Many people engage with their local startup community, and plenty more don’t. There’s many reasons these people may not engage. In this article, I explain why they should.
People who don’t join a startup community use reasons, such as;
- There is nothing to gain from the time invested;
- People in the community will steal their idea;
- The startup they are working on is unique, and;
- The startup community are not their ideal customers.
They’re mistaken, and they are missing some great opportunities. Here’s why.
What is a startup community?
A startup community is a group of entrepreneurs or startup folk who focus on innovation. These communities often engage in formal and informal meet ups, such as physical meetings, Slack channels, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and mailing lists.
These physical and virtual places contain both new and seasoned startup founders, entrepreneurs, investors and others, and can be a powerful network for you to engage with.
Here are five reasons why you should join a startup community in your area (or a virtual community).
Learn from experienced founders
If you’re new to the startup world, joining your local startup community is an essential step towards your success.
People who have been in the trenches before you, often have valuable advice to give. You may feel your situation is unique, yet I disagree.
You could be facing an issue with customer validation, marketing concerns, product development or something else. I can assure you that it is likely you’ll find someone in the ecosystem who has been there before you.
Have a read of my article, Why You Shouldn’t Ask Friends or Family for Startup Feedback [& Better Ways] – you could be using your local community to help with validation, rather than biased friends.
Find potential customers
I have had contacts in the local startup community refer their customers to me, and even result in being customers themselves.
You may assume most people in the startup community are busy building their own products or businesses, and don’t have time to help.
What you will find is that many people are also employed by larger businesses, which may be your ideal customer.
Network for investment opportunities
Whilst I haven’t gone looking for investment myself, I have been approached if I plan to raise any time soon. In exchange I have connected those with investment funds to those who need them.
Even if you are bootstrapping your startup, you never know when your focus may change; these investor or angel contacts are very valuable to have.
Find others to partner with
Getting involved in the startup community can provide fantastic opportunities to partner with other startups which can further advance both businesses success.
It could be partnering through marketing, through to offering opportunities to each others customer bases.
Give more than you receive
The golden rule of networking in the startup community, is to always give more than you receive. That is, you should offer advice and suggestions to others, with zero expectation of return.
You will often find by providing this help with no strings attached, that you end up benefiting as well. I frequently offer advice or assistance where I can, and in exchange I have a network of people who help me with advice, referrals and more.
— Charlie Gunningham (@ChazGunningham) February 8, 2017
What about those initial concerns I mentioned?
There is nothing to gain from the time invested
Sure, you may find some events or online communities not useful, yet without engaging, how would you know where to spend your time? It needn’t be the burden of hours or days per week – put in whatever time you feel comfortable with.
People in the community will steal their idea
This is such a false idea. Many people in the startup community are already working on their own ideas, and aren’t interested in taking on more. You’ll find that ideas are plenty – it’s the team and execution which matters.
The startup they are working on is unique
Sure, it may be a unique product or concept, but I can assure you, the general framework won’t be unique. There are only so many different business models out there; it is very likely someone similar is within your reach.
The startup community are not their ideal customers
That can be true, but as I mentioned above, they may currently be employed part or full time with your perfect customer – or can introduce you to someone who is. My business has enjoyed some new customers this way.
How to find your startup community
If you aren’t yet involved with your local community, here are a few ways you can find one.
Local startup communities
If you know any other startup founders in your city, they are often the best people to ask. If not, try searching for accelerators or co-working spaces in your local area, and ask.
Many co-working spaces list regular events on their website – try going along to a few and see what happens.
Searching MeetUp.com is also a very handy way for finding informal groups that meet nearby.
Worst case, try searching for ‘entrepreneur group [your city name]’.
Virtual startup communities
There are a multitude of startup communities online. They often centre around real time tools, such as Slack teams, or use the groups feature on Facebook or LinkedIn.
See this fantastic list of 100+ Slack Communities for a Startup CEO.
By joining a virtual or local startup community, you create great opportunities in many ways for both yourself and your startup.
Remember to offer genuine help to others with no expectation of return. Being genuinely helpful often results in a great return.