Micah April 11th

Community is Big in Omaha

bigomahaWhat? Not another post about how awesome Boulder is?

About a year ago, I was meeting with David Cohen of Techstars and I remarked how there just had to be other blogs like ColoradoStartups and people like him who were passionate about their local tech communities.

“How cool would it be if there was a blog network of startup blogs?”

David mentioned Alex Muse down in Dallas who wrote the TexasStartupBlog, and a matter of days later we were all on the phone. Several months later, SpringStage was born. Both David (here) and Alex (here) write about it, and I am proud of my early help in getting it off the ground.

SpringStage is an example of a firm belief I have: That the true innovation in the US occurs BETWEEN the coasts, not ON the coasts. True innovation is where the problems are equally as difficult, but the resources are less.

I have seen it alive and well in Boulder. I have experienced it in other cities around the country, and with there being more than 35 bloggers in the SpringStage network, innovation clearly doesnt solely exist in San Francisco and New York.

At SXSW, I got to meet Jeff Slobotski of Silicon Prairie News and the organizer of the Big Omaha conference (May 7-8, 2009). I was blown away by his enthusiasm and love for Omaha. It is clear in the people he has gotten together to speak at Big Omaha, its almost like a mini-web 2.0 TED.

But whats more important is the recognition that entrepreneurship exists in every city in the United States, and we as entrepreneurs must foster that growth. Every time two people get together and figure out an interesting and unique way to solve a problem it should be celebrated.

I am looking forward to speaking at Big Omaha, partly because I am on a roster of my friends (current and yet to be), but mostly because I will be able to talk to local entrepreneurs and listen to their interesting take on how they are building the entrepreneurial community in Omaha.

If you are on the fence about attending, let me ask you: Are you a member of a entrepreneurial community? Is it doing everything you want it to do for you? Are you doing everything for your community you can?

At BigOmaha, I promised that we will explore ways you can do better by your community, and it can do better by you.

Or as Jeff says:

“The energy will be impossible to contain. We will begin building communities, companies and friendships. We will inspire new thoughts and completely new ways of thinking. We will develop visions: personal, shared, and civic.”

See you there?

By the way: Registration is only $199 until April 25. I would jump on it.

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Micah September 16th

Startups, Startups Everywhere

Over the past several months, I have been spending my nights and weekends working with two very smart people on a project that is close to my heart.

When I came out to Colorado from California many moons ago, I thought that startups and entrepreneurship only existed in the Bay Area. In fact, I was kinda surprised that the Internet had made it to Colorado (well, not really. Maybe just high speed).

Now, firmly ensconsed in the Boulder startup scene, I know how important it is for startups to grow across this country. Even more so, it has become a passion of mine to see this occur everywhere.

There is little to no reason for a startup to have to be in San Francisco or New York to become a successful.

A couple of months ago, I went to David Cohen, who writes ColoradoStartups, and discussed the idea of finding people like David across the country and bringing them together, either as a blog network, or as a loose federation, in order to share ideas (and revenue – I am a business man after all) and to show that startup culture exists outside the coasts.

David, liking the idea, reached out to Alexander Muse, who writes the blog TexasStartupBlog. Alexander, immediately jumped at the idea, sharing our passion for regional startups.

And, SpringStage was born.

SpringStage, still in a pre-alpha, alpha stage (we have some cool stuff coming). But, it is alive with about 15 bloggers across the country, and it is growing. Our hope is that is becomes the resource for local entrepreneurship.

THE OPPORTUNITY: SpringStage is recruiting local catalysts, local contributors and national contributors.  Our goal is to have a SpringStage Catalyst in every major city in the United States by the end of 2009.  Over the next three years our network of catalysts will work together to help promote entrepreneurship through by working to create startup communities in their areas.

Catalysts select a specific geographic location, usually covering a specific city or state.  Next a SpringStage resource will setup a blog where the catalyst should begin to write about their local startup scene.  One or two posts each week are required and it is recommended that a catalyst write one or more posts per day.  The catalyst should be available for a conference call every other Friday to share experiences, coordinate activities and contribute ideas.  Stage two includes hosting offline events such as happy hours, startup mixers, demos and other ad hoc type social events for startups.

Local contributors are usually writers or bloggers who cover startups and entrepreneurs, but who do not have the time to commit to becoming a catalyst.  The local contributor simply continues to write or blog wherever did previously, but tags appropriate content with the ‘springstage’ tag and that content is syndicated on the SpringStage startup blog in his or her area.  The local contributor owns the content, but gives SpringStage a non-exclusive license to use the content.  Local contributors are given a byline and a link back to their blog.

National contributors are similar to local contributors, but do so on a national basis.  Their contributions consist primarily of blog posts covering startups and entrepreneurship on a general basis, not necessarily associated with a particular area. Again, the national contributor simply continues to write or blog wherever did previously, but tags appropriate content with the ‘springstage’ tag and that content is reblogged across the entire SpringStage startup network.  The national contributor owns the content, but gives SpringStage a non-exclusive license to use the content.  National contributors are given a byline and a link back to their blog.

BACKGROUND: Founded by David Cohen, Micah Baldwin and Alexander Muse, SpringStage seeks to build a network of catalysts who are interested in promoting entrepreneurship in their local communities.  United in the belief that vibrant startup communities can spur entrepreneurship, our team is building a blueprint or toolbox of resources that can help you help you create a vibrant startup community in your hometown.  There are scores of stories about entrepreneurs from all over the United States and Europe who are encouraged to move to Silicon Valley to start their businesses.  If you have ever spent time in San Francisco or Palo Alto you can’t help but run into entrepreneurs and startups; it is almost impossible not to become inspired to start your own business.  Have you ever asked yourself why your city doesn’t have the sort of startup community found in the Valley?

Over the past three years David in Boulder and Alexander in Dallas have sought to engage their community in conversations and activities relating to startups, entrepreneurship and venture capital.  David began his quest by authoring a simple blog called ColoradoStartups.com around the same time Alexander started the TexasStartupBlog.com.  Working entirely independently, the two began writing about local startups, entrepreneurs and venture capital.  Initially, their two blogs were a one-way communication medium where David and Alexander would simply write about what they saw in their respective cities.  Over time the blogs became the go-to source of local news related to entrepreneurs and startups resulting in conversations between entrepreneurs.  These online conversations resulted in offline conversations and meetings.  Some of these meetings were organized and some were ad hoc.  Startup communities began to spring up around David and Alexander.

Micah, while new to blogging, is not new to the startup scene having been a serial entrepreneur. After selling his latest company, Micah began blogging and saw the power that blogging brings to the local community. Now a strong member of the Boulder startup scene, Micah looked to find ways to help augment that scene and attract entrepreneurs to Boulder.

In May of 2008 David, on the advice of Micah, reached out to Alexander and the three decided to join forces share information, help better support their local communities and eventually to help other startup communities spring into action.  Later that summer the pair, along with Micah Baldwin, founded SpringStage and began recruiting catalysts around the United States and the world.

WHY: There are perhaps a hundred reasons why someone would want to join SpringStage as a catalyst.  David and Alexander initially became catalysts to generate deal flow for their investment activities.  Over time the pair realized that being part of the communities they helped create was reason enough. The reality is we all win if we can create cooperative environments that are friendly to entrepreneurs and startups.  They attract early and late stage investors and potential employees.

WHO: Anyone can make a great catalyst.  It simply takes a) five to ten hours a month, b) a desire to connect with local entrepreneurs, c) the ability to write a few blog posts a week, and d) the dedication to stick with the effort for at least a year.  Each SpringStage community will look different depending on the catalyst; there is no right answer.

* Angel Investors
* Venture Capitalists
* Entrepreneurs
* Would-be Entrepreneurs
* Academics

HOW: Becoming a SpringStage catalyst or contributor is very easy.  Complete our short application: http://tinyurl.com/springstage-app.  If there is already a catalyst in your area we will immediately connect you.  If there isn’t a catalyst in your area a member of our selection committee (consisting of David, Micah and Alexander at this point) will give you a call to determine if there is a good fit.


BTW, one thing you will always see in this network is the utilization of local startup technology that is focused on growing community. Each blog now has Lijit and Intense Debate installed.

As other technologies become available, we will use those as well, where appropriate.

My primary focus continues to be growing Lijit, and David’s continues to be growing Techstars, so we are alway looking for people that are interested in getting involved in the growing of SpringStage. This project will only be successful if the community gets involved. Feel free to contact me directly.