Building a Vibrant Startup Community in Orange County

I recently had the pleasure to meet Brad Feld in Los Angeles and read his new book Startup Communities which provides an excellent roadmap for building startup communities from the ground up.  The book is based on his experience as one of the leaders of the Boulder startup community so it’s not hypothetical, which is important for me.  If you have not read the book I highly recommend it, there is a lot of useful info for startup founder, even if you don’t have time to get involved in the community in a leadership role.

Some of the key takeaways were:

– The Boulder Thesis; the four key requirements of building successful startup communities (main requirement: must be lead by entrepreneurs)
– The role of leaders and feeders,
– Mentor-driven networks versus hierarchical structures,
– The “give before you get” motto.

At the same time two startup community guides were published by Sam Teller (Los Angeles) and David Cohen (Boulder) which provide the next step in helping a community come together and grow.

Being that I’ve lived in OC for the past 12 years and intend to continue (to the extent in my control) I’d like to be a part of a vibrant tech startup community in Orange county.  For those that know me I have tried in the past with limited time and resources to get something going in the Aliso Viejo area but being new to the process I was not successful.  However, the thought never left me:  Why do I have to drive to LA and San Diego or Fly to the Bay Area to get the basic support and feedback startup founders need?  Every one these communities is awesome and I love any chance I get to go there but considering the time and cost of travel it not practical on an ongoing basis.  So it was perfect timing when I found out about Brad’s book and I’m now back at it.

I do know there is a more active community in North Oc (Irvine and North) than South OC and Orange County is such a large area we need to have activities in many places to get everyone involved.  You can see a view of what’s happening in OC on this map.

The Startup Weekend movement has also been active here (unfortunately I have not had a chance to attend yet) but that is definitely the most high profile, startup friendly event.

As I get started back on this topic I have to remind myself again about what is needed:

1. Be all inclusive:  everyone that is interested is welcome! regardless of experience, age, gender, funding, etc.

2. Partner NOT compete:  When creating new events check with other event organizers in the community to make sure you’re not on the same night and time as much as possible.  If we make Orange County software successful we’ll all benefit.

I’m currently working with other Orange County tech startup people in putting together a guide to our community and hoping anyone that cares about and loves living in Orange County will help with input.  The first draft should be out soon and I’d love to hear from you and hopefully we can work on this together!

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