A Week of Startup Excitement

This past Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend two great sessions with leaders in the startup world: Brad Feld of TechStars/Foundry Group (and now Startup America) and Bill Trenchard of Founder Collective & Readyforce (big thanks to Zach Shulman @Cornell for putting these together).   It’s fantastic to see people like Brad and Bill taking the time to engage with entrepreneurial communities that are more off the beaten path (ahem, Ithaca) than the more traditional hotbeds of innovation.  More proof that these guys really do practice what they preach and have a vested interest in seeing more and more startups succeed. 

A few points from Brad’s talk at Cornell:

  1. Mentorship is incredibly important to creating a striving entrepreneurial community.  Get out there and talk to as many people as you can  (VCs, CEOs, whoever you can get your hands on)!
  2. Encouraging first time entrepreneurship is just as vital as encouraging veterans to continue starting businesses. Brad shared an anecdote about his first experience as an entrepreneur and how he evaluated the risk of failure: “Could I eat? Yes. Okay, keep going."  This is one I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, especially in the context of the traditionally risk-averse MBA curriculum.  How do we get more top performing MBAs to forgo consulting and banking jobs and join or start startups?
  3. There’s a certain cognitive dissonance in “trying" to be an entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurs do or do not (thanks, Yoda!).
  4. The people are the most important and valuable part of the process.

The last point is one that I think really captures what I love about the startup ecosystem.  In the past few months, I’ve been to the Bay Area, Boston, and New York.  No matter where I am, I’m struck by the willingness of startup CEOs, VCs, and others to share their passion for startups and talk about what gets them up in the morning.  Being involved in this kind of community is incredibly infectious and I can’t help but look forward to getting even more immersed in things this summer and after graduation.