Building up Canada’s entrepreneurial chops will be about creating a network of entrepreneurs that can collaborate to solve big problems.
What do entrepreneurs need in their local region to have a good chance at success? Well one thing that helps is having other entrepreneurs.
You might think that not having other entrepreneurs around could be a good thing – other startup businesses mean you have to compete for time with mentors, to recruit the best talent in the area, to get attention from investors, and for consumers to buy your product or service. But research into the area shows the contrary is more likely true, that having a concentration of entrepreneurs in a certain area leads to spontaneous collaboration and serves to attract more funding and attention to everyone involved.
In the Financial Post today, Rick Spence tells us why The Next 36 program is important for all Canadian Entrepreneurs. This Toronto-based program seeks to take Canada’s most promising and innovative undergraduate students and provide them with mentorship, funding for tuition costs, and support for beginning their own venture. Importantly, one of the program’s focus is to create a peer network of entrepreneurs across Canada.
When I talk to entrepreneurs that have relocated from Canada to Silicon Valley, they often tell me they go there because of the unparalleled collaborative entrepreneurial community there. If you have a problem, all it takes is a walk into a local café to meet someone who’s been in the same boat. If you need to hire someone with a particular talent, it just takes a phone call to get networked to the right person.
The Ontario Cross-Border Technology Innovation Ecosystem study identified that startups with bigger social networks (and not just Facebook friends, real-world connections) were more likely to receive more funding. Startup Genome also demonstrated that access to a large network of talent led to more funding and success for entrepreneurs. So attempts to create a peer network of entrepreneurs in Canada seems to be a wise move.
Other startups who aren’t connected to The Next 36 program should take a look at the talent being groomed here and think about making some new connections.