City started small to lure biz startups

It wasn’t accomplished by a top-down plan. Boulder’s emergence as a startup mecca, heralded most recently in a Washington Post column by Vivek Wadhwa, instead was an organic evolution initiated by entrepreneurs and fed by venture capitalists and other support sectors.

“This is the type of tech center that government officials dream about building,” Wadhwa writes.

Boulder has achieved a great deal of national press in recent years, including a 2010 New York Times article and a BusinessWeek article that same year by Wadhwa naming Boulder the nation’s “best town for startups.”

That notoriety is about to get even more pronounced, with the preorder release of local entrepreneur Brad Feld’s latest book, “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.” Feld has been speaking widely on the topic, including at the Bixpo trade show this past week in Loveland.

So how did Boulder develop a startup culture that has become the envy of cities across the country? Wadhwa summarizes Feld’s thoughts: It all began with the entrepreneur, who must lead the effort with a long-term view. Support sectors such as accountants, lawyers, governments, chambers of commerce, venture-capital firms, universities and others help build that community, but it starts and builds with the entrepreneur.

Feld also notes that startup communities must be inclusive, embracing anyone who wants to support the entrepreneurial culture. Equally important are activities that build on the startup culture. Think TechStars, Startup Week or other activities.

It’s an impressive analysis. Sometimes, when you’re living in a forest, you don’t understand the dynamics of the ecosystem around you. Feld has given Boulder Valley residents a chance to rise to 10,000 feet to get the big picture.

If we better understand what got us here, we can help foster that ecosystem even more.

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