Building a Startup Community In Your City

Building a Startup Community In Your City

– Three strategies to quickly create a startup community in your city. That’s what this video is about. If you’re starting off, or you’ve been in your city for a while, and you feel like you don’t
know anybody like you, then this video is for you. It’s something I’m
ridiculously passionate about and something I discovered a few years ago when I moved back from
living in San Francisco to a small town in Canada where
I grew up, to raise my kids. I realized I knew more entrepreneurs in every other city in the world than I did in the city I was living in. After a year of finally figuring out the routine and schedules with my kids, I thought to myself, I’ve got
to get to know more people. So I went on a mission. First, it started off
with a Facebook post. I posted on Facebook, who do you know, who are
some of the entrepreneurs that are growth-minded that
you admire in this city? And I was really surprised that there wasn’t a lot of responses. There was maybe a half
a dozen names mentioned, but I figured there’s got to be hundreds, I mean, I live in a town
with a 100,000 people, they’ve got to live here. And I started picking up the
phone and calling people, and I quickly realized
that nobody had the list, so I wanted to create the list. The list of the people, to me growth-minded meant that you had aspirations
to double your business within the next three years. So, I started building this spreadsheet, and over a three week period, I cold called 179 entrepreneurs. I wanted to get to know them. I got their names. I sent these cold emails
that pretty much said, hey, I’m Dan Martell,
here’s my cell number, I’ve got a quick question, I’m free now if you have five minutes. And people would actually
respond, it was ridiculous. And I sent this to some of the most notable entrepreneurs in the city. And what I was trying to accomplish is just try to understand their story. What were they passionate about, why did they start that business? It was really important for me to find people that I shared values with so that I could then
invite them to something. And what I did is I created an event and I would suggest, this is the first thing I’m
going to suggest that you do, you can create a dinner or an event, but you can also create
both, at the same thing. So what I did is I created an event. I called it the East Coast Kitchen Party and it was 48 people that I
felt needed to know each other. Out of those 179 conversations, I whittled it down to 48 people and I created these tables of eight. And it was a dinner, and I
promised them three things. One, amazing food. Two, incredible people
that you’re going to meet that you don’t know. And three, a speaker
that’s going to amazing. So regardless if the food was bad, a guarantee the speaker’s
going to be amazing, but I knew all three
were going to be great. And I did charge them like 80 bucks just to cover my costs because I wanted to get them committed. And I brought those people together and I’ll tell you what happened
as a result was incredible. We had an amazing speaker, a woman named Shaa Wasmund. If you don’t know her, check out She came in and she delivered a message about how we really need to
start looking at the community and giving back, and people
that have had success need to take an active role in mentoring and sharing with others and she challenged
everybody at that dinner per table, before the night was done, to agree on a date and a
location, a restaurant, to meet again in the future
over the next four weeks, and everybody committed to doing that. I can’t tell you the impact
that it had in our community and personally on my life. Where now I feel I have a peer group of people that I never met before that are now good friends, people that I recently
took vacations with, people that I call when
I’m having a struggle and I want to bounce some ideas off of, and I feel like I’ve really
found a new sense of community in the city that I grew up in. And I want to share with you
guys those three strategies in this video. The number one is
obviously create an event. Figure out either a dinner,
it could be eight people, it could be as elaborate
as I did with 48 people, it could be maybe just a meetup, a technology meetup with
other tech entrepreneurs, whatever it is, just create some opportunity, some reason to reach out to people and bring them together. The second is, reach out to notable people. People in your community
that own the car dealership, own the malls, people that you read
about in the newspaper, older people, I call them the elders. Folks that you may not necessarily have a chance to come
across throughout your day because I feel like those are the people that have experience, that have been building companies, maybe second, third
generational type companies that really have a passion for upstarts, people that are just getting going and bring those people together, so notable people are really important, they’re part of the, to me, the ingredients that need to
go into creating this event to make it spectacular. And the third thing, I think
that is most important, is to play matchmaker. One of the things that I love
to do when I organize dinners, I did a video recently on
creating Founders Dinners, is I love to introduce people that I know should know each other
but haven’t met yet. So what I did when I created this dinner, is I asked them, hey, do you know this notable
person, that notable person, usually the answer came back, well, I know of them,
but I’ve never met them. So what I did is I put
them together at a table. I really tried, and this is though, because again, I come from a small town and there’s only a handful of growth-oriented entrepreneurs. I really tried to make sure
that people at the table at least 50% of those people
out of eight, so four, they didn’t know it
would be the first time they met those people. And I even assigned a moderator, there’s a bit more structure, but I really don’t think
it matters as much as creating the event, reaching
out to notable people, and playing matchmaker during the dinner. And it could be as
simple, again, as a dinner or as elaborate as an even like I did. Doing that for you, as an
entrepreneur, in your community, will really help you create that sense of community especially when you don’t
feel like you know people or you’re having a challenge it gives you a reason to kind of bring people together and create a lot of value for everybody. I don’t think there’s one
person that would have said that that wasn’t one of the most
spectacular nights of the month, if not their year, I know it was one of the number
one things I did that year that really helped me feel a new connection for my
city and my community and an opportunity to give
back to a lot of people that had gave back to me, all these notable entrepreneurs, even though they weren’t
official mentors of mine, what they created in this part
of the world that I’m from, really inspired me to go
out and live a bigger life. And that’s what I want to
challenge with you guys, is to live a bigger life
and a bigger business. I want to thank you guys
for watching this video. Leave me a comment below. If you plan on organizing
something like this, to create a startup community, let me know what it’s going to look like, if you’ve done this, tell the story in the comments below. I read every one of them, and I respond. I would love to hear from you, and I’m excited that you’re
here watching these videos, I’m really grateful and I’ll see you next Monday.

8 thoughts on “Building a Startup Community In Your City

  1. Dear Dan thanks for sharing your knowledge and lovely dinner experience. Like to learn more from your experience about the real chances of startups to succeed in supportive environment

  2. Love it! Nothing better that bringing people together in your community with the desire to make our city a better place to live. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Last night, I did my first Founders/Investors Dinner. Invited 6. 4 Showed up. Food was great. Everyone left with great value. and I was able to query what their top frustrations were in life. and learned alot as well.

    Thanks Dan! Great Idea!! Especially, if you are a recovering introvert 🙂

  4. I was thinking of doing the same thing in my City, Montreal. Create a small gathering for eCommerce Directors, Executives so that we can talk about our challenges.

  5. hello i liked your video but the question here is i m on starting stage of building business and still studying in college and haven't organised any event so i have to do with local enterprenuer

  6. Great tips! Bookmarking this! Creating events is probably the best approach to this, a little bit of time to get things together, but the yield would be much greater than just attending a round table.

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