The Successful Startup Week Cocktail

Cocktails_mit_Schirmchen

As I work with organizers of Startup Week cities to create amazing weeks, and observe the real thing in action in places like Columbus, OH, Denver, and Seattle, I’m inspired to learn about whether or not there’s a perfect community cocktail that helps each week thrive. A cocktail that’s ideally made up of equal parts community and passion, with strong notes of giving-back, and even a dash selfishness (the good kind.) In my opinion, these are just a few of the things I’ve observed that have made the Startup Week’s I’ve attended pretty special:

Community Support

As you can imagine, executing dozens of (often more than 100) events in multiple places at the same time CANNOT be done without the support of engaged volunteers. The volunteers that I met in Seattle were extremely helpful, attentive, and seemed to be authentically engaged in the mission of the week. Education goes a long way in these cases, and organizers have a responsibility to help helpful crews understand what the week is all about, and that the team is grateful for their time to ensure the week runs smoothly. Similarly, without the generous time of panelists, speakers and mentors, there would be no Startup Week at all. Each area I’ve worked with clearly has a vibrant, caring community of entrepreneurs who are vested in sharing best practices, knowledge, and their time to benefit the greater entrepreneurial good of the region. I loved seeing it in action. Make it your mission to rally and reach out to your startup community (way before) and during this awesome week.

Relationships > Content

In Denver I spoke with a handful of attendees who expressed one of their favorite moments of the week came during “Mentor Hours” at Chase Basecamp. Mentor Hours were segments of time each day at Basecamp (the hub of activity during Startup Week) where members of the startup community registered for time slots to connect with various leaders from around the regional startup ecosystem. I overheard discussion topics that ranged from business plan review, to family vacations, which proves that Startup Week is more than a week of education, but instead, a week of actual connection between likeminded individuals. Don’t get me wrong, the content presented during the week is pretty amazing, but I’ve heard time and time again it’s the connections that were made that created the most impact. Help facilitate as many relationship building opportunities as possible during the week.

#GiveFirst

At Techstars, it’s one of our core values. But, if it wasn’t, the mentality for an entirely volunteer-led organizing team to pull off an entire week of programming and celebration would still have to remain the same. In Columbus, and the other cities, I’ve gotten to work with so far, one thing rings true: They are doing this for their local community. It’s powerful, and authentic–and creates an incredible Startup Week. The volunteers all have full time responsibilities, but dedicate so much of their “free” time to give back and ultimately help grow their local ecosystem.