How To Help Startup Ecosystems: Be An Early Adopter

Written By: Dharmesh Shah November 27, 2012

The following is a guest post by Sravish Sridhar. Sravish is the Founder and CEO of Kinvey, a Backend as a Service platform that makes it easy for developers to setup and operate backends for mobile, tablet and web apps. He is a believer in mentor-backed entrepreneurship and you can follow Sravish on Twitter - @sravishsridhar.

I just finished reading Brad Feld’s new book, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in your City. In it, Brad states that sustainable entrepreneurial communities must have:

  • Active entrepreneurs who will be the leaders to drive the community forward,
  • A long-term view and commitment to build the community,
  • A continual set of activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack, and
  • An inherent view of inclusiveness that ensures that anyone is welcome to participate -- not just entrepreneurs.describe the image

On a similar theme, Mark Suster, in a guest post in TechCrunch, adds that a successful startup community must also have a strong pool of tech founders, capital, well-attended events, great local universities, vocal champions, vibrant local press, etc.

Despite embodying all the traits that Brad and Mark have outlined, I’ve repeatedly seen Boston, my current hometown, suffer from the burden of constantly justifying itself to the world as a thriving startup community. I’ve concluded that there is one more essential ingredient Boston needs to be a successful startup community – Boston needs early adopter DNA, especially to try early-stage, Boston-built, startup products.

If we could successfully mutate the startup gene of the Boston startup community to introduce early adopter DNA, we would create a huge advantage for startups that are built here. Their launches will be “buzzier,” their products will get traction faster, and most importantly, the companies will enjoy informed feedback from key members of its own community. Feedback and buzz from early adoption is an invaluable asset for any startup, and we can give them that.

For Boston (or any startup community) to have early adopter DNA, it needs its startup leaders and the extended community that supports the ecosystem to do three things –

1. Be Curious: We need to collectively spend more time seeking out new startups and learning about their products. Follow key Boston startup community leaders on Twitter like Dharmesh ShahMatt LauzonKatie RaeJennifer LumDavid CancelFred DestinRich MinerAntonio RodriguezRob GoDavid SkokJeff Bussgang, etc.  Read Scott Kirsner in the Boston Globe, BostInnoXconomy and the Boston Business Journal.  Learn, learn and learn!

I could go on and on. In Cambridge alone, there are hundreds of startups in a one-mile radius. And Boston has hundreds more. Ask yourself, how many of their products have you used?

2. Be Adventurous: When you read or hear about a new Boston startup, don’t hesitate - sign up and try its product. There are startups in Boston that cater to your every need -
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3. Be TalkativeTrying a startup’s product is only the beginning. To truly become a vibrant entrepreneurial scene, we also need to support fellow startups with word of mouth. Tell your friends about your favorite local products, tweet and share your experience on Facebook. Better yet, blog about it.

Help your following become Curious and Adventurous. And don’t forget to share your product feedback with the startups behind the product. I can assure you that every startup wants to hear about your experience with their product, it’s how we will improve.

If we seek out innovation, are willing to kick the tires of early stage products, and be vocal about our experiences, Boston will become a stronger startup community. The ripples from this early adopter DNA being put into practice will encourage more people from the broader community to do the same, and I assure you, we will all be stronger for it.

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