In case you are not familiar with Harry Potter, children are handpicked for their magical abilities at the age of eleven and shipped off to boarding school for indoctrination into the wizarding world. To my understanding, no one has established secret schools to train the next generation of leading tech entrepreneurs. However, “Estonia’s government has backed a project to teach coding to children starting at age 7,” according to Techstars.
Governments, communities, and educational institutions all hope to foster higher levels of tech entrepreneurship since startups create 2/3 of new jobs. One of the most critical factors in building startup ecosystems is cultivating talent. How can countries, regions, and cities indoctrinate their populations into tech entrepreneurship?
Surprise! Welcome to the ranks of the elite.
When Harry Potter was invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he didn’t take standardized tests or fill out a common application. Harry had proven his magical potential and abilities, so the school sent him a letter by owl. How are you inviting people into your startup ecosystem?
Although the Kauffman Foundation recommends that startup ecosystems should be open and inclusive, adding an element of exclusivity to your startup ecosystem may increase its attractiveness. Whether you work for a startup or entrepreneur-support organization, you can identify promising talent, such as graduating students, and personally invite them to meet-ups, hackathons, and small gatherings, which provide introductions to your team and other ecosystem parties. Relationships with university faculty, administrators, and students can help you identify people to recruit. The key to getting talented people into your ecosystem is making them feel special and comfortable.
Once people have entered your ecosystem, the fun truly begins. With Startup Commons’ Digital Ecosystem Applications, you can access knowledge about all of the people and companies within your startup ecosystem. This enables you to strategically form relationships that encourage collaboration, mentorship, and investment. Similar to recruiting talent, relationship formation requires that you to take a personalized approach. Experiment with one-on-one introductions, bring-a-friend events, group activities, secret societies, etc. Different approaches work well for forming different types of relationships.
Establish a Ministry of Magic.
Since wizards operate largely underground and possess power that the general population lacks, the wizarding world has its own governing body, the Ministry of Magic. If your goal is to develop a startup ecosystem, wouldn’t it make sense to create a governing body that focuses on tech entrepreneurship?
Ideally, this ministry would break down silos by blending education, business, economic development, and environmental policy. The overarching goal of the ministry would be to foster sustainable economic growth and job creation by building a startup ecosystem. Working in partnership with the private sector, this ministry could connect, visualize, and benchmark the startup ecosystem.
Most importantly, the ministry could craft policy that specifically benefits and attracts entrepreneurial talent. To accomplish this effectively, it is best to involve entrepreneurs in the decision making process. Since the startup community will be the primary stakeholder in the ministry’s policies, the community should have an influential voice in the ministry’s decisions.
Encourage Collaborative Competition.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, students from all of the different wizarding schools compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Since the students from various schools all stay at Hogwarts, they collaborate and learn from one another while the tournament is taking place. The competition fosters an exchange of ideas, while allowing the schools to showcase their talent. Similarly, startup ecosystems should foster collaborative competition internally, as well as externally.
You can use startup awards, such as the CT Entrepreneur Awards, to recognize crucial contributors within your startup ecosystem. In addition to rewarding contributors, startup awards spotlight role models who can influence your entrepreneurial culture. Awards give people and companies something noble for which to strive.
Another way to foster collaborative competition is through pitch competitions. You can start with local pitch competitions, and the winners can go on to compete with winners from other startup ecosystems. Pitch competitions provide an excellent mechanism for ecosystems to share inspirational ideas, both internally and externally. Startups in your ecosystem may want to use the Startup Commons Business Plan Tool to prepare their pitches or refer to this post on pitching.
Find your magic wand.
As Harry Potter knows, the wand selects the wizard, and no two wands are exactly the same. When you are developing your startup ecosystem, do not try to copy what worked in Silicon Valley. Every ecosystem has a unique style, so different strategies are necessary for talent cultivation. Startup Commons’ KPI Data Dashboard enables you to track ecosystem metrics so that you can identify policy strategies and measure their impact. Stay persistent, and find your magic wand for indoctrinating tech entrepreneurs.
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