Book Review: Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City

I just finished reading Startup Communities: Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld.  This book codifies the steps aspiring leaders need to take to create a startup friendly community anywhere. Several years ago when I was living in Northern California, I was engaged in a debate with a startup veteran on why Silicon Valley was what it was—a place where new transformational technologies would be invented every few years and create billion dollar industries overnight.  There are a few old reasons: – The defense industry had left a legacy of technology companies and these companies form the foundation of innovation
– The amount of venture capital money in the area is the glue and magnet that keeps drawing entrepreneurs to the area
– Stanford and UC Berkeley are very good engineering schools and they continue to feed the area with smart and technical founders

What my opponent argued, and convinced me, is that it’s not really about one of these things but rather the ecosystem where various firms were the organisms that had give and take relationships with the environment around them. A corollary to this was that Silicon Valley was extremely unique and it would be very difficult to replicate the model elsewhere.  I still believe this but that doesn’t put me at odds with Startup Communities. Brad Feld’s point in Startup Communities is that instead of trying to replicate Silicon Valley, the better approach is to support the growth of a community that takes advantages of the strengths and resources of the locale. Startup Communities is the manual for aspiring startup community leaders.  It dives into the who, how, and why of building an ecosystem.  What makes this book so good is that Brad’s experience really shines when describing certain personalities you might meet, classical pitfalls, and the best attributes for leading the growth of a community. Every town or city can sprout a startup community that’s unique to that particular locale.  This book is definitely worth checking out if you are passionate about startups and want to create a local ecosystem to support it. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

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