Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Build A Local Startup Community in Flagler County

Ky Ekinci : Co-Founder Office Divvyby Ky Ekinci | Co-Founder, Office Divvy
published on Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Connect:  Ky on Twitter  |  Office Divvy on Twitter  |  On Facebook

The "Flagler County Economic Development Summit" concluded on May 13.   A document compiled by the 5 focus groups was presented on the final meeting.  The five focus groups were:
  • Robust Entrepreneurial Environment & Organic Growth
  • Linked Responsive Talent Delivery
  • Maximize Regionalism
  • Strong Target Industry Investments
  • Exceptional Customer Service

Here is the Flagler County Economic Development Summit Presentation as presented on May 13th; which is a compilation of individual focus group suggestions: 

You may notice that the ideas are not perfectly harmonious.  In that sense, it perhaps is a good beginning than a final product, i.e. a clear road map to success.  But it's important to celebrate the effort, and it did take serious effort.

I was involved in the first group to work on "Creating a Robust Entrepreneurial Environment and Organic Growth."

I'm sorry to say that we perhaps missed an opportunity in the focus group I was a member of, to truly champion ideas involving Promoting Entrepreneurship and Encouraging a Startup Culture as a part of this group's suggestions.  Instead a different route was chosen as a collective, which you may have seen in the above presentation.

Flagler County Economic Development Summit - May 13, 2011

Going back to the idea of How to Build A Startup Community... Just as the "Economic Development Summit" was concluding in Bunnell on Friday the 13th, Mashable (the powerful technology-and-web-news portal), published an interesting article titled: How to Build A Local Startup Community by Travis Oberlander.

Mashable article puts forth 5 tips for creating/building a local startup community:

1. Don’t Try to be Silicon Valley:
This tip makes a point to embrace the uniqueness of one's city or community. Don't try to be some other community you are not.  Instead, focus on what your region is known for and involve the leaders of those industries in the Startup ecosystem.

2. Work Openly
This tip is all about the Coworking phenomenon, which is a tremendous trend in Web and Technology Startup as well as Young Entrepreneur and Creative/Technical Professionals circles.  If done right, coworking spaces become incubators and startup accelarators for new businesses and help drive job growth in the area. At Office Divvy, we have been doing coworking and holding free coworking jellies since 2008, which was the breeding ground to many entrepreneurial connections.

3. Get Creative With Regular Events
In the Palm Coast and Flagler County landscape Mixers and After-Hours parties are plenty. They are familiar concepts, easy to host, and easy to attend.  However they become monotonous as easily, and are not always the best environment for building relationships. Meetups, tweetups, coworking jellies, startup weekends and any event that thinks outside of the box are more attractive for the startup community.

4. Find a Local Evangelist
Instead of (okay maybe it's more appropriate to say in addition to) tooting the horn of government organizations and public-private partnerships, recognizing the local entrepreneurs who are dedicated to spreading the word about our community. Embrace what they’re trying to do and support their efforts. These people will attract fresh talent and reach out to leaders elsewhere to promote your engaged and thriving community.  Influential bloggers, and strong local twitter users/influencers also fall into this category.  

5. Pay it Forward
Realize that as a community we are all in this together. Openly support new entrepreneurs or startups in need of help, and that includes my original idea which I proposed to the focus group: A Pledge to Entrepreneurs and Startups by the Flagler County and the Cities in this county.  Also support and celebrate the successes of others. Sometimes all it takes is one success to raise the tide for others.

Travis Oberlander says:
  There’s never been a better time to foster a local startup community. With the right ingredients of dedication, collaboration evangelism and support, you’ll set your startup ecosystem on a path for continuing success for decades to come."
I wholeheartedly believe in that...


  1.  Ky, I applaud you for participating in the process in your own community. It's important, even when it doesn't come out your way. (I have to work hard to remember this, myself.) 

    Taking your comments on the five steps, I think you have a great starting place to build your own group of interested people. Together, you can make a big difference in building that startup community. 

  2.  ..thank you very much Becky!  My ideas include getting you here one of these days (hopefully soon). :)