What are the foundations of a great national entrepreneurial community?
After the Startup Weekend NZ National Hui in 2015, I drafted a plan based on feedback from the hui’s unconference. It included:
Vision: Every New Zealander has the ability, tools, and networks to become an entrepreneur
Mission: To provide access to the community, experiences, and support that emerging entrepreneurs need to succeed, working directly with entrepreneurs as well as with other organisations.
- Community leadership: Our members – our key resource – are Community Leaders. We believe that a successful startup ecosystem depends on supporting and bringing out the best in those willing to contribute. As leaders in our field, we set an example by the way we work with others, and help others become leaders. We’re confident in who we are, and willing to help, support, and encourage those whose values are aligned with ours. We put the mission before our own glory.
- Reciprocity: Once we’ve committed, we’re in – our partners can count on us, and vice versa. We are transparent and honest with each other, partners and constituents, and expect the same from them.
- Responsive, mindful, and enabling: We are responsive to community needs, and enable others to move purposefully and quickly. We use lightweight and flexible infrastructure to achieve this.
- Lasting value: We’re in this for the long-term future of New Zealand and its entrepreneurs. We measure the impact of our outcomes, seeking constant improvement in the things that matter.
I suggested that we could achieve our mission and vision by:
- Providing experiential education for entrepreneurs, including Startup Weekends, and shorter form workshops
- Building and developing entrepreneurial communities, bringing people of all stripes together, and being a catalyst for serious shifts in the landscape, especially outside the main centres
- Connecting entrepreneurial communities locally, nationally, and globally, forging better ties across geographic boundaries, sharing our resources, time, and experience for the betterment of all
- Working on improving startup policies to nurture an environment in which startups can thrive
- Celebrating entrepreneurship through programmes like Global Entrepreneurship Week
And to make it all happen, I suggested that we could engage in partnerships with:
- Entrepreneurs and their startups
- Local and central government
- Universities and other tertiaries
- Accelerators, incubators, and coworking spaces
- Other allied organisations, such as Youth Enterprise Trust, the Innovation Council, NZTech, the Angel Association of New Zealand, and more.
I believe that the governance of an organisation executing this plan should be transparent, diverse, egalitarian, and democratic, and that financially it should be organised as a not for profit, ideally with charitable status.
The plan languished for a year, and was never adopted – it was a bridge or three too far for the other directors. Even though the plan has stalled, I’m still very keen to make it, or something similar based on the same values, happen.
Others have expressed very similar ideas, including Dan Khan, Pascale Hyboud-Peron, Lenz Gschwendtner, Peter Thomson, Jane Treadwell-Hoye, Sarah Day, Colart Miles, and Ants Cabraal. Although our expression is slightly different, there is a large degree of congruence and alignment.
I look forward to working with similarly minded people and building that entrepreneurial community we want to live in, so that we can move New Zealand to the next stage.
Are you in?
Join the discussion in the comments below, or on Twitter hashtag #startupcommunityvalues