Building World-Class Startup Ecosystems by Focusing on Needs

As the managing partner at Beta Boom, a high-touch seed fund that focuses on emerging tech hubs, I have had the great fortune to speak to scores of entrepreneurs, tech workers, investors, and civic leaders in over a dozen emerging startup ecosystems in the United States as well as in regions such as Indonesia, Uruguay, and Nigeria. Through these conversations and numerous visits, I noticed that some ecosystems that seem replete with resources fail to meet the needs of local startups while others with smaller communities and fewer programs have thriving, successful tech scenes.

After giving this phenomenon considerable thought, I realized that resources don’t directly translate to meeting startups’ needs much in the same way that cramming features into a product doesn’t necessarily make it more useful. Instead of engaging in a race to create more resources, I believe that more effective startup ecosystems can be built by focusing instead on the needs that startups have. Only after truly understanding startups’ needs, should we consider what resources can best meet those needs. We can think of this as need-centered ecosystem design.Read More


The Leaky Bucket and the Tech Pipeline Issue

The leaky tech pipeline issue has been well documented and largely acknowledged by the industry. As various companies struggle with how to attract more women and minorities in their hiring process and how to train their personnel in “tolerance” (please don’t call it this!), I’d propose that we examine this problem through the lens of growth hacking as I think there is much to be learned from this approach. In essence, the problem that growth hackers are trying to solve is identical: how do you attract and keep people using your product? The question that executives at tech companies ask is similar: how do you attract and maintain a diverse workforce?

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Virtually Walkthrough and Instantly Book Event Spaces with Venulist

If you have ever tried to book a venue for a larger event such as a birthday party or a corporate event, you probably spent days calling venues, emailing, and pursuing dead ends. Venulist is making it possible to book event spaces in a matter of minutes with 3D tours and instant AirBnB-like booking! Venulist is a truly transformative innovation in the $200B venue industry.

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Fiveable Is Enabling College Success for All High School Students

When students take and pass AP courses, they can save as much as $19,000 in college tuition and other costs. Unfortunately, many students lack both access to AP courses as well as support outside of the classroom, which can greatly improve students’ course completion and test outcomes. Amanda DoAmaral, the founder of Fiveable, has intimate knowledge of this reality having taught AP History in Oakland, California as well as from her experience with Teach for America. While this gap is greatest in school districts with fewer resources, this is a wide scale problem across the United States.

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New accelerator seeks to bridge the capital gap

Beta Boom inaugural accelerator launches in Salt Lake City this summer

Startups in markets outside of the pre-eminent technology and capital hubs often have little trouble finding early-stage support from local institutions and tech community builders. However, in dozens of conversations with civic stakeholders, investors, and founders in emerging technology regions such as Salt Lake City and Nashville, we have discovered a gap: many of these startups lack sufficient access to early capital to get them beyond the seed stage — capital which still tends to be centered in hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, and London. In addition, there are fewer mentors with specific domain knowledge and global experience in these smaller markets. This lack of access to early-stage capital and suitable mentorship makes it difficult for native startups to succeed.

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