Activating Potential Founders

For the last 15 years we’ve been debating and experimenting with how to grow a startup community. From events to co-working to funding, we’ve tried thousands of ideas. One area that’s under-served is getting potential founders off the sidelines. I believe there are significantly more would-be founders that can build successful companies than are doing so. We need to increase the starting of startups.

Here are some questions we’re asking about how to activate potential founders:

  • What’s holding potential founders back from starting a company?
  • What’s needed from an education, skills, funding, and community perspective?
  • How do we elevate entrepreneurship in the city to make it more top-of-mind?
  • How do we get more people thinking about entrepreneurship in high school or college?
  • How do we get more people with existing careers working on side hustles that could lead to a startup?
  • How do we get existing companies to embrace local startups?

The rise of remote work due to COVID, especially in the startup world, has removed one of the traditional push backs: how are you going to find the talent to scale? Talent is more distributed than ever. While founders can also be anywhere, it behooves our community to have them here to create jobs (some of them, anyway), grow wealth, and give back. Plus, it’s more fun face-to-face. Let’s have the founders be local and the team be anywhere.

While we love when entrepreneurs move to the region, the most opportunity to grow our startup community is getting potential founders into the arena. 

What should we be doing? How do we activate more potential founders?

3 thoughts on “Activating Potential Founders

  1. I’ve been working with Atlanta startups through various parts of the ecosystem for about seven years now. I’d like to see more support, as in a forum or group or community, for consultants who are doing paid work for these startups, as well as more introductions to those founders. I think we encourage lots of founders in Atlanta–the difference between Atlanta and SV, and it is very real, is the general lack of funding or revenue that Atlanta startups tend to have. A healthy middle, of companies who are in startup mode and doing $1-5MM ARR, are what is needed to truly transform the space, and part of that is a way to work closely with these companies offering high-powered help on a fractional basis. It’s what the Valley does, after all. Love to talk to anyone who needs transformational help with product strategy, insight, and/or growth.

    Troy Winfrey 404.906.8071 (cell)

  2. It’s all about exposing potential founders to existing founders. But that is really hard as the best existing founders are busy! What I and a few founder friends in NYC do is started having an hour of virtual office hours anyone can come to and ask questions and get to know how we founded our companies. Try to be as vulnerable as possible.

  3. My thoughts!

    1. Finding potential founders – starting with side hustlers – and putting them into this founder-encouragement funnel
    2. Building potential-founder confidence – speaking just for myself, it took me years to feel like I could actually do it.
    2. Teaching them how to get fast validation on a concept (vs spend years building the perfect product) – MVPs are well socialized… this goes beyond that as an idea, and requires building muscle memory for this shitty-first-draft + iteration cycle.
    3. Placing them in the stream of startup activity so they’re more able to: find funding, find co-founders, accelerate their rate of learning, and ultimately jump ship to diving in on a startup.

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