Yesterday afternoon I watched two very good startup business presentations, for two local companies that will be presenting in a couple of weeks to our new community startup group, called Smartups. The group, which is just a few months old, seems like a good example of what a few interested people can do to build some community amongst local startups.
For example, the next event, on Oct. 14, will get about 100 people together for a couple of hours after work to hear three 12-minute business pitches and several more one-minute pitches from some local startups, including the two I heard this afternoon in a preview and coaching session: Golden Signals, with new technology for linking computers to televisions; and Take Shape, with technology to do a health-and-fitness body scan in a few seconds. Both are interesting companies. It’s a privilege to get to listen to their pitches.
The winners of the Oct. 14 event will compete in November at an angel investor event in Portland.
That’s been done by three or four active organizers and a total of maybe a dozen or so interested sometimes-organizers. They’ve established the organization, built the website, set up a calendar, recruited speakers for some events and presenters for others, rented the location, notified the media and made things happen.
A year ago some of these people were complaining that there were no community peer groups for startups. Those complaints turned into a couple of meetings, which became an organization and then events. The group is now a chapter of the statewide Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, based in Portland, about two hours away.
Eugene is a city of about 150,000 total population, two hours from Portland, but not a suburb. It is the home of the University of Oregon, which has about 20,000 students, so that certainly adds to the community. The university has an entrepreneurship center, but Smartups, ironically, has been mainly the work of a few individuals, some law firms and the local Small Business Development Center.
For the people involved and the people who come to events, what they get is community: peers, service providers, some experts, some potential investors and, generally, an opportunity to talk about starting businesses, being entrepreneurs and getting help from other interested people.
You may already have something like this in your community. If you don’t, then use Smartups as an example. Get going.