The Philadelphia Startup Leaders Manifesto is a great example of why federated entrepreneurship is a good model for a startup ecosystem. I have reproduced it here with some observations on our startup stages model, the Bootstrapper Breakfasts®, and Silicon Valley.
Because startup entrepreneurs need each other.
Starting a company can be a long and lonely journey.
Each milestone is a small miracle—from idea to prototype, from first employee to first customer, from first revenues to first profits and eventually to a thriving, successful business. Most startups fail along the way.
These are memorable milestones–in particular first customer–our startup stages model has key turning points:
- In the Idea and Formation stage you are searching for a customer need, a problem solution fit, and a team. You know you are done when you have a problem that energizes a team that is mutually accountable and jointly capable.
- In the Open for Business stage you are searching for a business model and proof of value. This allows you to formalize the team commitment and make firm offers at a price.
- In the Early Customer stage you are searching for proven value, and the proof is that customers actually pay you, not just tell you that they will pay, they actually pay. That’s only possible once you are set up and are able to transact business.
- In the Finding Your Niche stage you now have a target customer type that you are going to select from customers that you have already done business with who reference each other’s buy decisions. You need to learn the domain language of that specific customer set and learn how to find similar customers.
- In the Scaling Up stage you are now looking for product scale. This requires that you have a repeatable scalable process, that you can identify additional niche markets , and identify additional opportunities. What was heroic has to become routine. Now you are adding employees who are specialists.
To survive this journey, startup entrepreneurs need many things.
They need access to funding and talent. They need support from their government and their community. They need opportunities to educate themselves and their team.
But more than anything else, startup entrepreneurs need each other.
No one can truly understand the life of an entrepreneur but another entrepreneur—no matter how much time they might spend investing, teaching, consulting, servicing, or legislating in the world of startups.
Philly Startup Leaders is a community of startup entrepreneurs dedicated to helping each other on their entrepreneurial journeys.
I think that entrepreneurs who are residents of SiliconValley “are to a large extent strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail.” Silicon Valley is actually a very small place: whether you find yourself here as a visitor or a new settler you should open yourself to serendipity. Stop by a Bootstrapper Breakfast if you find yourself at loose ends early some morning.
We provide the kind of emotional and practical support that can only come from a fellow entrepreneur. Emotionally, we share wisdom, inspiration, and friendship. Practically, we share advice, connections, and resources. We mentor each other and coach new entrepreneurs who are making the transition.
We often collaborate and connect with the larger ecosystem—with people and organizations who are not themselves entrepreneurial.
But what makes us so different and so effective is our focus on connecting entrepreneurs with each other.
We thrive because we understand that, above all else, startup entrepreneurs need each other.
Related Blog Posts
- Federated Entrepreneurship: Play Your Own Game
- Federated Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Education includes this description by Justin Bacon of his goals for the Minnesota Lean Startup Group from a comment on the LinkedIn Group
What we all hope to learn, the encouragement and advice that we give and/or receive, the lessons learned that we share and the relationships that we build, are as much about building this kind of community here locally as it is about helping us foster our own bootstrapped tech-startups.
- “Continuing Education in Entrepreneurship” suggests networking offers “knowledge that isn’t written down” (and not to be found in Mr. Google’s basement):
“I had this epiphany that I had spent the last dozen years or so, since I started attending Software Entrepreneur Forum (now SVForum) and Churchill Club meetings, in this ad hoc program in continuing entrepreneurial education. Books are valuable, and not enough entrepreneurs do enough reading, but there is also a category of knowledge that hasn’t been written down yet. And you can gain wisdom from listening to someone who has played the game–even if it’s just their mistakes–that you would otherwise have to gain from your mistakes experience.”
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