Friday, August 15, 2014

Chattanooga? Model for the Boises of the world?

Chattanooga? Model for the Boises of the world?
Anyone who’s seen what Chattanooga has quietly done over the last decades knows what a ‘can do’ group of citizens are able to make happen… their own gigabit internet, incubating businesses, building not just a great entrepreneurial community but... a great community period!  But I’ll leave the rest to anyone who’s interested.

An old Idaho chum, the shy-and-retiring ;) Wild Bill Sellers, former Idaho Falls gadfly/cheerful curmudgeon and co-inventor of Idaho Tech Launch, sent me the link below and asked for all the ideas hw could “steal” and pitch to the organizers of Chattanooga’s Next Big Thing. Startup Week. (Not sure if this is the Startup Week being pitched by UP Global but it’s a great, great idea… IFF it’s done well, of course.)  After seeing how Colorado Springs pulled off a great week-long event recently – despite opposition from the Turf Monsters ;) –> it sounds like the kind of thing that can bring together all the good folks in a community.

So the following is what I sent Bill... and it makes me want to plunge forward myself! (I will insert a few short asides as to how this might work in, ahem, Idaho.)

So… anything below that makes you want IN?


[Norris rant/on]
Dear Bill, er, Chattanooga:

Ah, Startup Week! Is this part of the national/global effort from UP Global? 

#1 Success Factor. Do NOT ask the "experts", tell them to ask the entrepreneurs. Sponsors may insist on some input but that's ok as long as you listen to the entreps.
See for a shorter, but great model. Founder Jeff Slobotski will help them.

Really depends on what the community wants to learn (again NOT what the "experts”  think they need to hear. ) Having said that, here are some ideas that play well anywhere.  Here are three: 

1. Think Global; Act Local [let me plug great OTHER folks]
2. Ecosystem Building
3. Mindset Growing

1. GLOBAL and LOCAL: Engage National/Global Allies & Friends

If this is not the UP Global Startup Week model, I'd still reach out ASAP to them –for example, my friend Shauna Causey,, tell her I sent ya! They have tons of ideas. See GEW below.

Kauffman is going through some changes but they are still trying to help communities - start with my new chum Nathan Kurtz there [] and the totally awesome 1 Million Cups initiative which they should launch []

SourceLink - dynamite model for keeping the ecosystem defragged [ for best example; Cathi Ulrich, is key contact. She is one of those who nominated me for the National Advisory Council for Innov and Entrep! Totally badass, Cathi might be a great speaker for this event, as would Shauna, Nathan and Slobotski.

Global Entrepreneurship Week - 3rd week of November but becoming almost year-round. The Chattanooga team needs to connect there too if they haven't already. There are some global events that make much sense - for example, do a Startup Weekend at the start or end of GEW and the winners become part of a GLOBAL competition. Total hoot. And a great way to help keep the positive momentum rolling after the October event!!! 

Is that enough, Bill? (Whew... I envy you, bro... I wish we could get the squabbling children together here to do something like this! NOTE to Idaho: We are making progress… keep your eyes peeled!)

2. DEFRAG: Growing Your Own Entrep Ecosystem []

Bill, show them this: dress rehearsal of video being used all across EU 

A series of events where you engage the entrepreneurs in growing the ecosystem. Bill, this is what I do -- it can be a 2-3 hour workshop or a series of activities.Combines the best of what we know with serial entrep/VC Brad Feld's clever model (book: "Startup Communities")

Done this for OECD, EU, in Singapore, Japan, Cairo, NJ, Denmark and Moscow/Pullman (that was actually a blast... seeing UI & WSU work *together*? Priceless!) These workshops always make an impact -and surfaces the turf monsters.... :)

If they want to focus on ecosystem growing, you have them 
a) do a world-class map of the ecosystem, starting in advance... Has to be done brilliantly - a crappy map is not a big help (that's what most cities have). 
b) do a listening session: use AI/ABCD tools - again, entreps only. Could do more than 1. (Should.)
c) tactics workshop (the 2-3 hour version mentioned above)
e) How to Keep the Momentum: simple mechanisms for keeping the lessons alive (e.g., the right metrics...)
            Other cheap/easy tactics here: 
If they like, this could comprise an event each day. I can prep local facilitators so this doesn't become a great event that fades in a week. [NOTE to Idaho: We can do this… so let’s!]

3. Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Colorado Springs had a terrific Startup Week, led by the local community college and the Kauffman Foundation. Their focus was building human capital (the ecosystem stuff is more social capital) so they centered around an example of great experiential learning… (Hands on projects are NOT necessarily experiential.. so part of this was a workshop on that. Another ridiculously self-serving link: )

The example they used is the Kauffman-backed Ice House - it is really deadly good, sneaks in great experiential lessons disguised in a corny framework that plays well with most populations, 3 min video:  (also if you prefer sketchpad version: ) Watch that sketchbook and video and TRY to tell me that we don’t want this kind of great programming in your community!
[NOTE to Idaho: I am working with Ice House and a deep connection with NFTE who's got a similar program. Why not put something like Ice House in EVERY school?]

So, tell me true, my friends… assuming you’ve read this far ;) … am  I giving Chattanooga bad advice?

entrepreneurially yours, Norris