The Startup Community Way: A book review by Bob Morris

The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial System
Brad Feld and Ian Hathaway
John Wiley & Sons (July 2020)

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda

Brad Feld coauthored this book with Ian Hathaway, published on the same day as was the Second Edition of Feld’s classic, Startup Communities. Although they share some common material, both can be read separately or simultaneously, as was my preference. Together, they offer just about everything those associated with a startup need to know.

I agree with Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup: “We need entrepreneurs and their ideas to keep our society moving forward, just economically but equitably. The nurturing of startups, which is amplified by multitudes when they share in a community if organizations and people, is the best way to make sure we achieve that goal.”

Feld and Hathaway wrote The Startup Community Way based on one of Feld’s concepts he calls “the Boulder Thesis.” It consists of a set of four principles he developed while establishing a startup community in Colorado:

1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.
2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment [i.e. in a series of twenty-year segments].
3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to partyicipate in it.
4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

There are certain myths to be aware of. They include these three: Be like Silicon Valley, Obtain more local capital, and Organize angel investors. All three are summarily invalidated. See pages 191-198.

These are among the passages of great interest and value to me:

o Entrepreneurs/Startup communities (Pages 23-40)
o Route 128 Corridor startup community (28-29)
o Actors in startup communities (41-57)
o Factors in startup communities (59-74)
o Systems (95-113)

o Establishing a dynamic system (121-125)
o Portland Incubator (127-132)
o Scott Dorsey/Indianapolis startup community (143-150)
o Illusion of control (151-164)
o Student-driven entrepreneurship (161-164)

o Seattle startup community (176-181)
o The Measurement Trap (183-206 and 288-289)
o Rhett Morris (203-206)
o Boulder Thesis (210-212)
o Leadership Is Key (231-242)

o How to Be an Effective Mentor (234-235)
o Inclusive community programs (255-266)
o Cognitive diversity (257-258 and 290-291)
o Community programs (275-279)
o Summary of the Book (285-291)

As indicated, I think that Startup Communities (Second Edition) and The Startup Community Way should be read in combination but that is preferable, not imperative. The material in both can be of incalculable value to those now in the process of planning to establishing a startup community or have only recently done so. I urge those in both groups to carefully review the information, insights, and counsel provided.

I also want to add another key point: Much (not all) of the material in the two books can be of substantial benefit — with only minor modification — to those launching a new business venture within a large, well-established organization. In fact, whatever their size and nature may be, ALL organizations need to establish a workplace culture that is in every possible and appropriate way an entrepreneurial ecosystem.


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