The leading explanation of the Higgs Boson particle is that a field of non-zero strength exists and that particles acquire mass by interacting with this so-called Higgs field. It has tied modern physics to the very origins of our universe. Brad Feld, in his upcoming book, Startup Communities, has identified the Higgs Boson of entrepreneurial ecosystems, and I had the pleasure of starting and finishing a pre-release copy recently.
Entrepreneurial communities aren’t anything new to the midwest and certainly not new to Brad’s favorite city, Boulder. The frontier saw many entrepreneurs, risk-takers, and builders in the region’s history. Boulder and its neighboring communities attracted, kept, and grew their innovators over the past 50 years and this book told some of their stories and how the so successfully navigated uncharted waters.
Startup communities around the country deliver many events, services, and opportunities through ideas born or nurtured in Boulder. These communities, like Boulder’s, aren’t built by a single person but rather by a cadre of committed entrepreneurs who led the creation. Whether Brad talks about the origins of the Boulder New Tech Meetup or Startup Weekend or Startup America, the passion of individuals in building these entities is clear (and thankfully for the rest of us, infectious).
Startup Communities leads one through the creation of the ecosystem and shows how the Boulder community was established by successful (and unsuccessful) entrepreneurs who decided to reinvest in the community and help young startups. Where the establishment (Econ Dev, Government, or the for-profit groups) failed or were invisible, the entrepreneurs made it work, rendering the establishment irrelevant.
Startup Communities also describes wonderfully how the creative class comprising of dreamers, students, and builders fed innovation. When the creative class was able to congregate and converse, ideas and companies emerged. We see this in Des Moines, surrounded by public and private colleges and universities, where young designers, developers, lawyers, and writers descend upon a common job crawl and inject new energy.
Brad speaks about the culture of giving without an expectation of getting. Des Moines is lucky to have such a culture so the concept wasn’t hard to grasp. I routinely see CEOs, business leaders, tech startup founders, and professionals mentoring young startups in our city. Boulder benefits from such a culture as well and the startups continue to be born in such a symbiotic environment. This is the Higgs Boson of entrepreneurial communities – committed, volunteer, entrepreneurs, leaning forward to help startups with no expectation of a return
My initial read was quick and the book fascinating. It documented for me much of what I saw during a visit to Boulder this June when attending the Startup America Partnership regional summit. As Brad documented the building blocks of the startup community he has built, nurtured and supported, I particularly thank him for not prescribing how the rest of us should build our communities. He left the building to us, in our own ways, with our own strengths, and an offer to help in his own unique way.
I’ll be suggesting this book to every startup community builder, every mentor, every chamber of commerce, and every government official tasked with economic development activities. Pre-orders are available now – I’d suggest you reserve yours today.