A startup event in Belgium. Credit: Startup Weekend Leuven / Flickr Creative Commons
It seems like every city wants to be a mecca for startups -- An "innovation hub," if you will.
But Brad Feld, managing director at the Foundry Group and a co-founder of Techstars, says there’s more to creating a startup city than throwing money at neighborhoods and declaring yourself a startup capital.
After all, Silicon Valley wasn’t built in a day. It wasn’t even built in a couple decades. Feld says the groundwork for Silicon Valley’s tech dominance was laid over 100 years ago. Now, not every city can replicate that, but according to Feld, cities can still become fertile ground for successful new companies. He says there are just four principles cities need to heed:
1. The leaders of the community have to be entrepreneurs.
2. Those entrepreneurs have to take a very long-term view -- at least 20 years.
3. They have to be inclusive of anyone who wants to engage in the startup community at any level.
4. There need to be activities and events happening all the time that actually engage people in entrepreneurship -- not just talking about it.
Feld uses his adopted hometown, Boulder, as an example. Though it’s characterized as a chill town to home brew beer and ride your mountain-bike in, it actually contains a surprising amount of startups. The entrepreneurial scene there has blossomed, exemplifying Feld's four principles. And the quality of life there – filled with fresh mountain air - meshes well with Feld’s worldview:
“As humans, we should pick where we want to live and then build our life around it, rather than run to places that we feel like we need to be because that’s where the specific opportunity is.”