Thursday, 21st July 2011
Startup companies and entrepreneurs come about in many different ways. This week a new non profit initiative, Venture for America was launched in the US. Also this week I attended a workshop for an upcoming “Startup Weekend” to be held here in Tucson, Arizona. I was struck by the difference in approaches to how people who are entrepreneurial in nature can connect and collaborate to create their future.
Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event where “developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts” meet to collaborate, to share ideas, form teams and brainstorm products. In some cases companies are actually launched!
The concept was formed in 2007 in Colorado where the first weekend drew 78 people. By the end of 2010, Startup Weekend had over 25,000 alumni worldwide and had grown to be active in 30 countries with events having been held in over 100 cities. The map of upcoming Startup Weekends is impressive. It appears that some regional areas are more likely to spawn technology companies and others retail or more traditional businesses. Different cities have different characters and different needs. So far the events have created over 2,450 Startup companies worldwide.
Organisers say they are focusing on “building a community-empowered model to help train and foster community leaders, ignite more entrepreneurial activity and map and connect the world’s startup ecosystems”. A lofty goal.
The Venture for America non profit, on the other hand, will take a bit longer than a weekend! It will bring together top level college/university graduates to work in startups in underserved communities for a period of at least two years. The organisation will offer 50 positions at a variety of companies. Their goal is to grow both in number and regionally in just a few years.
Young entrepreneurial graduates will learn how to build a business while earning a small but reasonable salary from a host company. The “fellows”, as they will be known, get exposure and experience in real world situations they would not normally have access to – the world of a startup! Applicants must be innovative, bright, high performers who have studied economics, business or finance. US News calls it a “Job Opportunity for Entrepreneurial New Grads”.
It appears the long-term goals are similar for these ventures: Create opportunities where those with entrepreneurial adventure in their blood can connect with the people they need to connect to.
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