INCUBATORS

The Power of Many

Why company founders shouldn't isolate themselves as they build.
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Cohort 4 of our seed investment program kicked off two weeks ago with six brand new companies and 20 co-founders. Three groups moved here--from New York City; Palo Alto, California; and Washington, D.C.--to join, and three are local to the Raleigh/Durham area. Our program trend continues to show more experienced founders and more experienced companies.

Each cohort is different--each has a different personality. So far this class seems to understand and embrace the power of many. Maybe it is the experience driving this behavior.

I have written about socializing your idea to as many people as possible. That is the power of many at a very basic level. In a recent post I talked about finding a "valley of sorrow" mentor you can trust and with whom you can simply share your fears. That is the power of a few but on its way to many.

However, there is something special in a program like ours when the teams seem to feed off each other. We encourage it in the configuration of our space (common-area tables to work at, combined with plenty of small huddle rooms to use when privacy is needed). It seems to happen at some level with each cohort but early in this class we may be seeing a new level. Like a DEFCON 2 kind of level.

In the first two weeks I have witnessed founders helping one another with specific tech problems. We had one founder gather a few of our launch-announcement press releases and blog posts for all to upvote on various sites and publications. Best of all, I've seen founders being genuinely excited about each other’s progress.

This does not happen while you are working in the basement. It typically can't happen in generic co-working spaces. It certainly works poorly in small office settings that incentivize closed-door work habits.

This only happens when you create an environment that creates, supports, and embraces the power of many. Look around and see where you can insert yourself into an everyday space that has this philosophy at its core.

Last updated: Oct 24, 2013

CHRIS HEIVLY | Columnist | Managing Director

Chris Heivly was a co-founder of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B), sole managing director of 77 Capital (a $25 million venture fund) and has been an executive at five software companies. He is currently one of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory, a seed investment fund making 10 to 14 new investments per year. In addition to TSF, Chris is the founder of the Big Top Job Fair and a national writer and speaker about startups and startup communities.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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