Friday, April 05, 2013

Entrepreneurship Comes in Many Flavors

Entrepreneurship Comes in Many Flavors

Last weekend it struck me that great entrepreneurial thinking shows up in amazing places.  I was enjoying the newly re-opened hot springs up in Idaho City. Wyatt Sharpley has developed a wonderful place ("The Springs") to go relax under the stars. While there, I ran into Anne McDonald, one of the great talents at Boise's remarkable Red Light Variety Show. Not sure i can easily describe it: old-school burlesque [no nudity] meets 21st century comedy. Funny as hell. Anyway, I'd put the RLVS up against anybody, just as I'd put The Springs up against other hot springs in Idaho.

Cultural/arts entrepreneurship. Outdoors entrepreneurship. Aren't these two areas where Idaho should rock? Where any community could build distinctive competences?

Both are great stories of entrepreneurship done right. Yes, both are driven by artistic sensibilities that are what's salient on first impression. But too often, artists can't find ways to fully connect with the audience. "Here's what you should want." 

These two are exceptions. Two very different settings but in both... I felt almost like family. From Day One. To completely embrace your customers without compromising your artistic vision? We all can learn from entrepreneurs like these!

And, yes, there is considerable innovation and technology in both operations, whether handling insanely hot water or the insanely clever props for RLVS.

But if you must talk "tech" - there is still time to get tickets to develop.idaho (and Tech Cocktail). When develop.idaho debuted in 2011, people kept asking me why I had such a big grin. Why? Because this exactly the kind of event that shows up in a healthy ecosystem. 

The Idaho Software Alliance brought this together in a solidly bottom-up fashion. Matt Rissell and Martin Hambalek could have followed their own "artistic  sensibilities" in designing the program but (just as Wyatt & RLVS) they tapped into what the audience wanted. It's very easy to say "here's what you need. " You may even be correct. But to deliver that AND to deliver what the audience is hungry for (often without even being aware they crave it?) That is powerful. 

It is probably not surprising that Martin & Matt are fellow cult members, er, passionate aficionados of the lean startup model: Always test your assumptions about your customers!
[Next post will be on the power of lean]

[I must admit that I was amused by the Important Players who were not there in 2011. And, no, they weren't out of town. :) And at least one speaker lobbed a hand grenade that I appreciated. It's a sign that Idaho's economy grew up a bit.]

Someone yelled at me today that I need to get back to the classroom (they are correct, I miss it more every day) soooo.....
           Here's your homework!
1. go to and check out Wyatt's decadent geothermal spa. (Guys, if you're in the doghouse...hint, hint)
2. go to and take a look... don't tell them but I know more than a few solid Republicans who love it. It's not smutty**it's hilarious! []
and most of all
3. Sign up for develop.idaho (and the ensuing Tech Cocktail showcasing local brainiac entrepreneurs) April 17.
[ ]

You WILL thank me. 

(you can thank me either by buying me a drink at Tech Cocktail or... by reading some more of my blog posts right below this, like
     How to DEFRAG your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
     The Copernican Revolution in Entrepreneurship
I'm still hungry for feedback!)

** ok, it's a bit racy but if this middle-aged, middle-class small-town straight white guy can dig it... :)


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