Idaho Technology

Matt Rissell: Boise aims to nurture Valley entrepreneur community

ITC executive committee member and CEO of TsheetsDecember 3, 2013 

Members of the Idaho Technology Council believe that Boise has a lot to offer prospective entrepreneurs and that fostering the startup community can bring significant payoffs in new business development and overall economic growth. However, to create a sustainable ecosystem for startups, this fertile ground needs to be cultivated. That’s why the ITC stands in full support of StartupBoise, a new grass-roots organization led by entrepreneurs.

Pat Lawless, the founder of StartupBoise, realized the need to create an organization specifically intended to foster the growth of startups through a chance meeting at last year’s ITC Hall of Fame. Lawless had the opportunity to meet keynote speaker Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group and one of the thought-leaders credited with transforming Boulder, Colo., into one of the hottest tech centers in the United States. From that meeting, Lawless learned about some of the best practices for creating a community that supports entrepreneurs and was inspired to create StartupBoise to apply some of Feld’s guiding principles in the Boise entrepreneur community. Statewide development could follow.

Lawless strongly believes in Boise’s potential as a startup community, and our city has already made national headlines for key metrics that rank the capital as fertile ground for new startups. This April, Boise was ranked as the No. 1 state for overall business friendliness by the Kauffman Foundation and in June was ranked as No. 7 Most Entrepreneurial State by CNN Money. However, StartupBoise believes that the city’s entrepreneurial potential needs to be fostered, which is why it has ambitious goals to help grow Idaho startups.

StartupBoise seeks to foster the development of entrepreneurs through providing a mentorship network of seasoned business leaders. StartupBoise also intends to support community events that already engage entrepreneurs and to create future events that support the growth of the startup community.

One future event being planned is to bring Pacific Northwest investors to a two-day startup pitch competition and conference that will showcase the great activity taking place in Idaho. Finally, StartupBoise seeks to avoid duplication of resources through serving as a connecting organization that allows tech companies to tap into existing resources provided by other organizations, such as the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho SBDC, Idaho Technology Council and Kickstand.

Since its launch, StartupBoise has been well received. Its monthly signature event, Startups & Beers, allows entrepreneurs to gather to share ideas, network and learn from a prominent entrepreneur in the community. The strong turnout at each Startup & Beers event demonstrates how local entrepreneurs find value from free access to resources, networking and expertise. In order to keep momentum, however, StartupBoise needs sustained community support.

If you want to support StartupBoise, there are several ways to get involved. The organization has several volunteer-run committees that focus on different aspects of fostering a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as education, mentorship and community. We also have an urgent need for business mentors willing to set aside monthly time to meet with other entrepreneurs and share their experiences.

Because StartupBoise is a grassroots organization, the involvement of the community is critical. Building a strong entrepreneurial community requires the support of all stakeholders. By working together, we can revitalize Boise’s startup ecosystem and create a better economic future for Idaho.

matt@tsheets.com, 287-4103

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