A friend of mine said this to me today:
I’m a big Brad Feld fan, and he makes a point of saying out startup ecosystems have to be led by entrepreneurs, not investors. That makes you one of the most important people in town! (no pressure …) I love what Start Garden is doing, but entrepreneurs gotta lead. We’re all looking up to you …
I’m also a huge Brad Feld fan (check out his post on this topic if you haven’t yet. I’ll be here when you get back), and I remember agreeing wholeheartedly with this idea when he talked with Grand Rapids via Google Hangout in the Spring. I would argue that there are a large, large number of entrepreneurs more successful than I in Grand Rapids, but the concept is dead on. And hearing it again like it was the first time hit me like a punch in the gut, particularly since I’ve been so head’s down recently in growing VNN.
Yeah, I’ve been working hard. But in another way, equally important but different, I’ve been slacking.
To illustrate: the StartGarden grand opening event this weekend was actually my first time being at a gathering of entrepreneurs in at least 90 days. That sucks, especially for someone who likes startups as much as I do.
Yes, I think there are times when you absolutely need to barrel through. Like when you’ve just closed a round by promising the world, and now you have to deliver.
But in doing so it’s also important to recognize the cost, to yourself and the place you call home.
I have no illusions that I have gotten where I am on my own, so I know the vital importance of the ecosystem lifting the entrepreneur to new heights. I have an ironic amount of people to thank for my company.
I’m privileged to be a part of the renaissance of Grand Rapids, and while StartGarden is certainly taking a leadership role, my friend was right. It’s up to us to lead.