This is a topic that has been under discussion for several decades, at least in reference to duplicating Silicon Valley’s success. Paul Graham, of YCombinator fame, has offered his thoughts on How to be Silicon Valley, Why Start-up Hubs Work, and Can You Buy Silicon Valley? Maybe.
He boils it down to people, two specific types: rich people and nerds; specifically, rich people that have experience in technology allowing them to provide advice and connections. Nerds, in this case, are smart people that like to build things and solve problems. In order to attract this kind of combination requires a nice place to live with personality where everyone walks around smiling.
Brad Feld, over in Boulder, also proposed a few key principles regarding how to build entrepreneurial communities such as entrepreneur-led communities with a 20-year timeline and entrepreneurial density. He also is writing, with David Cohen, a book on entrepreneurial communities. Here is the expected table of contents or you can reference a related blog post on building a sustainable entrepreneurial community or you can follow his blog that is highlighting emerging start-up community efforts across the world.
They both point to a set social norms that allow the impossible to be possible and a help to be offered without expectation of immediate return. A pay-it-forward mentality, if you will. Academic research calls this a knowledge spillover but also includes large employers and universities in the prescription for the start-up scene’s success. This encouraging and empowering community is something I had the chance to be a part of with organizations like Launch Up and The Foundry (In Utah, not Mr. Feld’s VC firm). I’m trying to figure out how to get something like that going here in my current place of residence in Oklahoma. There are efforts to do many of the activities that are found in places like Boulder and Silicon Valley but they seem isolated from each other. This is especially true of the more rural parts of the state.
I plan to continue to learn and document here what I experience as I try to build off the work of others and try to find and support a group of half dozen or so entrepreneurs that plan to be here for the next 20 years and want to build an entrepreneurial community. Just to make sure it isn’t all words and no action I’ve launched a very simple website that will hopefully evolve as I figure out what problem my customer wants me to solve. Feel free to check in on my progress at startupsooner.com.