Friday, March 13, 2015



* What *Would* Norris Do (WWND) would seem, oh, a wee bit narcissistic? ;)

a/k/a: “I Was Wrong, Friday the 13th Edition?” #BoiseIsRising?

Monday evening saw a great event, a joint extravaganza where Startup Grind Boise brought Scott Kupor (coo of VC goliath Andreesen Horowitz to the grand opening of Boise’s new collaborative space, Trailhead. I love ‘em both and together… just wow!

You might have been amused by all the people who took credit for Kupor and all those trying to impress him but this was not a night for the usual internecine squabbling… Look. At. The. Audience.

No idea what the count was but it was the biggest turnout ever for Grid. But forget that. The quality was staggering. I was exhausted by the time Grind’s Jessica Whiting introduced Scott… just from saying hello to all the good people who showed up.  Even met a few great new faces like CDA’s Nick Smoot of Innovation Collective (who now owes me beers!)

On the heels of the INL/CAES/ITC Energy Connected symposium and with develop.idaho arriving next month (not to mention the revival of ITC’s R&D/Tech Commercialization committee – wish me luck! Haven’t been fired yet, lol) Seriously… it’s hard not to feel encouraged, especially after what Trailhead honchos Faisal Shah & Karen Meyer told me (sorry, not yet).

With the quantity and quality of attendance so high… it was intriguing that 4 or 5 people (even strangers) wondered openly about those who were NOT there. Definitely the ‘top down’ types were in short supply[1]. It’s Brad Feld’s first rule of startup communities – entrepreneur-driven, relentlessly bottom up. Grind and Trailhead are exactly that.

But here’s why Norris Was Wrong… Again - it was a gorgeous warm, sunny day, the kind of day where all too often Idahoans decide to go enjoy the outdoors – or decide they needed to do something ‘family’ or…whatever. I’ve been to too many under-attended events simply because people had better things to do. (Yes, your kid’s lacrosse practice is important. But in happening communities, people find ways to do both. Maybe Monday night we saw signs that we are figuring it out.) So, thanks Boise for proving me wrong![2]

Ah, but what about Scott Kupor do you ask? He went out of his way to deliver a positive, optimistic message. He focused on Idaho’s positives (though it was clear he’d seen it all). He urged us to read more but also to do more.

The line of the night was Scott quoting his boss, Marc Andreesen, who when asked how innovative Andreesen-Horowitz was as a VC firm, he wondered if “we are the most evolved…. dinosaur.” Think about that for a bit.

Scott also made it clear that Boise was now on their radar and hinted that maybe they could be helpful (beyond just showering us with money at really good valuations, lol). Scott, if you read this… I have a wishlist for you. (Yes, you do need an office/spy here but that’s not what I’m talking about…)

Let me get back to what Faisal Shah and Karen Meyer both told me – complete with intent gaze and outstretched finger pointing at me – “Help. Boise.”

Rather than making excuses, I agreed and meetings are happening. [Possibly with more “gentle nudges” upside my head?]

So back to the title... What Should Norris Do? (to help Boise/Idaho)
And if I can be narcissistic and ask “WWND?”… here is MY action agenda.

Better LATE than Never?
#1… uh, wait! Full stop. Let’s reach out and Ask The Entrepreneurs. There is nobody in Idaho has a better idea of exactly what Idaho’s entrepreneurs need to rocket forward, nobody even close, and MY #1 agenda item is to say… Let’s. Ask. The. Entrepreneurs. (LATE)

So, the real #1…. Listening sessions. They’ve worked all over the world. We know how to do them brilliantly. And… they have even worked before in….. Idaho!

Google Maps! Combine those with world-class mapping of the entrepreneurial ecosystem (#2) and we know where we are AND where the entrepreneurs want to go. Something else we know how to do. Brilliantly. But haven’t. And in the meantime…

Startup Grind in 1 year has brought in more people who can actually help us than most groups have done in forever. (#3) Let’s bring the world’s Best and Brightest here. Listen to them. Hear what they really say. Ask the entrepreneurs what they think. And ACT on it. I know lots of amazing people – tell me who you want!

[Scott K – if you’re still reading… A16Z could help us with all of these ;) ]

There’s more but I’ll save those for the next post.[3]

So… What Would Norris Do… needs to become What SHOULD Norris Do?
So… TELL ME!!!!!! I can’t listen to you unless you tell me! ;)

Entrepreneur Up, Y’all!
 (and Happy Friday the 13th AND Happy Pi Day! 3/14/15!

[1] However, I won’t name names… I always believe that it’s better to celebrate what you have rather than bemoan what you don’t. This principle also is key to developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, any local economy.
[2] Again, admittedly not a high bar ;)
[3] But think “youth entrepreneurship” and “Assemble the Avengers!”