July 8th, 2020
By Chris Heivly, Techstars Senior Vice President for Ecosystem Development
There is an old saying that goes “80% of success in life is just showing up.” This applies to individual success as well as startup community success. I find that in developing startup communities this one act can be the critical driver to accelerating progress.
Stop optimizing for home-run swing activities (new funds or innovation buildings) and start with the simple act of “showing up”
Large projects and big announcements feel good, but it's the small gestures that resonate the most. The beauty of the ‘just show up’ tactic is that it costs nothing and includes every member of the community.
Every community has an existing set of regular meetups. Some of these are new and some have been around for awhile. Coffee meetings like the Buffalo Open Coffee Club, Louisville version, or the Kelowna version are all great examples. There is one thing that every event organizer craves and that is more participation, especially from influencers.
Showing up creates an opportunity to directly help whatever you are working on. Every person contemplating an idea, launching their startup, or even scaling their existing company needs resources. These can be in the form of advice, new employees or partners, investment capital, or customers. All of these assets are driven by people and any opportunity to conveen people is a community asset.
Showing up shows public support for that event and all future events. We are natural followers of things that others value. When you, as a leader, show up at an event, you signal to the rest of the community that this event is worthy of my time. Others will follow you. (Take it to the next step and publicly support events via your blog, social media or 1:1 meetings and you are really hitting the leader groove!)
New leaders emerge when they see support and decide that they too can fill a void and step up. Future events then create new opportunities for new members to engage. Let's call this the “community circle of life.”
Showing up can lead to success by enabling you to reach your fullest potential. It's a powerful habit that will serve you; you'll achieve your goals and live a happier life.
Chris is one of the nation’s leading experts on launching startups and has been dubbed the “Startup Whisperer.” He cofounded MapQuest, is an angel investor, ran a corporate venture fund and 2 micro venture funds (directed over $75M), and is SVP Ecosystem Development with Techstars. Chris recently published his first book about starting anything called Build The Fort and is currently writing a book on Startup Community Building.