The Case for Startup Community Goals - 1

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The Case for Startup Community Goals - 1
Matthew Davis is Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of GetZeek, Inc, a Durham startup that provides easy, mobile access to exclusive deals and ongoing offers all year long at your favorite local spots.

That picture is not him.


Goal setting is a religion at our company. Every startup that wants to be the next big thing, especially those with investors, sets goals. There's so much talk of goal setting, milestones, and KPIs it's almost nauseating, but goals work. Period. Why can't we, as a entrepreneurial community, set SMART goals [hat tip to Matt Williamson] for what we want the scene to be like in 5-10 years?

Let's back up a second...

As COO of a Durham startup, I enjoy learning what other entrepreneurs have to say. David Cummings, CEO of Pardot, published this post on setting 2020 goals for Atlanta's startup scene. Jobs, exits, acquisitions, incubators, and more make the list.

Hmmm—perhaps we should hold OUR startup community to the same standards of goal setting that we hold our own companies. But why?

DIRECTION
Without goals, we have no clear direction. No common goals means we're working harder individually, not smarter collectively. Having been in the startup world for the last year, we already see efforts to break down the silos making a positive impact. Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are coming together more often, as well as our universities. We can progress faster if we share common goals.

NEW ECONOMY
I personally believe that the US of A's economic future hinges upon new high-growth startups, creating new jobs that didn't previously exist. Knowledge workers have become the norm here in RTP, and a contributing factor to low employment rates locally. More focused startup community = more new companies = more new jobs = more happy people.

OWNERSHIP
Let's throw open the doors, bring everyone together across the Triangle, and agree to common goals. We'll all feel like we have ownership and a stake in the outcome. Just writing this post already makes me feel more important than I really am.

The question then becomes: What are the right goals for Tobacco Alley? Let's take a swing. I'm gonna nerd out and go all "conversion funnel" on you. By 2020 our goals should be:

TOP OF THE FUNNEL = Create More Startups

  • 100 startups operating each year in each point of the Triangle, totaling 300. Gotta fill the top of the funnel if you want the investments and the exits.

  • Double the amount of space open to incubators to 100K sq ft. My guesstimate: there's around 50K sq ft of space today including the Underground (26K), HUB Raleigh (~6K), NCSU's Garage (6K), and the soon-to-be-opened Chapel Hill incubator (~10K). I'm missing a few.

    MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL = Invest & Nurture

  • Investments - Double the amount of investments from 2011's $304M across 47 companies to $600M across 100 companies [Source: PWC Moneytree. Thanks, SQ1 Zack].

  • Add one new technology anchor to the region. A large public or private company that financially supports the entrepreneurial community and also churns out great entrepreneurs. Red Hat leads the charge here today.

  • Host a monthly seminar & podcast series to foster better university/startup/city collaboration. The event rotates between universities each month, and invites the region and nation's forward thinking entrepreneurs to speak. Stanford's eCorner is my inspiration here. They nail it.

    BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL = Exit & Reinvest

  • Exits - Have one home run (>$100M), 1 triple (>$50M), 10 doubles (>$10M), 40 singles (>$5M).

  • Reinvest - All of those happy people with larger bank accounts now reinvest by starting new companies or by providing startup funding.

    We have pieces of the puzzle, and the edges are coming together, but the rest are still scattered across the table. With a little collective effort and a common vision, we can absolutely do this, and we're already on this path. Time to be even more consciously competent. Easy? No. Powerful? You bet.