Having an inclusive startup community not only means being accepting of new members or changes in the the network, it means pro-actively creating a variety of opportunities to allow new members to connect to the network in a manner most comfortable to them.
When planning events we should obviously consider the entire entrepreneurial stack (first time entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, wantrepreneurs etc), but to be part of a larger ecosystem should be reaching further. I think the startup community must learn to speak to 5 audiences.
From top to bottom:
1. Startups: This is our internal community, as described in my last post Startup Community: Network. It encompasses the entire entrepreneural stack. Aruguably, #LeanCoffeeKL, MetaBridge, Startup Weekend and an assortment of Accelerate Okanagan’s events speak to this community.
2. Current Tech Community: Digital Okanagan, OKDG, OKTechEvents and other general tech forae are included here. These are the people we are already reaching.
3. Wider Tech Community: This is the silent majority. These are the hackers in the basement, developers in big companies or the potentially hundreds of startups in the Okanagan Valley that for some reason do not come out to participate in the established events. We must ask ourselves: how can we accommodate these people better?
4. Kelowna: Does the citizenry of Kelowna know that we have a startup community in town? Do they know to take friends from out of town to St. Paul St? What can we do to engage the wider community and let them know we are here, and earn their pride?
5. The World: Making the world know about Kelowna’s startup community is not only good for the public relations of the city as a whole, but helps the narrower startup community attract investors and talent from outside of the local community.
When conducting our current events and creating new events we need to think about how to engage each of these audiences. I am not talking about making sure our events are general enough to attract people from across the spectrum. That is how you get bland events that attract only self-marketing service providers. Rather, we must focus our event planning to target each level. In my next post I will lay out some ideas for events to engage each of these audiences, and hopefully answer some of the questions posed above.