By Ben Heinemann
Frederick Terman is known as the “father of Silicon Valley,” but he may as well be known as the father of the startup. After encouraging his students at Stanford University to ditch long laid plans and start their own companies, Terman created a community around the Stanford Industrial Park that fostered innovation. Hewlett-Packard was founded, Kodak, Lockheed and GE moved in, and the startup culture synonymous with Silicon Valley was born.
At the inaugural Startup Phenomenon conference, which was held in Boulder from November 13-15, Boulder was unanimously crowned the next Silicon Valley. We already have Microsoft and Google, a university that just launched a spacecraft to Mars, hordes of talent at multiple marketing, digital and advertising agencies, national labs and a community that has been groomed by Brad Feld, Boulder’s own version Frederick Terman.
Over the course of three days, the roughly 300 small business owners, investors and entrepreneurs listened to Feld and others reinforce the idea of the community being central to a successful startup, even if that community isn’t in a central geographical area.
During his presentation, Feld, who is the Managing Director of the Foundry Group, Co-Founder of TechStars and the author of numerous books on the topic of startups, detailed the challenges as well as the success stories of communities that successfully nurture startups.
“If you go back in time and you think about the origin story of any city, virtually every city on the planet was once a startup,” said Feld. “I came to the conclusion that every city in the world needed a startup community as part of it to continue the engine of innovation, growth and vitality of a city.”
This idea of Feld’s was echoed throughout the conference; Ken Bautista described the startup culture he is helping to create in Edmonton, Canada. Tendai Charasika, Executive Director of GLI’s EnterpriseCorp encouraged attendees to check out the innovations happening in Louisville, Kentucky. Alan Barrell, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Cambridge, described how technology companies of all kinds are flocking to the English countryside, driven by the culture of entrepreneurship and creative spirit championed by the university.
And Andy Stoll, co-founder of Seed Here Studio, is turning flyover country formally known as the Midwest into “Iowa’s Creative Corridor,” which stretches from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids and has had lasting effects as far away as Omaha, Nebraska.
Yes, we happen to be blessed here in Colorado with conditions that have been primed for growth and innovation. Jason Shrock, chief economist for the Colorado Governor’s Office of State Planning, detailed how Colorado has more robust activity in job creation and new business than the nation as a whole, combined with a high re-allocation rate that is the fourth largest in the nation. But that didn’t stop Bautista, or Charasika or Stoll from taking the leap in places that they call home.
This sentiment emphasizes our own mission here at Made, supporting creativity, products and good ideas that create new jobs and innovations in the U.S., no matter where in the country they may be located.
Not everyone can become a great entrepreneur, but a great entrepreneur can come from anywhere. Take initiative. Make things happen. Grow your network and create your startup community.