In recent years, the word “startup” has become a buzzword. While Silicon Valley still leads the way with high-tech innovation, startup ecosystems are evolving all over the world. And guess what is the main ingredient of a successful startup ecosystem? Undoubtedly, it’s the entrepreneurs that makes up the ecosystem.
Active startup evangelists, mentors and entrepreneurs keen to develop the startup scene are key to the development of any startup ecosystem. It is essential that there are well-established events, platforms and networks in an ecosystem to facilitate exchange of ideas and ultimately, the growth of the startup ecosystem as a whole. This is where you can play an important role, as a startup ambassador.
In this article, we delve into the advantages of taking startup initiatives in your community and the available platforms you can leverage for the same:
How becoming a local startup ecosystem leader helps you
Win some good karma points
Spread the startup love in your community by helping other entrepreneurs and you are sure to win some friends and valuable relationships along the way. This in turn will make it easier for you to launch your own startup, because remember, what goes around, comes around!
Get to know your ecosystem better
Volunteering for, or better yet, organising a startup event gives you an insider’s view of the main players of your startup ecosystem. You get to know the best startups, founders, mentors, accelerators and investors in your ecosystem. This knowledge can be an important asset for your startup.
Build a network
The value of a good network cannot be stressed enough. And good networks are seldom developed over a short period of time. In order to develop a good professional network, where there is mutual exchange of ideas and support, one needs to keep at it constantly. For someone just stepping into the startup world, there is no better way to establish a network than being at the centre of startup activity in your ecosystem. For example, organise meetups for startup founders to meet designers and coders, and these founders will be more willing to help you when you need to hire a cofounder.
Meet industry leaders
As a volunteer or organiser of an event such as the Startup Weekend, you get exclusive opportunities to share ideas and interact with industry leaders invited to the event. As an attendee, you may or may not get these opportunities. If your idea has potential, you may end up getting more than a brief encounter with them.
Get feedback on your idea
Feedback is so critical, and yet most founders do not give it as much importance. As a local startup ecosystem facilitator, you get multiple opportunities to seek feedback from leaders in your industry, developers and designers. As a result of adding value to a number of startups, you may find that people are more willing to give you valuable feedback when you need it.
Chance upon business partnerships and ideas
It’s possible that you don’t already have a business idea. Or are struggling to establish strategic partnerships for your startup. Being a local startup ambassador can help you with both these issues. You never know what new problem you may chance upon at your weekly founder meetups, or which new startup you meet that you can collaborate with. Going out there and actually interacting with founders and developers in your community can spark ideas that you wouldn’t have thought possible sitting behind your computer, reading tech blogs!
Existing Platforms/Events to become a Startup Ambassador
Let’s take a look at some platforms and events that you can be a part of as a local startup ambassador:
- Initiate Tech/Startup Meetups (@Meetup)
Meetup.com has made it incredibly simple for startup enthusiasts, developers, designers to connect with one another. The website is a leading platform for entrepreneurs and this is evident from the number of entrepreneurship meetups organised via the platform. Some of the more prominent ones include Silicon Valley Founders and Startups, Stanford Entrepreneurs, etc. As a Meetup organiser, it is important to define the goal of the meetup clearly in order to attract the right mix of attendees. Check which meetups are already being happening in your community, and if you see the need, then you can always start one on your own! We at StartupBlink have always put a great focus on meetups for a healthy exchange of ideas, and we have a page dedicated to meetups all over the world. If you wish to connect with the Meetup community in your city, you can do it here.
- Join an existing community leader program
Starting your own community can be difficult and takes a lot of time. It makes sense to join an existing running program as an exclusive community leader and enjoy the benefits, resources and branding those programs offer. For instance, StartupBlink invites organizations that lead their local startup ecosystem to join City Partnership program and receive acknowledgment as a local ecosystem leader and visibility in front of 75,000+ entrepreneurs and decision-makers on the StartupBlink Global Startup Map, as well as in our reports and communities. The partnership is exclusive to one organization per city. You can check available cities and apply to the program here.
- Organize/Volunteer at startup events
Volunteering at or better yet, organising a startup event in your local community is a great way to contribute to your your startup ecosystem. Here we list some of the biggest events and organisations that you can organise a local chapter of or volunteer at if there already exists one:
Up Global, recently acquired by TechStars, is one of the leading startup organisations in the world. It organises various events such as Startup Weekend, Startup Next, and puts together the global startup newsletter, Startup Digest. You can become a volunteer at one of Up’s many events and take back a host of valuable lessons as a startup founder. Being associated with a global organisation such as Up, adds credibility to your work as a local startup ambassador.
One of the biggest startup events by Up Global and TechStars, Startup Weekend is a great platform for anyone interested in developing one’s own startup community. Apart from an opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and creators in your local community, you have the added benefit of connecting with organisers from all over the world. Startup Weekend provides you with a number of resources to get started as an organiser, such as Organisers’ Toolkit and a Udemy Training Course.
Web Summit is one of the world’s largest tech conferences attended by changemakers and founders of companies such as Stripe, Uber, DropBox, Vine, etc. The perks of volunteering at such an event are obvious; rub shoulders with the who’s who of the tech world, interact with industry leaders, and also volunteers from all over the world.
TEDx events are locally organised TED events. Attended by industry leaders and professionals, TEDx events have some of the best speakers sharing their innovations. They are a great opportunity to connect with local entrepreneurs. Find a TEDx event in your city and sign up as a volunteer.
Startup Safary is a novel concept that started in Berlin. The event takes entrepreneurs on a guided tour of a city’s startup ecosystem, giving them an insider’s view into the most successful startups of the city. The event is open to entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and even job seekers.
Seedstars World is a startup competition for startups from the emerging tech hubs of the world. It has speakers such as Jens Lapinski, MD at TechStars, and Renaud Visage, CTO of Eventbrite. It is a great event to gauge the development of startups from emerging markets,and meet with investors and founders.
Startup Pirates is an 8-day pre-accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs test their business ideas. You can organise a Startup Pirate week in your city and empower startup founders.
Started with the intention of providing a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and developers to meet in an informal and accessible setting, OpenCoffee Club has quickly turned into a global phenomenon. It’s open-for-all and easy-to-replicate approach is one of its biggest draws. Start an OpenCoffee Club in your locality if you wish to provide a more accessible platform for entrepreneurs and developers to discuss their ideas and get feedback on what they’ve built. OpenCoffee meetings also attract investors and can be a great way to get feedback from them, if you are looking to raise capital, albeit in an informal setting.
We hope this article gives you a good introduction to starting out as a Startup Ambassador in your community. We’d like to point out that while entrepreneurs make the best startup ambassadors, they’re not the only ones who can contribute to building the startup community. Coworking spaces and accelerators in a city are also important members of a startup ecosystem and can contribute equally to its growth. For further reading on building your startup ecosystem, we recommend Startup Communities by Brad Feld (@bfeld), which is an excellent and detailed resource.