to sit in on the presentations. Akin to many Boston region tech-oriented meetups, the Boulder event gave several startups the opportunity to present their creations to the packed house. Bonuses included some pre-event networking and a jack rabbit fast round of job opening announcements. (“Hi, my name is John, I work for a stealthy startup and we need someone who knows Java.”)
Startup America is designed to support entrepreneurship across the country and offers great partner benefits to any startup that registers on the Startup America site. These benefits include everything from free software to major discounts on products and services all businesses need. An analysis of the current list of 7500+ registered startups revealed that Massachusetts is behind the 8 ball, ranking only at number 7 on a per-capita basis. Rhode Island is number 1 with 79 startups per million people. Guess we haven’t been getting out the word as well as we should have. (Have a startup? Go sign up now.)
The Summit was well run and organized – with ample time to get to know the other regional champions, but the highlight of the event was the plentiful Show and Tell. Over the course of the conference, a major portion of time was spent listening to what other champions are doing and sharing experiences. Here’s just a small taste of a few of the things we heard:
In Michigan, they pair up “Hackers” (techs) and “Hustlers” (business people).
Iowa runs a state-wide startup tradeshow.
In Connecticut, the Startup CT team ran a Crowd Funding round table with 35 participants and their Congressman at the Stamford Innovation Center.
DeveloperTown in Indiana houses developers and entrepreneurs together and when they get together, they move in together, literally. Garden sheds on wheels in a warehouse-like setting offer startups a private area of their very own while keeping them grouped together.
A new term for a fast-growing startup – cheetah
American Airlines spotlights a startup every other issue of their in-flight magazine.
In Colorado, they are “exporting the magic” of the Boulder tech Community to Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs by expanding New Tech Meetups, the Open Coffee Clubs, Community Office hours to these cities. They are also creating an entrepreneurial summer camp in Boulder for talented college students from throughout the state. The students are housed in Boulder and work as paid interns for Boulder startups.
The Entrepreneur Center in Tennessee has a pilot program launching in metro Nashville schools but it can’t come soon enough for one young entrepreneur who reached out to the Center through his Mom’s email account. He’s 10, too young to have his own email, but is a great example of visibility the EC team is driving. They are placing (or have placed) an accelerator in each of nine regions across the state.
These are just a few of the different programs we heard about. So, what are we doing to drive this kind of entrepreneurial passion locally?
Opinions and statements expressed by guest bloggers are theirs alone, not opinions of The Startup America Partnership.