The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem


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The Way Forward for Entrepreneurship Around the World

We are in the midst of a startup revolution. The growth and proliferation of innovation-driven startup activity is profound, unprecedented, and global in scope. Today, it is understood that communities of support and knowledge-sharing go along with other resources. The importance of collaboration and a long-term commitment has gained wider acceptance. These principles are adopted in many startup communities throughout the world.

And yet, much more work is needed. Startup activity is highly concentrated in large cities. Governments and other actors such as large corporations and universities are not collaborating with each other nor with entrepreneurs as well as they could. Too often, these actors try to control activity or impose their view from the top-down, rather than supporting an environment that is led from the bottom-up. We continue to see a disconnect between an entrepreneurial mindset and that of many actors who wish to engage with and support entrepreneurship. There are structural reasons for this, but we can overcome many of these obstacles with appropriate focus and sustained practice.

No one tells this story better than Brad Feld and Ian Hathaway. The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem explores what makes startup communities thrive and how to improve collaboration in these rapidly evolving, complex environments.

The Startup Community Way is an explanatory guide for startup communities. Rooted in the theory of complex systems, this book establishes the systemic properties of entrepreneurial ecosystems and explains why their complex nature leads people to make predictable mistakes. As complex systems, value creation occurs in startup communities primarily through the interaction of the "parts" - the people, organizations, resources, and conditions involved - not the parts themselves. This continual process of bottom-up interactions unfolds naturally, producing value in novel and unexpected ways. Through these complex, emergent processes, the whole becomes greater and substantially different than what the parts alone could produce.

Because of this, participants must take a fundamentally different approach than is common in much of our civic and professional lives. Participants must take a whole-system view, rather than simply trying to optimize their individual part. They must prioritize experimentation and learning over planning and execution. Complex systems are uncertain and unpredictable. They cannot be controlled, only guided and influenced. Each startup community is unique. Replication is enticing but impossible. The race to become "The Next Silicon Valley" is futile - even Silicon Valley couldn't recreate itself.

This book:

  • Offers practical advice for entrepreneurs, community builders, government officials, and other stakeholders who want to harness the power of entrepreneurship in their city
  • Describes the core components of startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems, as well as an explanation of the differences between these two related, but distinct concepts
  • Advances a new framework for effective startup community building based on the theory of complex systems and insights from systems thinking
  • Includes contributions from leading entrepreneurial voices
  • Is a must-have resource for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, executives, business and community leaders, economic development authorities, policymakers, university officials, and anyone wishing to understand how startup communities work anywhere in the world

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119613602
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 07/28/2020
Series: Techstars Series
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 418,384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

BRAD FELD has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur for over 30 years. He is currently a partner at Foundry Group and is a co-founder of Techstars. In addition to his investing efforts, Brad runs the Anchor Point Foundation with his wife Amy Batchelor. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship.

IAN HATHAWAY is an analyst, strategist, and writer. He has been an advisor and executive for leaders in technology, media, and finance on a range of innovation, strategy, and policy initiatives. He is a leading thinker and writer in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, cities, and the economy. Ian also advises and invests in startups in the United States and Europe.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Preface xvii

Chapter One Introduction 1

The Next Generation 2

Our Approach 3

A Deeper Motivation 5

The Boulder Thesis 7

Startup Communities are Complex Adaptive Systems 8

Where We Were in 2012 10

Where We are Now in 2020 12

Using Complexity Theory to Explain Startup Communities 14

Evolving the Boulder Thesis to the Startup Community Way 17

Part I Introduction to Startup Communities 21

Chapter Two Why Startup Communities Exist 23

What Entrepreneurs Do 23

The External Environment 25

Networks over Hierarchies 27

Networks of Trust 29

Density and Agglomeration 33

Quality of Place 35

Chapter Three The Actors 41

Leaders, Feeders, and Instigators 42

Actors 45

Chapter Four The Factors 59

The Seven Capitals 60

Factors 62

Chapter Five Startup Communities

versus Entrepreneurial Ecosystems 75

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems 77

Alignment of Actors 78

Different, but Mutually Reinforcing, Purpose 80

Systems within Systems 81

Entrepreneurial Success 84

Community/Ecosystem Fit 85

Part II Startup Communities as Complex Systems 93

Chapter Six Putting the System Back into Ecosystem 95

Introduction to Systems 96

The Whole System 97

Simple, Complicated, and Complex Activities 103

Moving from Activities to Systems 107

Chapter Seven Unpredictable Creativity 115

Emergence 117

Synergies and Nonlinearity 118

Self-Organization 120

Dynamism 121

The Study of Interactions 125

Chapter Eight The Myth of Quantity 133

More of Everything 134

Outliers, Not Averages 136

Entrepreneurial Recycling 138

Leaders as Supernodes 140

Chapter Nine The Illusion of Control 151

Not Controllable 152

Not Fully Knowable 154

Feedbacks and Contagion 156

Getting Unstuck 158

Letting Go 160

Chapter Ten The Absence of a Blueprint 165

Initial Conditions and Basins of Attraction 168

The Narrative Fallacy 170

Building on Strengths and Learning from Failures 172

Cultivating Topophilia 174

Chapter Eleven The Measurement Trap 183

The Fundamental Measurement Problem 184

Actor and Factor Models: A Categorical Approach 186

Standardized Metrics Models: A Comparative Approach 188

Network Models: A Relational Approach 190

Dynamic Models: An Evolutionary Approach 192

Cultural-Social Models: A Behavioral Approach 194

Logic Models: A Causal Approach 195

Agent-Based Models: A Simulation Approach 198

Applying the Different Models 199

Part III From the Boulder Thesis to the Startup Community Way 207

Chapter Twelve Simplifying Complexity 209

The Boulder Thesis 210

The Rainforest 212

Applying Systems Thinking 214

Looking Deeply 216

Leverage Points 219

Chapter Thirteen Leadership is Key 231

Be a Mentor 234

Entrepreneurs as Role Models 235

Key Leadership Characteristics 237

Chapter Fourteen Think in Generations 243

Progress is Uneven and Often Feels Slow 245

The Endless Long-Term Game 247

Chapter Fifteen Diversity is a Feature, Not a Bug 255

Cultivate Diversity 256

Embracing Diversity 259

Think Broadly about Entrepreneurship 260

Chapter Sixteen Be Active, Not Passive 267

Self-Similarity and Replication 268

Don’t Wait or Ask Permission 269

Play a Positive-Sum Game 270

Continuously and Actively Engage 275

Part IV Conclusion 281

Chapter Seventeen Conclusion 283

Reflections 283

Summary of the Book 285

Final Thoughts 291

About the Authors 295

Acknowledgments 297

Notes 301

Index 325

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