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Mapping Communities One Startup At A Time

Cameron Cushman

cameron_w_cushman PFAt the Kauffman Foundation, we recently announced a grant to a group that is trying to map and track where startups are around the world. The project--Startup Genome--is working "to build the most complete and accurate database of the world's startup communities, present it in useful, beautiful ways and provide tools and reports that community builders can use to gain insight into what's happening in their community. And make better decisions about how to grow it." The magic behind Startup Genome lies in the fact that it uses local curators to enter, track and update information about the startups in their area.

So why is this important?

It will show real startups in real time. Startups can be hard to find. They are starting up and closing down all the time. They often change their names. They frequently pivot their business models. All of this makes good data on startups hard to find and hard to trust. Giving communities the power to keep track of local entrepreneurs and the companies they are building will keep the data more accurate and up to date.

Entrepreneurs and community builders were already building their own maps (and this will make their lives easier). I think it was the release of the iPad that first made me aware of software that allowed you to "map" anything. I know I built a few maps that attempted to make sense of connections between people, groups and programs. I suspect that tech-savvy entrepreneurs have been doing similar things with the startups that they know in their own hometowns for about as long. Startup Genome will hopefully make this process easier and allow local communities to connect with other startup ecosystems around the country.

The data nerds and research geeks will love it. Nothing turns on researchers more than good data. And, good data leads to observations and insights based on facts. Observations and insights can lead to better decision-making by city leaders, investors and other entrepreneurs. All of this leads to more successful startup ecosystems.

Maybe people who don't get it, finally will. Politicians are quick to tour manufacturing plants, farms and new hospital wings, but they rarely spend time with startups. Local media might cover startups sparingly, but they are more enamored by the big companies in town. Academics tend to believe that innovation and job creation happen more often in big business rather than in startups. Perhaps, having a real-time map that is locally sourced will not only show that startups exist around the country and the world, but will also alert government and academic infrastructure to new exciting innovations right in their own backyard.

Explore your city's map or to learn about being your city's curator.

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