The Success of a Startup Soars with a Community
By Erik Brieva
“The best way to succeed in business is to surround yourself with smart, more experienced people.”
Statistics show that just over 90% of start-ups fail (according to Startup Genome, 11 out of 12 start-ups fail during their first year). This harsh and bleak reality is well known to entrepreneurs, but despite this, they throw themselves with passion, optimism, and energy into shaping their innovative idea and trying to create their own company. Cold statistics such as these are not meant to discourage entrepreneurs, but to give them a dose of reality and encourage them to work smarter and harder.
As a mentor to entrepreneurs, I often feel their frustration when they have tried to build a start-up alone or in isolation, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, and then attribute their difficulties to personal limitations, lack of investment or the market not understanding their brilliant idea or product. In contrast, when I work with entrepreneurs who are part of a community, or who are supported by the right partners and mentors, this frustration is overcome. Then the focus is on product excellence, finding the product-market fit, finding customers and getting the right partnerships to experience international growth.
Being part of a hub, of a community with the right partners and mentors is the magic that is needed for the success of a start-up. Most entrepreneurs focus on themselves as the key to start-up success, but, in reality, success requires a supportive community. In addition, enjoying respect within their community helps them to be happier and makes them more likely to succeed.
Advantages of founding your start-up by being part of an entrepreneur hub and having a community of mentor-entrepreneurs as collaborators:
1. Intellectual capital: ideas, information, technologies.
Contrary to popular belief, new innovative ideas do not usually come from a single mind. It should be stimulated by easy access to many sources of learning and leadership. The best ideas evolve iteratively and are tested for the ecosystem.
2. Human capital: talent, knowledge, skills, experience.
The best way to succeed in business is to surround yourself with people who are smarter and more experienced than you. Building a start-up is not a solo operation. You need partners, mentors and investors who can complement your own resources so that everyone wins.
3. Financial capital: revenue, equity, debt, funding.
Key sources of financial capital for any start-up community should include friends and family, local investors and angels, and access to venture capital. Despite the reach of the internet and cold calling, nothing replaces warm introductions. Your community and mentors will open the doors to capital.
4. Networking capital: contacts, relationships, connectivity.
Networking events create opportunities for like-minded and like-minded people to form partnerships. In an incubator, business and industry-oriented conferences, hackathons and startup weekends are also organized, inviting external speakers and experienced leaders. An association such as 22@ Network also provides access to innovative companies and large corporations.
5. Cultural capital: mindset, behaviors, history.
Vibrant start-up incubators have a buzz around entrepreneurship, where founders are role models, leaders and even local heroes. People see entrepreneurship as a viable career path, with a supportive vision, an understanding of risk and reward, and tolerance for failure.
6. Physical capital: infrastructure, density, site quality.
Start-ups develop more easily in neighborhoods such as the 22@ district of a large city like Barcelona. This district provides a business and innovation hub, also linked to universities and committed to the knowledge economy. A start-up coworking provides resources, comfortable workspaces, organizes great activities, generates knowledge and creates new networks.
7. Institutional capital: markets, legal system, stability.
Entrepreneurship from Barcelona means having the guarantees of the European Union. The Barcelona City Council has been promoting economic and entrepreneurial activity in the district for 20 years. The 22@ Network association also provides connections with universities and public institutions.
8. International capital: global outlook, cultural diversity, expansion.
A good start-up incubator is made up of an international and multicultural community and has the diversity of genders, races, and global viewpoints to foster innovation and be productive as teams in a complex global environment, connected to international markets, and favoring the internationalization of start-ups.
If entrepreneurship is your dream, it is worth looking beyond your personal drive and location for the hub to make your chosen lifestyle fun and successful, rather than a constant struggle against major obstacles.