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Venture capitalist Brad Feld on how startup communities work

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 1, 2012 10:53 AM

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This short video from the Kauffman Foundation, "StartupVille," is worth a view. It's narrated by Boulder-based venture capitalist Brad Feld -- an MIT alum who started his first company in Cambridge -- and based on Feld's recent book "Startup Communities: Creating a Great Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City." (Feld is also a founder of the accelerator program TechStars.)

In the video, Feld says that there are four pillars to his "Boulder thesis" about how vibrant startup communities are built:

1. Startup communities are led by entrepreneurs
2. Entrepreneurs have to take a long-term view (20+ years)
3. Be inclusive of anyone who's interested in being part of the startup ecosystem
4. Organize activities and events that are substantive (moreso than cocktail parties or award dinners)

I think one crucial element of point #3, and an area where Boston can do much better, is recruiting people from larger companies into the startup ecosystem -- not necessarily as employees, but as advisors and mentors and board members. There are scads of people at former startups (companies like TripAdvisor and Zipcar and Akamai) with great experience in hiring, marketing, business development, and other areas, who can be extremely helpful to startups that are trying to scale. We should be doing more in Boston to find those kinds of experts and weave them into our startup community.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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