Startup Cities

  • Posted by on November 23rd, 2014 at 10:53 am

A lot of cities in the Midwest are trying to jumpstart startup ecosystems.  I echo Brad Feld’s sentiments in his book Startup Communities, and prefer when these sorts of things happen organically.  Great startup cities are entrepreneur lead, not financier lead or government lead.

Chicago has an entrepreneurial movement going that I have been active in.  You can see the companies that I have written checks to here.  If you want to participate in a local startup ecosystem without investing a penny, here is what you can do:

  • Become a customer of a startup
  • Make a free introduction to a potential customer (use your rolodex and network)
  • Mentor.  Freely share your expertise with startup teams.
  • Tell your friends about local startups.  Talk about it.  Get them to take action.
  • Actively use local startup apps, and give them constructive feedback

Recently, Jay Swoboda, the CEO of Dabble was quoted in TechCocktail’s Regional Accelerator Report talking about the startup ecosystems in Austin, Detroit, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Denver.   Dabble is active in St. Louis and Denver.  His insight,

The St. Louis accelerator scene isn’t that old, but that’s because the tech entrepreneur scene is pretty young, too. Despite its age, St. Louis’s tech ecosystem has not just grown over the past few years – it actually blew up.

Jay Swoboda, the CEO of Dabble, has been living in St. Louis since 1997, working downtown since 2004. He’s seen transformations, as have the majority of city inhabitants, in the physical environment – from the vacant buildings to a new sculpture garden. Since the launch of Capital Innovators, he’s seen new energy, resources, and funding opportunities develop; this first accelerator (founded in 2012) was the key to success for the city.

Dabble received an Arch Grant for $50,000 and Jay has done a good job of building the Dabble business since he took over.  If you are in a town that has Dabble, give it a try. If you don’t have Dabble in your town, send an email to Jay and he’ll see if he can get you started.



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