How to Understand Your Startup Community

…and why it might be the best investment you ever make

I owe my current job at Hardbound (we make five-minute illustrated summaries of the best books in business, history, and science) to my startup community. This article will help you unlock some of the many things (jobs included) that a startup community has to offer. Enjoy!

It’s my great pleasure to share with you Startup Communities, a video series explaining each of the participants in a startup community and how you can get involved. The story behind this series is explained below:

It’s rare that you can attribute years of your life to the happenings of one day. For me, that day was April 1, 2015. This is not a joke.

On April fools day in 2015, I was offered to pitch my startup to Julie Penner, Director of Techstars Boulder. Julie is a pillar of the Boulder startup community, and I was introduced to her through my school’s startup competition.

My team and I crowded into a very small conference room, and I did my best to deliver our pitch.

Julie was gracious. She let us know right then and there that we were not ready for Techstars. We were crushed, yet what she said next changed my life.

She did as all leaders in startup communities should, she was radically inclusive, and said that if we needed anything, we should reach out.

Somehow, maybe from the look in her eyes, I could tell that she actually meant it.

After our meeting that day, I did reach out, and she gave me the job that I spent the next two years of my life doing. In my case, investing in the startup community, starting first with my university’s entrepreneurship program, opened the doors to one of the greatest experiences of my life.

In my two years at Techstars Boulder, I saw the power of community firsthand, and was inspired.

I was inspired to take long walks with other pillars of the community and ask them how a startup community really works. From those walks, I produced a short video series explaining the roles and contributions of each and every member of a startup community.

It was my gift back to the startup community, and all 10 videos premiered at Techstars Boulder Demo Day 2017.

With this series anyone can, in 10 minutes, learn about their startup community and how to get involved. If you’re lucky, like me, you’ll run into a leader of the community. With effort, new doors will keep on opening.


Link to the series here.

This was originally published on Medium

Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.


1. Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps.

By Dan Grover

Digest: Artificial Intelligence
Curators: Bjorn Larsen & Nitzan Hermon

A WeChat product manager drops some realism on the over-the-top bot hype from Facebook, Microsoft and seemingly everyone else in tech right now. Read More

More from this reading list:


2. Going Dutch: 9 things we learned about the start-up scene in Amsterdam

By John Kennedy

Digest: Startup Communities
Curators: Julian Miller, Brad Feld & Shane Reiser

Here’s a great look at the Dutch startup scene and how they are capitalizing on their core competencies. Read More

More from this reading list:


3. Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

By Motoko Rich, Amanda Cox, Matthew Bloch

Digest: Education
Curators: Aurelio Jimenez Romero, Vicky Guo & Deborah Chang

Let’s not forget the power of education technology to potentially equal the playing field for our most vulnerable students. Here’s what the problem looks like in the United States. Read More

More from this reading list:


4. Serial entrepreneur wants to inspire more Colorado angel investors

By Monica Mendoza

Digest: Angel Investor
Curator: Berg Moe

What Leslie Jump learned from talking with angel investors is that there are three reasons why they invest: To make money, because they themselves are entrepreneurs and have empathy for how difficult it is to raise money, and because they see the industry they worked in being transformed by technology and want to be part of it. Read More

More from this reading list:


5. Injured Sea Turtle Gets His Bite Back With 3D Printed Jaw

By Devin Coldewey

Digest: 3D Printing
Curator: Dilanka

Interesting case study in ocean conservation & 3D Printing: An injured loggerhead sea turtle has been equipped with a 3-D printed prosthetic jaw at a rehabilitation center in Turkey. Akut-3, named after the search and rescue team that found him, had been struck by a boat’s propeller and his jaw nearly destroyed. Read More

More from this reading list:


Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.

Startup Genome: a visualization tool for your startup community

The following is a post from Shane Reiser, Co-founder of Startup Genome, active Startup Weekend Facilitator and former COO of Startup Weekend.

When I was working as COO of Startup Weekend, I recognized a common need of Startup Weekend organizers around the world: a better way to understand their community.

use this here NOW

Most organizers were mapping their community in one way or another – some on paper, some with mind-mapping software, some just in their heads – but in almost every case it wasn’t exhaustive and it didn’t benefit from the collaboration of the other organizers and the other community builders who care about their city.

Enter Startup Genome; a free an open platform that helps you understand your community.

Startup Genome curators can:

  • visualize growth and funding trends over time in your community and get insights into key stats of your community’s founders like median age, gender, and number of repeat founders.

  • visualize relationships between startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and the accelerators, incubators, non-profits and the other organizations that impact their community.

  • keep tabs on the alumni network from your Startup Weekend events as the startups evolve and the participants connect

Our curator network currently features more than 500 members (including 40 Startup Weekend organizers and Startup Digest curators) building maps in over 300 cities across 46 countries. As a Startup Weekend organizer you’re pre-qualified to join us – you’ve already shown the commitment to your own startup community that we’re looking for. We’ve pre-seeded the maps with data from CrunchBase and other sources and we’re looking for those with local knowledge to refine them.

Startup Genome is made possible through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s foremost foundation for entrepreneurship. Kauffman’s track record for projects at this scale is probably familiar to you – they helped Startup Weekend and Startup Digest get off the ground.

We’re just beginning to realize the benefits of mapping to better understand a community – join us so that your community can benefit, too.

Start here to see your communities map and then click here to learn more about being a Startup Genome curator.