Last week I had the privilege to attend the global Startup Grind event. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Startup Grind, it’s a global community that educate, inspires, and connects entrepreneurs around the world. We closed 2013 with almost 80 chapters in more tan 30 countries, from Pakistan to Argentina and from China to Mexico.
During the week I met and learned from not just some of the most knowledgeable and successful people from the startup world (like Dave McClure, Jessica Livingston, Steve Blan, Mike Mapples, Mark Suster, George Zachary, Angela Benton, Mike Abbot, Mary Grove and David Cohen, among others), but also from people around the world, entrepreneurs, founders and representatives of other startup ecosystems.
After having lived a week Silicon-Valley-style, I will try to talk about what I learned and what I think can be useful to Mexico and those ecosystems around the world that want to be successful.
1.-SUCCESS IS SHARED AND EVERYBODY WINS
It is impressive how there is a clear common denominator in the success stories in SV, and that is sharing. A recurring theme came up listening to venture capitals and investors. They talked about how upon realizing that startups had an enormous potential for success, their next step was to share with other venture capitals and investors the opportunity they saw. Value was been created for themselves, for startups and for other funds- a situation where everybody wins- leaving aside ego and selfish feelings to “keep the secret” about the next Twitter.
2.-IF YOU’RE GOING TO BREAK THE RULES, HAVE A GOOD REASON
If you’re part of a community of startups or you are in a startup, you know that there are rules or general guidelines for validating ideas, creating innovation, product fit, lean startup, bootstrap, etc. To my understanding, you don’t have to follow those rules, but you should have a sufficiently valid argument as to why you choose to follow or not a rule. The fact that a rule is in a book does not make it correct.
3.-LEARNING RELATES AND PRODUCES
The way that the elements within the ecosystem in SV relate to each other seems to me very interesting. Everyone has a direct relationship with everyone. Venture capital partners, regardless of their interest in investing, have an excellent understanding of the startups that exists around them. Entrepreneurs, in turn, have a very good understanding of the investment thesis behind each venture capital. This makes for a very productive relationship.
4.-AN ECOSYSTEM IS NOT THE SAME AS A COMMUNITY
It was very interesting for me realizing what being part of a community really means. It means that everyone creates and environment where you can talk with ease with other people and present yourself to new people. It means that as soon as you arrive to an event you already have at least 3 or 4 people telling you about themselves, what they do, what their plans are for the future. No one, absolutely no one, thinks that someone is going to steal someone’s idea. No one worries about having their startup negatively criticized.
5.-OPPORTUNITIES DON’T COME, YOU HAVE TO GO GET THEM
I found David Scanlon’s case of Enterprise Ireland very surprising and I think that it demonstrates this point about opportunities. David presented an initiative of the Irish Government that recruit startups from all over the world to encourage them to operate and develop in Ireland. That fact that a country with Ireland’s characteristics has a well-structured and very attractive program to meet its goals is wonderful. That is exemplary of what it means to find opportunities and not wait for them. It’s no surprise that Ireland is one of the leading operating centers for companies in Europe. You can find out more about this case, read this report about Enterprise Ireland 2012. http://goo.gl/jURcg0
6.-NEVER LOSE INTEREST IN YOUR COMMUNITY
It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive at Facebook, CEO of a venture capital fund with over a billion dollars, vice-president of Twitter or founder of Jawbone, always make time for your community.
Lastly, I am lucky enough to belong to Startup Grind, the best family in the world of entrepreneurs. Thanks to them I am connected to 80 cities and 30 countries. But most of all, I had the opportunity to meet one of the most interesting groups of people in my life and the opportunity to share experiences and friendships with them. Thank you for that!