A lot of times building a startup can feel like you're the only person on an island. It's like you're trying to build a boat out of the few trees around you and you keep reading articles and watching Youtube videos on how to build a better boat.
Then you realize that nobody has ever really built the specific type of boat that you're building. But even then, everyone has a unique story as to how their boat got built, and it never really seems like that way would work for you.
Okay this analogy has kind of gotten out of hand, but I think you kind of catch my drift.
Be The Change You Want To See
Being a founder can be a lonely experience, and if you're not in a place with an abundance of resources, like Silicon Valley, it can really feel, well, like the analogy above.
Cities across the country are working hard to become thriving tech ecosystems and although their work has made a noticeable difference, there is still some clear room for growth. While individuals often wait for growth to take place organically, growth is usually the result of very intentional actions.
In the wonderful city of Newark, New Jersey where our startup resides, we realized that we were lacking a founder community. A central time and location for us to sit down, share ideas, opportunities and get feedback. To touch back on the analogy used at the top of this article, we needed a place for everyone to help each other build their boats. While networking events helped us meet each other, they were not always conducive to helping us further our businesses. So we decided to be the change we wanted to see.
Together We Have The Relationships And Connections
This past week we had our first ever 'Founders Cafe'. For my musicians out there, it's pretty much like an Open Mic, but for founders. Everyone takes the time to talk and discuss what their most pressing issues are and the founders in the room put their heads together to create a solution based on their past "boat-building" experiences. We realized very quickly that while we might not all have the industry-specific knowledge to help each other, together we have the relationships and connections to facilitate introductions and make a difference.
In a single two hour session we had new investor meetings scheduled, applications for different competitions shared, breakthroughs established, and business to business partnerships discussed.
The Best Way To Obtain Resources....
Anthony Frasier, tech entrepreneur and author of Don't Dumb Down Your Greatness once said it best, the best way to obtain resources is to be a resource. And by bringing together our community we were able to enhance everybody's resource pool and consequently enhance everyone's ability to build their boat. (I know I keep using that analogy, but it still makes sense!).
In places where Founder communities are small, this opportunity to foster intimate discussions flips a negative into a positive. No matter where you are, utilizing the knowledge of the companies in your area will be your greatest x-factor to getting to your goal.