Somehow I get involved in these discussions from time to time, usually a local politician is doing research on what they can do to help the startups or grow the entrepreneurial community. Usually what they’re looking to do is provide some sort of access to “funding” or get office space for the entrepreneurs. But recently I found some comments by @fredwilson to be dead-on the best answer I’ve ever heard for what local governments can be doing to help grow the community. There are five main areas that Fred identifies in his talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin:
- Good schools
- Good parks
- Good transportation
- Safe streets
- Good places for people to live
Politicians, focus on those five things and that will attract talent and growing companies. There’s a lot more to it but those are the basics and those are the things that elected officials should be focusing on. I’d also add here a quote from Brad Feld, “paint a big spotlight on what’s going on in the entrepreneurial community.” Just stay away from trying to figure out who to get funding to, who the next great companies are, just get out of the way, this isn’t where you can add value.
Still committed to helping startups raise money? Angel investment is the catalyst for any entrepreneurial community – it gets things flowing. But as you’ll hear Fred say in the video, there has to be a more “cowboy” mentality when doing this. The mindset has to become one of “not missing the next big thing” rather than “I don’t want to look like an idiot for investing in (x).” We’re probably a long way from doing that here and it will probably be very small steps at a time as we get this going. As Fred points out in the video, get the wealthy people out of investing in bonds and into investing in startups. Angel capital is THE MOST critical thing necessary to get this moving.