Joyce Liew with the book, The Startup Community Way

Our Intern Read The Startup Community Way. Here’s What She Thought.

By Joyce Liew

Joyce Liew is a business research and data analysis intern at Startup Colorado. To support her understanding of entreprenurial ecosystem building, Joyce recently read The Startup Community Way by Brad Feld and Ian Hathaway. Since joining the SUCO team 9 months ago, Joyce has learned a lot about the startup world and we wanted to know how this book informed her education.

The Startup Community Way book

Startup Colorado: How did The Startup Community Way change your understanding of what it takes to find success as an entrepreneur?

Joyce Liew: The Startup Community Way lists a few ideas that I believe will lead any entrepreneur to success:

  • Building on the strengths of your community. Many entrepreneurs and startup communities believe they can recreate Silicon Valley, but no two communities are the same. There is local history, culture, and the dynamic nature of each community’s complex systems. Startup communities should instead focus on being the best version of themselves and continuously improve by running experiments and taking risks.
  • Don’t wait. Things snowball and can lead to changing your community forever. It just takes an idea and a few reliable entrepreneurial leaders to guide the rest of the community. 
  • Know that progress is slow, uneven, and surprising. 
    • Have an open mind and avoid risk aversion as it hinders growth. 
    • Rely on the community and form relationships with fellow entrepreneurs. Information travels fast and wide.
    • Diversity and inclusion of different views are the most critical assets a community can have since it builds resilience and produces different results.

SUCO: Now that you’ve been with Startup Colorado for 9 months and have developed a greater understanding of rural entrepreneurship, what lessons do you think rural ecosystem builders can take from this book?

JL: Rural entrepreneurs should not pressure themselves to recreate the next Silicon Valley. It’s understandable to want to create a community that is successful, but they also need to keep in mind that no two communities are the same because of the location’s history and business factors. Instead, rural entrepreneurs should build on the strengths their communities already have and continue to improve on them through trial and error. By learning from mistakes and taking on the risk for potential ideas, it’s very possible that you can find something great that can change your community forever.

SUCO: Why is it important for stakeholders to understand the complexity of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the long-term approach needed for cultivating them? 

JL: Although it’s important that stakeholders want to see that there will be results, it’s important to understand that it’s impossible for a startup community to thrive overnight. It takes an entire ecosystem to find ways to work together, discover new ideas, find the right people to lead, and take the time for everything to come together and develop into something that can yield results. 

An interesting concept that the authors use is “feeders and leaders.” Stakeholders should also know that they are feeders in the ecosystem – they are nurturing and supporting the growth of entrepreneurs and the community. In contrast, entrepreneurs are leaders who try to influence new or existing entrepreneurs. Stakeholders and other feeders work to build the startup community and sustain it. I mention this because I want stakeholders and other feeders in the community to understand how important their role is and how the entrepreneurial community wouldn’t survive without them.

SUCO: The Startup Community Way provides insight into preparing for both good times and downturns. What do you think is the most important lessons for rural entrepreneurial communities to consider going into the uncertainty of 2023? 

JL: Uncertainty is always challenging, and it’s in our nature to try and control our environment or prevent risk by using predictions; however, it’s almost impossible to manage uncertainty and forecasts can be futile. Authors Feld and Hathaway suggest that entrepreneurs should learn to let go of control and conduct experiments, adapt, and repeat – allowing them to learn from failures.



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