As an early Startup America Regional Champion I can tell you first hand several of the things that are key to a successful startup community. I plan on putting a lot of that down to paper in this resurgence of Nibletz in just a few weeks. In the meantime though it’s great to see when startup communities get it right. And although people in Cleveland have the same affinity for native Baltimoreans that we have for those in Indianapolis, when it’s about startups Cleveland is getting it right and I’m really glad to see it.
Ego is one of the biggest barriers to a successful startup community, that and trying to call your community “Silicon Anything”. Ego is the biggest driver of the demise of startup communities it’s where you separate true leaders from the assholes that want to pretend to be doing it right. Typically someone has a million dollar exit and decides to wine and dine the whole community, buy expensive cars and all the sudden they know everything. Except then you run into men and women who’ve made 100x that in exits and you may be shocked to find that they are truly passionate about the community they are building.
In Cleveland a mix of successful entrepreneurs with varying exits and community supporters that know the greater good are looking to create something special, a hub if you will, for startup action in Cleveland.
The effort to create StartMart is being spearheaded by Charles Stack and Jennifer Neundorfer who founded the Flash Starts accelerator in 2012. The accelerator is still running today and continues to help fund and mentor startups in a 12 week summer program.
Their idea for StartMart is to have a centrally located hub that can provide space, resources and leadership to the at large entrepreneurial and startup community in Cleveland. The vision includes having space for all of Cleveland’s accelerators including Flashstarts, Bizdom, LaunchHouse, and SEA Change. They also want to include co-working space and office space that startups that graduate out of Cleveland’s various programs, could use to operate out of.
“There’s a certain benefit from getting big amounts of diversity and density in one place” when it comes to nourishing startups, Stack told Fresh Water Cleveland “The exchange of ideas circulate more frequently and rapidly – like a giant water cooler.”
Stack hopes to model the idea on startup hubs like Chicago’s 1871, Austin’s Capital Factory and Cincinnati’s Cintrifuse. They haven’t secured the space just yet but Bizdom and LaunchHouse are both on board.
“This is just what Cleveland needs, because it’s raising the visibility for all of our entrepreneurs,” Shannon Lyons ,Chief Business Development Officer at Launch House said. “Having this kind of epicenter, having a place that has visibility, there’s something very magical when the stars align. Watching the city evolve over the last 10 years, I’m like, ‘yes, this is the next step for startups.’”
Startup communities that are a little further along, like Cleveland, are starting to answer the question of what comes next after an accelerator. Memphis’ Star.co offers programming for startups beyond the traditional 90 day co-hort and continues to work with their core startups in perpetuity.