For entrepreneurs, there’s no excuse for not being plugged in to what’s going on in the startup world, both locally (wherever the entrepreneur is located) and globally. This is especially true for entrepreneurs that don’t live in startup hotbeds like Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs tend to move more slowly outside of startup centers. There are some advantages to being outside of the echo chamber, but it also becomes easier to lull yourself into a false sense of security and opportunity too.
Being plugged in means having a more worldly, up-to-date and realistic view of what’s happening. It’s important to recognize that the world is moving insanely fast, competitors are all over, and there are infinitely more opportunities outside of your backyard than in it.
In Montreal for example, it’s not uncommon to see a startup targeting a local market (and not just to start, but as an entire business strategy). Or to see a startup that doesn’t think it has any competition (even though I can easily name or find a few). It’s not uncommon to meet a Montreal entrepreneur that’s never visited the Valley or New York or Boston. And it’s a shame. From an investment perspective (wearing my Year One Labs hat) I get very concerned when I see these issues. It makes me question whether the entrepreneur has the necessary Founder DNA. Of course, I’m sure this isn’t a problem exclusive to Montreal (I’m just using my own reference point and experience.)
Being plugged in means knowing people, and having a strong and growing network. That network should span the globe; there’s no reason for it not to.
Being plugged in means reading the top VC and investor blogs, tech news sites, startup blogs and more. It’s about understanding Lean Startups and Customer Development and tracking and understanding trends that are relevant, be it gamification, A/B testing, monetization strategies, freemium, etc.
It’s not about rubbing shoulders with pseudo-celebrities in our industry (although there’s nothing wrong with that!) It’s not about amassing endless Twitter followers. Being plugged in is about being in the know. If you’re not in the know you’re doing yourself and your startup a disservice. It’s not that hard. Get out of your city and travel. Read. Track people and interact on Twitter. Build a personal brand. Leverage the local network to expand past your close geographic confines and reach further.
There’s no excuse for not being plugged in. Those entrepreneurs that realize there’s a big, nasty world out there – with a ton going on that can constantly impact their startups – are more prepared, more strategic and more agile. Everyone else is living in a small bubble that will get popped.