Building a collaborative startup community is not easy; there is no specific rule you can set. It is a community ideology, mindset, and shared dreams between all of its players. But where do you start? What is important? Here are three important things you should keep in mind.
Build a Shared Purpose
Communities must be innovation platforms; players seek a basis for trust and organizational cohesion. The sociologist Max Weber famously outlined four basis for social relations, which can be roughly summarized as tradition, self-interest, affection and shared purpose.
This shared goal is not an expression about what we create individually, but about the overall value we can orchestrate through collaboration with our broader ecosystem, which we’ll always be able to count on, because of its flexibility and fertility for growth and innovation.
The process of achieving a purpose is rarely simple and straightforward; startup communities must move through several distinct phases.
They should engage all the players and allows them to meet regularly to share ideas and discover common ground. They should also create contexts in which people can begin to imagine, and act, from a new sense of possibility to find new and better ways to work together.
You can start with analyzing the situation and determining the key issues involved. It moves on to a definition of the fundamental mission or desired outcome. Everyone then articulates a common vision and works out a plan and a timetable for meeting their goals. In most cases, the process concludes with an assessment of the outcomes and a review of lessons learned.
Some ideas to foster collaboration:
Developed by the Founder Institute, the canvas seeks to provide the local entrepreneurs a clear list of resources for every stage of their startup journey. Also, the canvas can be a shared understanding of what the ecosystem actually is, and allows everyone to have a good perspective for both community builders and startups on the local ecosystem to exploit existing chances and at the same time identify missing links.
Startup Week is a celebration of entrepreneurial events in cities over five days where participants can choose the events they’d like to attend that are held at various venues across a town. By having more organizations and communities participating, you can have the ability to link people, ideas, and resources that wouldn’t normally bump into one another, and help creating a unique density around your community’s unique entrepreneurial identity.
Create a Culture of Collaboration
The hardest challenge for any startup community that wants to turn into an open, and collaborated network, is to develop and grow the culture of collaboration. To make this work, startup communities must be inclusive. This means being genuinely open to everyone who wants to engage in the community irrespective of who they are or where they originate from. This also means believing in collaboration as a fundamental part of building the ecosystem to guide the community towards that collective fulfillment for continued growth, which in turn will enable the essential collaboration endeavor.
The first place to start with is your organization/community. Try to think in ‘win-win’ terms rather than seeing interests in conflict with other players, devote many of your resources to attain full collaboration, and relentlessly communicate the need to make enhanced collaboration a success. By doing so, you set an example through your behavior in the way you collaborate to direct the community toward more collaboration.
Empower Entrepreneurs Leadership
Collaborative communities cannot get off the ground without a core group of entrepreneur leaders who foster the collaboration, establish the vision and community values, and attract more people to the ecosystem. That does not mean top-down authority structures, titles or specific roles, it’s more like evolving with a group that provides the social capital and infrastructure that other participants can build on.
Since the leaders are entrepreneurs, they can identify the problem and conduct continuous evaluation of the community.
Having the entrepreneurs lead is essential to building a sustainable startup community. In every startup ecosystem, lots of different organizations and individuals get involved and play a significant role, include governments, investors, mentors, universities, big business, etc. Although their involvements are essential, they can’t be the leaders of their local startup community. They must be feeders.
In his book, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, author Brad Feld pointed out what it takes to create a community of entrepreneurs in any city.
“Leaders of startup communities have to be entrepreneurs. Everyone else is a feeder into the startup community. Both leaders and feeders are important, but their roles are different.”
To more empower and connect their cities to the wider world, entrepreneurs leaders develop contacts not only in their local hubs but also beyond them. By taking action, they provide authority for others to become leaders.
This was originally published here.