25 quotes from startup communities by Brad Feld

Below are quotes from Brad Feld’s book: Startup Community. This book tells the account of how seed accelerator Techstars community started. Feld is a co founder of Techstars. I thought that was the most helpful framework to think of how to build startup communities when I worked for La French Tech.

THE BOULDER THESIS I suggest a […] framework based on our experience in Boulder. Let’s call it the Boulder Thesis. This framework has four key components:

  1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.
  2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment.
  3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.
  4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.”

There is no leader of the leaders.” The best startup communities are loosely organized and consist of broad, evolving networks of people.”

There are no votes, no hierarchy, no titles, and no specific roles. them. I don’t believe that people motivate other people; rather they create a context in which others are motivated.”

Be Socratic. Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).”

Be authentic/practice what you preach.”

Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard. Listen, too. The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way relationships.”

Be responsive. Adopt at least one company every single year.”

Experience counts.”

Clearly separate opinion from fact. Hold information in confidence.”

Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.”

Know what you don’t know. Say, I don’t know” when you don’t know. I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.”

Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours.”

Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.”

Be optimistic. Provide specific actionable advice; don’t be vague.”

Be challenging/robust but never destructive. Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard.”

If the startup community has a culture of inclusiveness, it will constantly have entrepreneurs step up into leadership positions.”

The existing leaders need to be welcoming of these new leaders or else the startup community will have the patriarch problem.””

The entrepreneurial leaders also need to be inclusive of any feeders who want to participate.”

Entrepreneurs live in networks. Government lives in a hierarchy.”

When they try to control what’s going on in the startup community, they often retard the actual growth of the startup community.”

Entrepreneurship doesn’t follow geographic boundaries.”

Entrepreneurs operate in a networked world; government operates in a hierarchical world.”

Impact is a key word for all entrepreneurs. In a networked system, you want to have impact; in a hierarchy, such as government, you want to have control.”

A startup community is a rapidly evolving, ever-changing thing. It doesn’t need a long-term structure; that will emerge from the continually evolving activities of the entrepreneurial leaders. It doesn’t need a hierarchy”

because it runs on a network model. Most importantly, it doesn’t need any bureaucracy because this just slows down progress and the necessary and continual change that has to happen over a long period of time.”*

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