Before we set out to start yet another source of articles for startups and entrepreneurs, we did our research. In addition to the dozens of companies that we’ve been involved with or worked with over the years, we conducted primary market research with entrepreneurs in secondary technology hubs such as Austin, Boston, Atlanta, and others. … Basically, we interviewed people from across the country, but outside of Silicon Valley.
What we learned is that most of the centers have very similar entrepreneurial ecosystems to that of RTP. In each location, there are a mix of organizations that offer advice, sponsor networking opportunities, or even provide access to advisors and mentors. In most cases the positives and the negatives were consistent. They felt it was good to have the venues to connect the community and have opportunities for introductions to people that can help. But often the experiences of the advisors and mentors do not translate to the challenges of the entrepreneur. Or worse, the act of advising or mentoring is more of an exercise in padding LinkedIn profiles than it is rolling up the sleeves to show how to do something specific.
What the entrepreneurs told us they would like is more candid conversations about what works and what doesn’t. “If I have a challenge, how can I tackle it faster?” How can they learn quickly from other people’s tactical experience and fast track to what works. So that is what we are trying to build with Startup RTP.
We want to do a little less cheerleading than other publications have done in the past. We don’t want to be negative about anything, but we do want to take a critical look at different experiences and point out landmines others have experienced along the way.
Not trying to be negative Nelly’s, (sorry Nelly), but there is an element of healthy skepticism we want to introduce to the startup community. We’ve worked with dozens of companies in industries from big data, AI, finance, supply chain, mobile development, and others. We’ve interviewed (formally and informally) dozens of founders, and startup CEOs.
What the CEOs Told us
Generally, they are finding that some of the common purported value intentions of the startup hubs are wearing thin. Many advisors don’t really advise. A lot of mentors are more interested in padding resume’s while they rot away in big companies. Many people pontificate, but nobody provides specific, actionable steps.
So we’re taking a different spin on startup topics. More dirt. More grunge. More mistakes. And we hope, that makes it more useful to everyone.
It’s not a bitching blog. We’re not throwing people under the bus. But maybe if we start sharing the hard lessons learned in chasing the dream while still trying to make mortgage payments and save for our kids’ education, we can all learn and sidestep some land mines.