Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Startup Lancaster: 17 Startup Founders walk into a bar...

Startup ecosystem? What ecosystem?

Well, it turns out there is one. And we are it. Or part of it, anyway.

Last night, 17 startup founders from in and around Lancaster spent 3 hours together for the first time. We talked about obstacles and challenges we face, gave each other advice, and listened to each other.

The main obstacles? Capital and talent. We talked about why Dave and I at ChiliSoft and Jesse and CoTweet left the area (and sold for what, $30 million within a year?). Two young founders talked about moving to San Francisco, though they don't have product yet (I advised them to stick around until they have a basic app and users, at least).

I'm one of the people considering leaving the area to build my startup. But you really don't have to leave. The bias toward certain areas has more to do with 1) flight time for board meetings and 2) social capital in the tech centers. But if you have a small team in the tech centers, you can do very well with affordable production elsewhere, like in Lancaster where you can get office space for under $10/sf.

The startups ranged from a profitable mobile music app to a daily deals app to undisclosed ideas to team-building app to algae generator (great idea). And with great restraint, I did not show Jawaya, which we're about to throw into closed beta.

We also took about 15 minutes to see Dave Weaver demo his new app logging & analytics platform Loggr, which is really great and very broad in its applicability. I think it will be a hit.

If you know startups in the area, please tell them about StartupLancaster. We'll even have a site by the end of the day--it's simply that amazing. This internet thing is gonna be big.

The bottom line is this: we have an ecosystem, just not a complete one yet. We need this:
  • startups supporting startups
  • more startups to come out of the woodwork
  • better scheduling so we don't conflict with John Caddell's NewTech Meetup
  • capital that flows like water
  • ways of finding and developing talent
  • liberal use of social capital: share our networks and connections, and honor the gift of social capital that others give us
  • execution & focus
I really enjoyed getting to know people. And of course I liked giving advice to startups without a clue, because just about everything I said applies to me too. 

Ok, back to the grindstone--time to dig in. 

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