What it really means for a community to support startups

Posted on June 10, 2013

It is inevitable that working with startups every day will rub off on the people closest to you outside of the startup world.  My children (8, 6 and almost 4) decided they wanted to run their own business this weekend and set out to open the first “Art and Rock Shop” in Waterloo.  A puppet stand stood in for their front counter, TV tables held their art and rocks, and a large umbrella shaded them from the sun.  Tadpoles were recruited to help draw in young kids who brought parents with them.  Signs were made and the scene was set.

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Within 3 minutes of opening the “store”, a wonderful woman pulled her car over and got out with her son.  She didn’t even know what they were selling (the sign was hard to read from a car window) but just thought it was cool.  She asked her son to pick out his favorite piece of art and bought it for $1.  My children were thrilled with excitement.  I thanked her for helping out and she thought it was amazing what they were doing.  They should be encouraged as much as possible.

When we think about how communities should be supporting startups, Canadians immediately think of government and the role they should play.  Or, they think of the programs to help mentor founders.  Or, the facilities necessary to house all of these upcoming companies.

What we miss all too often is the role the broader community plays in being the first customer for a startup.  It is critical that someone risks trying a new product, spends a little more time giving feedback through the sales process, works through a product that isn’t quite done yet.  That is a role everyone can play in our community and communities around the world – we all need to buy products and services.

On that note, a very big thank you to the wonderful woman who was the first customer for my kids and made their day!


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