The importance of depth in a tech startup ecosystem

Kauffman Foundation, SURGE, Blink, Global Entrepreneurship Network (Startup Genome), among others all offer individual rankings for the entrepreneurial ecosystems across various regions. Each includes a measure of the density of either high-growth companies or mature ones. The fact is both are important indicators that can also influence another metric — the quality and strength of the workforce.

Given that workers currently spend a median of 4.6 years at a given job (and for ages 25-34 only 3.2 years), in deciding to relocate for a specific opportunity, people often look at what their next jobs may may be within that market. A tipping point occurs for many growing ecosystems such as Chicago and Austin such that there are so many opportunities that attracting talent becomes easier and the population growth accelerates. These opportunities need not only be within startups but often include more mature businesses as well. The transference of work talent spills over in both directions and they catalyze each other.

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What kind of startup are you and why it matters

As a founder, you doubtless have come across frameworks such as Lean Startup that promise to help you succeed on your startup journey. Unfortunately, many innovators and entrepreneurs find that such frameworks and advice fall short of their promise. Why? It’s very simple: there is a tremendous amount of variation among innovations and the startup companies that are built around. Those simple, elegant frameworks work in many cases and flop in others because they fail to account for important differences that make each startup unique.

I’m not saying that classic books such as Lean Startup and Four Steps to the Epiphany are hogwash, but founders would be well served to consider why such generalized advice might not work for their enterprise and how to accomplish their goals given their unique challenges and constraints. Below, I will go over my classification of innovations and will touch on important qualities that drive growth and development strategies for each.

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Founders building partnerships

Being an early founder means having to set vision, inspire, delegate, sell constantly, build trust, and play many, many, many roles in between. One role that is latent but extremely important is that of choosing partners. It is an important role that can make or break companies.

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