We have all heard of the incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem in San Francisco. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco, thanks to angel investor Jason Calacanis who was kind enough to invite hundreds of founders (free access) to his two-day conference SCALE, which boasted 3,000 investors, founders and potential entrepreneurs in attendance. It gave me the opportunity experience first-hand the lesser-known facts about San Francisco that cultivate startup success stories.
“Fostering entrepreneurship has become a core component of economic development in cities and countries around the world. The predominant metaphor for fostering entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy is the ‘entrepreneurship ecosystem.'”
Here’s a look at three things that thriving entrepreneurship ecosystems have in common; and after experiencing them in San Francisco, they left quite an impression on me.
They embrace technology.
When I arrived in San Francisco, I realized that public transport was not as well connected as New York city. My commute involved taking the BART train
to travel from my friend’s house in San Mateo, to the city. However, on getting to the city, it was challenging to commute between locations for meetings.
I was then advised to user Uber Pool, which costs $7 for each ride. It was incredible to see how the entire city and its professionals be it youth, corporate professionals or startup folks had embraced technology in their daily lives. You may know how big a startup or service is, but you only experience this when you get to the Bay Area!
This also revealed to me how a city and its residents have readily embraced technology and allowed for it to birth solutions that may not be readily be available and may take government officials and corporations an indefinite time to provide.
They thrive on collaboration.
Prior to the conference, Jason set up a Slack channel for all attendees to get introduced, search recommendations and foster outreach. This turned out to be a
genius move. During the conference, a number of individuals were taking detailed notes from panel discussions and sharing resources.
Jason was approachable, transparent and encouraged participation, which is what led to the success of the event. I also got the opportunity to meet with founders of LeadIQ, RedClay, Pakible, Pana, VetPronto, interviewing.io and AutoFi, (which are also some of the startups I have invested in). Founders from most of these startups also attended the conference, which gave them an opportunity to interact and brainstorm on potential collaborations.
The overall vibe reflected the spirit of what makes SF such a great place for startups to seed and grow.
They build community culture.
For those who aren’t familiar, Wefunder is a crowdfunding platform that allows accredited investors to invest in startups. As part of their community building exercise, they host bi-weekly dinners for startups and investors to attend and meet in a relaxed
I was invited to one of their dinners and had the opportunity to meet the Wefunder team (and they were kind enough to cook a meal for all of their guests, by themselves). It was an incredible experience … being around folks who have been working passionately on achieving a vision, sharing ideas, growth hacks and more.
My experience interacting with investors, their inclination to hear (and test) new ideas, kind gestures to make introductions and their commitment to back youth has made me reconsider living in New York.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sohin Shah is an entrepreneur and one of the early adopters of crowdfunding. He successfully crowdfunded Valuation App from 57 backers in 2012 and went on to start iFunding which is now one of the leading real estate crowdfunding platforms in the world. He is extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and loves discussing new ideas. Connect with @SohinShah1 on Twitter.
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