Connect with us

Entrepreneur Today

Entrepreneurs Take Lead in Building Vibrant Startup Communities

In his book, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, author Brad Feld details what it takes to build a community of entrepreneurs in any city.

Brad Feld

Published

on

053

In this edited excerpt, Feld focuses on entrepreneurs’ role in fostering and growing a thriving, long-lived community.

The most critical principle of a start-up community is that entrepreneurs must lead it. Lots of different people are involved in the start-up community and many non-entrepreneurs play key roles. Unless the entrepreneurs lead, the start-up community won’t be sustainable.

In virtually every major city, there are long lists of different types of people and organisations who are involved in the start-up community including government, universities, investors, mentors, and service providers. Historically, many try to play a leadership role in the development of their local start-up community. Although their involvement is important, they can’t be the leaders. The entrepreneurs have to be leaders.

I define an entrepreneur as someone who has co-founded a company. I differentiate between “high-growth entrepreneurial companies” and “small businesses.” Both are important, but they are different.

Entrepreneurial companies have the potential to be or are high-growth businesses, whereas small businesses tend to be local, profitable, but slow-growth organisations. Small-business people are often “pillars of their community” as their businesses have a tight co-dependency with their community.

By contrast, founders of high-growth entrepreneurial companies generally are involved in the local community as employers and indirect contributors to small businesses and the local economy, but they rarely are involved in the broad business community because they are extraordinarily focused on their companies.

Because of this intense focus, it’s unrealistic to think that all entrepreneurs in a community will be leaders. All that is needed is a critical mass of entrepreneurs, often less than a dozen, who will provide leadership.

These leaders have to make a long-term commitment to their start-up community. I like to say this has to be at least 20 years from today to reinforce the sense that this has to be meaningful in length.

It’s well understood that economies run in cycles. Some of these cycles are modest. Some are severe. The lengths vary dramatically.

Start-up communities have to take a very long-term view. A great start-up community such as Silicon Valley (1950 to today) has a long trajectory. Although they have their booms and busts, they continued to grow, develop and expand throughout this period.

Most cities and their leaders get excited about entrepreneurship after a major economic decline. They focus on it for a few years through a peak.

When the subsequent decline ultimately happens, they focus on other things. When things bottom out, most of the progress gained during the upswing is lost. I’ve seen this several times – first in the early 1990s and again around the Internet bubble.

This is why the leaders have to first be entrepreneurs and then have a long-term view. These leaders must be committed to the continuous development of their start-up community, regardless of the economic cycle of their city, state or country.

Great entrepreneurial companies, such as Apple, Genentech, Microsoft and Intel, were started during down economic cycles. It takes such a long time to create something powerful that you’ll go through several economic cycles on the path to glory.

If you aspire to be a leader of your start-up community, but you aren’t willing to live where you are and work hard at leading the start-up community for the next 20 years, ask yourself what your real motivation for being a leader is. Although you can have impact for a shorter period of time, it’ll take at least this level of commitment from some leaders to sustain a vibrant start-up community.

A start-up community must be extremely inclusive. Anyone who wants to engage should be able to, whether they are changing careers, moving to your city, graduating from college, or just want to do something different. This applies to entrepreneurs, people who want to work for start-ups, people who want to work with start-ups, or people who are simply intellectually interested in start-ups.

This philosophy applies at all levels of the start-up community. The leaders have to be open to having more leaders involved, recognising that leaders need to be entrepreneurs who have a long-term view of building their start-up community.

Entrepreneurs in the community need to welcome other entrepreneurs, viewing the growth of the start-up community as a positive force for all. Building a start-up community is not a zero-sum game in which there are winners and losers; if everyone engages, they and the entire community can all be winners.

Start-up communities must have regular activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack. This includes first-time entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, employees of start-ups, service providers to start-ups, and anyone else who wants to be involved.

The emergence of hack-a-thons, new tech meet-ups, open coffee clubs, start-up weekends, and accelerators like TechStars provide a tangible, focused, set of activities for the members of the start-up community to engage in. By being inclusive of the start-up community, these activities consistently engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

Brad Feld is a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Entrepreneur Today

(Infographic) Chevron South Africa Says Its B-BBEE Transformation Is A Driver Of Job Creation

Creating new Black entrants for 50% of its retail network; and channeling approximately 50% of its crude procurement through Black and Black Female-owned oil trading companies are just two great examples of how an integrated oil company can support South Africa’s socio-economic transformation objectives.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

chevron-south-africa
  • 82% of the workforce are Black South Africans with 65% of top and senior management comprising of Black employees
  • Procurement, a major driver of B-BBEE strategy, aimed at creating entrepreneurs
  • Majority Black-owned Branded Marketers own 50% of Chevron’s Retail Network
  • R100 million provided towards Enterprise and Supplier Development.

Chevron South Africa’s executive chairman, Shashi Rabbipal, is strongly in favour of transformation in the oil and gas sector as a driver of job creation and value for the company and its various stakeholders.

According to Rabbipal, the company views transformation as a key value enabler for business, achieving a newly minted Level 2 against the revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Codes of Good Practice.

Rabbipal outlined that the company has harnessed its procurement capacity and its Branded Marketer network to create an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive in the energy sector.

The company said that creating new Black entrants for 50% of its retail network and channeling approximately 50% of its crude procurement through Black and Black Female-owned oil trading companies are two great examples of how an integrated oil company can support South Africa’s socio-economic transformation objectives.

Chevron South Africa’s Level 2 achievement is most impressive, given that it is based on the company’s full value chain which includes its Cape Town refinery and its national network of Caltex retail service stations.

Related: What Is BBBEE?

Transformation embedded in business strategy

“Our commitment to Transformation goes beyond compliance as we continue to seek opportunities which drive job creation and economic prosperity, cultivate mutually beneficial business relationships and demonstrate good business practice,” said Rabbipal.

The following examples illustrate actions Chevron South Africa has taken to deliver on the country’s Transformation objectives:

  • 82% of the workforce is Black, with 27% Black Female.
  • 90% of the Board Directors are Black South Africans, with 30% Black Females.
  • A flagship programme building capacity for Black unemployed youth living with disabilities has been implemented, with an intake of 66 learners to date.
  • 90% of procurement is with Black suppliers.
  • Approximately 50% of procured crude oil and petroleum products is through Black-empowered trading companies, of which roughly 35% are Black women-owned.
  • An Enterprise and Supplier Development programme has provided over R100 million in interest-free loans, credit lines and deferred marketing loans to designated B-BBEE beneficiaries within the procurement pipeline.
  • 50% of the retail network is owned by Black entrepreneurs through the Caltex Branded Marketer Programme, with average Black ownership of 73%.
  • Social investment partnerships impacting 50,000 direct beneficiaries each year in the areas of health, STEM education and economic development.

“We conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, leveraging our ability to benefit the communities where we work. As such, Transformation is more than a scorecard to us and is deeply embedded in our business strategy,” Rabbipal concludes.

1767-fti-chevron-infographic-8

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur Today

Blu Blood’s Fearless Leader Ranked Among 2018 Standard Bank Top Women Award Finalists

Having pioneered leading lifestyle and event management company, Blu Blood, in 2008, Shaaista Khan Osman celebrates the company’s 10 years in business with two excellence nominations in the upcoming 2018 Standard Bank Top Women Awards taking place on Thursday, 23 August at Emperors Palace.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

shaaista-khan-osman

Cemented as South Africa’s leading and pre-eminent initiative to honour the achievements and advocate the advancement of gender empowerment, the Standard Bank TOP WOMEN awards celebrates their 15 year anniversary gathering South Africa’s most accomplished businesswomen and organisations accelerating gender transformation in the workplace.

Shaaista Khan Osman’s commitment and successes for Blu Blood and the soon-to-be-launched World Women’s Network has earned her the recognition as a frontrunner of gender empowerment in two categories: TOP BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR and TOP GENDER EMPOWERED COMPANY IN INNOVATION THROUGH TECHNOLOGY.

Commenting on the achievement of reaching Finalist status, Shaaista comments:

“I was truly taken aback when I received the news of the nominations. I am humbled because it is our strong and dedicated business family unit that has contributed to my successes and of which I am in awe.  I am honoured to take on this great responsibility of being a voice in the progression of women in business alongside other likeminded and courageous women.”

Starting out with a humble upbringing as the youngest of six children, Shaaista’s story is a true testament of hard work, dedication and sincerity.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

Blu Blood has grown into one of South Africa’s leading event, artist & communication management companies, which Shaaista runs with her business partner & husband, Osman Osman.  Blu Blood is synonymous with hosting the biggest Bollywood productions in South Africa and Africa; producers of one of the most successful comedy brands, Kings & Queens of Comedy; collaborations with local and international comedians including Tumi Morake, Riaad Moosa, Orlando Jones and Russell Peter; as well as producing theatre and children’s stage productions.

But Shaaista’s biggest and most challenging project to date is the World Women’s Network.  Powered by Blu Blood, WWN is a membership based, online global initiative for women’s  economic and social empowerment with the premise of the organization being to give all women the opportunity and tools to achieve their goals, through pivotal joint ventures and strategic partnerships to build sustainable projects for the development and vision of women.   One of the key principles of WWN is the hope to uplift individuals and communicates through education and mentorship by offering free schooling, selected higher education courses and life skills courses and mentorship to members of WWN.

Director of Standard Bank TOP WOMEN, Karla Fletcher:

“We are devoted to providing the ultimate platform to address the challenges facing women-driven economic growth. Together with the CGE, our panel of judges and all those who have participated in the Standard Bank TOP WOMEN Awards in the past 15 years, we represent a community that actively responds to the pertinent questions surrounding the barriers to success for women entrepreneurs. We are excited about the work and calibre of this year’s finalists, and their significant impact offers South Africa optimism for the future.”

Shaaista proclaims that it is up to the individual to “seize every opportunity, own each day and sculpt your own brilliance”.  For more information, visit www.shaaistakhan.com.

top-women-awards-south-africa

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur Today

Entrepreneurs! Now Is The Time To Change Lives And Grow Revenues

All signs point to Africa as the most extraordinary place to be and do business in the future.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

musa-kalenga

So, how are we going to do business?

This is the question posed by Musa Kalenga, the enthusiastic entrepreneur and strategist who was named one of the Top 200 young South Africans by Mail & Guardian, at a recent Entrepreneurship To The Point Session hosted by Property Point, the Growthpoint Properties initiative.

The answer to doing business that he offers entrepreneurs, even in this digital age, is humanity.

“Humanity is the new black; it is how we are going to be the next powerhouse of this globe,” says Kalenga. “Being human is the one thing that will enable us to survive in the age of augmentation.”

Kalenga is obsessed with using technology to empower the digitally invisible. “We can send people to the moon but we can’t feed people on earth? This is a problem,” he cautions, “because unless we’re making fundamental business model changes, we won’t have a market for the future.”

He took the Entrepreneurship To The Point audience on a journey, highlighting the sweet spot where technology and creativity merge.

Looking at how African entrepreneurs should respond to the age of augmentation, he uses the shocking November 2015 Paris attacks as an example. Facebook activated its Safety Check function, Uber alerted its drivers to take people to safety, and Airbnb operators took in anyone in need.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

“While these are tech businesses at their core, they displayed decidedly human responses. They also didn’t have to redo their business model to respond in a more human way,” points out Kalenga. “The technology journey that communities and consumers have to go through must match ours as brand creators, value seekers and entrepreneurs.”

Doing this is simpler than you may think. Technology’s intersection with humanity is all about finding simple, meaningful solutions.

He points to the trend of impact investment – an approach taken by some of the world’s richest family businesses. Impact investment means finding opportunities that are solving human-centred problems and creating value for the humans that we seek to serve, and then figuring out how to make revenue as a business. Essentially, it puts doing good before making money. This is where humanity, technology and entrepreneurship are on course to meet and power the extraordinary future of business in Africa.

“Human beings are at the top of the food chain because we can understand a small and simple thing, then develop it for different purposes all the time. Also, because we can rally around common cause and purpose. Enhancing quality of life in the way people experience technology is key to continuing to solve problems, not only in Africa but across the globe,” concludes Kalenga

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending