I was reading Christine’s blog post about getting plugged into the startup community. Her article was focused on Silicon Valley but I encourage anyone in the local startup community to read it as many of her points are applicable to any community. Based on her article, I wanted to add some of my tips for people in Kitchener-Waterloo who are interested in getting plugged into the local startup community.
You need to visit! Unlike most startup communities, the KW startup community is physically concentrated around the Accelerator-Centre/Research and Technology Park in Waterloo or the Communitech Hub in Kitchener. Both facilities have great networking areas that you can simply drop into and visit with people. Don’t be shy!
Attend the networking events! There are literally networking events going on every week that provide a great opportunity for you to meet people in the local startup community. For example, the KWB2B meetup was held in the VeloCity Garage tonight. Startup Drinks, moBeers, and networking events hosted by Communitech are great ones to check out.
Ask how you can help! Too many people approach the startup community looking for how it will benefit them. If you are seriously interested in getting plugged in offer to help. You never know where the offer will take you but every single entrepreneur can use help and your skills/knowledge/connections could be exactly what makes the big breakout possible for that company. We are always looking for great people to mentor teams in our VeloCity programs.
Leverage your big company! Many of the large companies in the region have a physical presence in the Communitech Hub (RIM, OpenText, University of Waterloo, etc). So, why aren’t you down working at the Communitech Hub for the day? I know that many on my former Developer Relations team at RIM love coming down to the Hub and meeting developers in the local startup community. Whether you are in sales, marketing, or R&D there are always great opportunities to spend a day away from your desk at the office.
Use your network! It won’t take very long to find someone in your close network who is either at a startup or works closely with startups. Reach out and ask to buy them a coffee (or tea or pepsi or whatever) as a great way to learn more about the startup community.
I would love to hear your tips and feedback on how best to get plugged into the KW region startup community.