Last week I had the opportunity to listen to a Q&A session at the TechArb with the current TechArb companies & the Foundry Group Partners Jason Mendelson & Brad Feld. Not surprisingly, a question about community came up and I thought their responses were particularly useful for Ann Arbor / Michigan to hear out.
1. The entrepreneurial community needs to be started by entrepreneurs. Seems pretty obvious, but honestly isn’t always the case.
2. It is not one driving force. There is not a single entrepreneurial community leader. There is many. By only respecting & acknowledging a leader you are disrespecting all the others who help the entrepreneurial community. In my opinion, the hand/team analogy especially illustrates this point…Make a fist & then stick one finger out (choose wisely 😉 It’s easier to crush your quasi-fist this way than if you just keep a fist. A fist represents a team. The lone finger is an individual. Team is stronger. Acknowledge & respect the team of people involved in your community.
3. Have a 20 year outlook. It takes time to build a community, so think long term.
4. Really great members do not expect anything in return. They mentioned this in relation to TechStars. Their mentors are not compensated and a lot of them have no interest in investing in the companies they are mentoring. Sometimes mentors may change their mind about their interest in investing, but if they come in only to mentor because they want to invest, the program isn’t as strong.
Take note Ann Arbor. Take note.
MEL aka Venture Gal