VOL. 129 | NO. 118 | Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Partners Drive Startup Ecosystem
ERIC MATHEWS | Special to The Daily News
Building startups is tough work that requires the engagement of money, mentorship and professional support.
Back before there were incubators, accelerators and formal platforms to systematically assist startup companies, there were critical trusted advisers in the community to help guide entrepreneurs as they started up. Those advisers were local bankers, lawyers, marketers, accountants and others where entrepreneurs could turn for support and guidance. While new startup infrastructures have sprung up to provide knowledge, capital and other resources, professionals continue to be the backbone driving entrepreneurial growth.
These professionals supply three key assets:
Advice: professional service providers a have wealth of business cases and scenarios from which they can supply tailored advice to entrepreneurs.
Network: these providers also open up their professional networks, making introductions that can be critical to advancing a new business.
Services: to encourage and sustain early stage entrepreneurs that are low on cash, professional service providers can defer costs, furnish discounts, or even provide services gratis.
To empower the community and other startup supporters, these professional service providers will also often be found granting sponsorship dollars for various community events.
Each of Start Co.’s partners has supplied much needed support to the early stage startup ecosystem. When Start Co. was first chartered and began operating programs such as Business Plan Bootcamp and Startup Weekend, local law firm Baker Donelson, CPA firm The Marston Group and advertising agency archer-malmo stepped up with time and money. Today, you will also find Orion Federal Credit Union, Softlayer (an IBM company) and Mosaik Solutions all stepping up. These partners not only support startups, but also provide essential services to Start Co. Each of them provides a critical and significant investment to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In total, these firms are contributing over a quarter of a million dollars annually in real money, time and services to drive the growth of startups and support the operations at Start Co. Further, they each support other organizations with entrepreneurial missions such as EmergeMemphis and BioWorks. This non-trivial investment is as critical now as ever for our community.
Looking back to 2008, it is safe to say that Start Co. wouldn’t exist today or have the same scale and impact if it weren’t for the engagement of our partners that took that first risk. Each of them has now realized that that first risk has brought them great rewards and cascading benefits, not only for their firms but more importantly for the community at large. In providing their time, money and resources to those that are building the jobs of tomorrow, each of them are building a better community.
Professional service providers have and will continue to be the backbone of the startup ecosystem. Each of our partners is driving entrepreneurial growth through their investments.
Eric Mathews is CEO/founder of Start Co.