Think Locally, Act Locally: Building a Robust Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
20 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 2014
This report analyzes behavioral patterns of entrepreneurs who participate in 1 Million Cups® (1MC) Kansas City, a Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation program designed to engage, educate, and connect entrepreneurs. We published our first paper about 1MC in March 2013, which presented results of an initial survey among 1MC participants to identify their demographic characteristics, information about whether they were a founder or co-founder of a startup, and their attendance patterns at 1MC. This second paper is based primarily on another round of surveys we conducted in May 2013 and January 2014. This time, we deepen our analysis particularly on local networking activities, such as entrepreneurs’ connections to other local programs and information collection via Twitter activities.
Key findings include:
• Entrepreneurs follow local entrepreneurs. While the most popular Twitter accounts in the United States belong to celebrities, entrepreneurs are studious by primarily following entrepreneurship-focused accounts, such as those by other entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial programs, and individuals affiliated with local entrepreneurship support organizations.
• Entrepreneurship is a local phenomenon. The most influential Twitter feeds among the entrepreneurs surveyed are primarily local.
• Local network thickens over time. The network of 1MC participants gets considerably more connected over the eight months of our analysis.
• Different programs reach different entrepreneurs. While the attendance of 1MC in Kansas City — more than 250 weekly — is by no means small, we observe heterogeneity within the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. We found a considerable overlap between 1MC and Startup Weekend attendees, as well as a strong connection between Kauffman FastTrac® and KCSourceLink® participants/users; however, there is little overlap between 1MC and FastTrac, and no evidence of a single “catch-all” program. One interpretation of these results is that different types of entrepreneurs use different types of programs to meet their needs.
• Entrepreneurial demand is high for peer-based learning and networking. The fast growth experienced by the 1MC program, from Kansas City to the soon-to-be thirty-five other cities across the country, suggests that there is a demand from entrepreneurs for opportunities to learn from and connect with their local peers.
• Think local. Policymakers, entrepreneurship supporters, and entrepreneurs themselves should keep in mind the locally structured nature of entrepreneurial networks. Thus, it will be most effective to communicate with entrepreneurs within a local sphere.
• One size does not fit all. A single popular entrepreneurship program does not necessarily reach many types of entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs seek out and build a diverse array of networks. When creating or promoting new entrepreneurship programs, policymakers and entrepreneurship-supporters should consider what types of entrepreneurs are already served by current existing programs and what types of entrepreneurs still are underserved.
Keywords: entrepreneur, networks, entrepreneurship, local, policy, Feld
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