Do you have a start-ups group where you live? I think it’s a pretty good idea. I’ve watched how three interested people got one going where I live, I’m seeing it working now, and it’s definitely a good thing.
Specific example: Yesterday around 5 p.m. I went over to a local hotel where we had our Eugene (Ore.) Smart-ups group meeting. There was some milling around, then some welcoming, a talk about an upcoming local angel investor contest with $150K to the winner, then a panel discussion on bootstrapping–with two people who are up and running as bootstrapped ventures–a presentation on basic financials and then, at the end, two five-minute elevator speeches chosen from business cards drawn out of a hat.
While this may be of specific interest to you if you’re in the lower Willamette Valley area of Eugene and Corvallis in Oregon, I post it here because you might want to look at your own local groups.
If you don’t have one, start one. What’s interesting to me is that Smart-ups is the kind of thing you could do in a lot of different places. Here’s how they did it here in Eugene:
- Smart-ups was started a couple of years ago by a small group of people who missed having a start-ups organization where they could get together every two or three months and hear experts, watch presentations, share experiences and keep up with what’s going on in the local area.
- They connected with the local chamber of commerce, which has been a strong supporter, by talking to the chamber leaders. The chamber has helped them organize meetings, offered online registration, speakers and organizational help.
- They set up a group name and a website. They started talking about what kind of events they could do.
- They connected with the local Small Business Development Center by talking to the SBDC leaders. The SBDC has become a supporter in a number of ways.
- They started with events, which they called “pub talks,” including some start-up presentations, workshops, etc.
- Then they connected it to a statewide entrepreneurs network and a statewide software association, by talking to the leaders of those groups.
- By now they have connections to both the University of Oregon and Oregon State faculties (one in Eugene, the other in Corvallis).
Last night they had a full room at the local hotel, maybe 150 or more people, and a good program. So Smart-ups is up and running, the local area is better off, the organizers are proud, and people are looking forward to the next event.