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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. They set up a group name and a website. They started talking about what kind of events they could do.
  4. 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.
  5. They started with events, which they called “pub talks,” including some start-up presentations, workshops, etc.
  6. Then they connected it to a statewide entrepreneurs network and a statewide software association, by talking to the leaders of those groups.
  7. 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.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.