If you are a startup entrepreneur, there is nothing more important than figuring out the startup ecosystems that can help you succeed. I have found there are two categories of ecosystem that are the most important to explore and integrate with.
1) Local startup ecosystem. Your local ecosystem is simply the people that live in your city, or in the case of the Bay Area, your region.
2) Online startup ecosystem. A number of online resources provide a wealth of information for budding entrepreneurs. I’ll list several top resources later in this post.
Local startup ecosystem.
These exist in every city to some extent, and some of the top cities for entrepreneurs are tracked on the Startup Digest. If you are starting any kind of venture, you absolutely need to get plugged into your local entrepreneurial community. Your local community is great for finding:
1) Talent. No one can (or should) start a venture completely on their own. You will need help. Lots of it. Developers, creative designers, marketers, bookkeepers – you name it. You and your partners may hire folks as employees or independent contractors, but guaranteed at some point you will need to leverage the talents of someone besides yourself. Getting recommendations from people you trust in your local startup ecosystem is very helpful. Personally, I found a great developer this way as well as an outstanding SEO expert.
2) Mentors and Advisers. Living in Austin is a truly a gift for entrepreneurs to find advisers and mentors. Having lived in both the bay area and Austin, I can say that there is something special about the Austin entrepreneurial community. Its more closely knit than the Bay Area, and I’ve found that there are dozens of successful Austin entrepreneurs that are more than willing to help out with advice and introductions.
3) Low cost services. If you are an entrepreneur and especially if you are bootstrapping, you need to get things done on the cheap. Web hosting, creative design, phone systems, merchant services, etc. Tapping local experts to ask what services they use saves time and money.
Austin has several local groups that make up the startup ecosystem. There are so many, I will only list a few. Any you want to add just leave a comment and I’ll add them.
Capital Factory. Great competition every year for funding and mentoring.
Tech Ranch Austin. The founders are plugged into the Austin community and can help with networking and co-working space.
Conjunctured. Good co-working space for meeting and working with colleagues.
Local VCs that focus on Austin companies
Austin Ventures Austin Ventures has been around the longest and is in most big deals in Austin.
Silverton Partners Bill Wood is a legend.
Live Oak Venture Partners (new – launched in Feb 2010)
Local conferences include
Online startup ecosystem.
The emergence of so many helpful online resources for entrepreneurs is going to revolutionize and accelerate entrepreneurial ventures. I keep all of these in my RSS reader.
OnStartups. Wonderfully informational forum board with members that are both successful mentors and budding entrepreneurs.
A Smart Bear blog. Jason Cohen shares his insights on a weekly basis.
TechCrunch. Keep up to date on everything happening in tech.
Lean Startup Circle group. Google group for entrpreneurs interested in Eric Ries’ “Lean Startup” philosophy.
SEO Book blog. Even if you are not focused exclusively on SEO, you should know something about it. Aaron Wall’s blog is awesome.
Mixergy. Andrew Warner conducts regular online video interviews with leading successful entrepreneurs. Andrew has a unique and I think spot on interviewing style where he gets the entrepreneurs to talk about details of how they started, what problems they faced, how they turned the corner, and what level of success (financial and otherwise) they have achieved.
Those are some of the top online resources and there are lots more.
By combining a regimen of local ecosystem interaction with online startup resources, you can establish your perfect ecosystem to help your venture succeed.
What resources would you add to this post?