Track I. Q: What’s in Common Between Silicon Valley and Urban America? A: Mindset.
What is a startup? “A human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” That is how Eric Ries defines a startup in his international New York Times bestseller, Lean Startup. A startup is a mindset a mindset that thrives on uncertainty and innovates with few resources.
The tech world has flourished under this model, creating billionaires, millionaires, thousands of high paying jobs, and hundreds of ‘unicorn startups’ in places like Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Brooklyn, Austin, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and so on down the list of trending ‘startup boom towns’. But, within each of these cities, there is another group of likeminded entrepreneurs unafraid to take big risks. And they are right down the street! This group of entrepreneurs has a different type of training and social network than those who attended Stanford, Harvard, M.I.T. and Columbia, but they have a remarkably similar mindset to the tech entrepreneurs who form successful startups. These are Urban Entrepreneurs. If you live in any American city, chances are you either know an Urban Entrepreneur personally, or you are one. This group of entrepreneurs has very little access to the tech startups blossoming right down the street, but they have an intricate knowledge of customers’ pain points and a mindset that allows them to flourish under uncertain conditions.
This led us to ask ourselves an important question: Are these ‘startup boom towns’ simply repeating the pattern of the ‘Tale of Two Cities’ by overlooking a surplus of entrepreneurial potential on the other side of town? And if so, what can we do to prevent that old pattern from repeating itself in this Techcentury?