What About Time in a Startup, or Entrepreneurial, Community? We Get Old and Want Stability


What about time? One point that surrounds Brad Feld’s Startup communities is the element of time. He says that an entrepreneurial leader needs to commit to a “rolling” 20 years.

Over that period of time it is pretty easy to switch from the “crazy networked entrepreneur” to the “staid hierarchical status quo” ( He calls this the patriarch problem). I think it’s a little deeper than one guy. We are all searching for stability.

On a personal level the Rands In Repose: Stables and Volatiles post speaks to an entrepreneurs journey from “volatile” to “stable”. Most people I passed this along to said, “Great Stuff. It doesn’t talk about the needed renewal. The story where the stable goes back to his/her roots. Where is that article?”

On a higher level Roger Martin’s Knowledge Funnel illustrates this journey. His book The Design of Business does a great job of describing communication between what he calls “validity” and “reliability”.

On another plane psychologist Jon Haidt’s new book Book Review: The Righteous Mind – WSJ.com speaks to the moral values espoused by those who believe more in individuality vs those who believe in institutions. Interesting stuff. This book is a great read. Absolutely mind warping. Buy it for yourself for Christmas. Or go the library and put yourself on the wait list.

Wow! Brad Feld’s Startup Communities is Awesome.

Anyone engaged, or wanting to engage, in their local startup community should read this book. It provides a great framework describing the roles of entrepreneurs, universities, governments, investors, and others. It provides a way that we can all connect and get out of our silos.

On a personal level I really like the Mentor notes. Especially offering “Office Hours” and the TechStars Mentor Manifesto

I’ve included two references if you want more detail.

Read More

More More

I had this thought that I’d write up more on this, but I felt that just getting the links out was more important.


This has become a topic that I refer to quite often. Here are relevant posts.

Thank You All For Customer Development Version 2012 ( UBC MBA BAEN502 )

I’d like to thank all the people who supported me in making the BAEN502 Customer Development course happen. The list is long and I’m likely to forget someone.

Guest Speakers

I had six great speakers this year! Thank you all. Three of them for the first time.

I really enjoyed the two alumni that spoke this year. Darren Negraeff Zafin Labs and Harman Bajwa Ismoip both came in and bared their souls. It was amazing to see how much they’ve done since graduating. They even used some of the material from the class. Good work guys.

This year Dossier Creative changed it up and I had Don Chisholm in place of Ronna. He’s a design guy and gave by far the deepest, slickest and most entertaining talk. Experiencing this was remarkable and we all took away points on “How To Present Better”.

The technology company talks from Andre Marzial Boreal Genomics and Philip Abrary Ostara were fascinating. It was inspiring to see how much time, effort, soul they are putting in to realize their dreams. They are on amazing journeys. It is worth it.

Again I really enjoyed Bill Richardson’s talk about the creation of PMC-Sierra’s SATURN user group, even it it was >20 years ago. It is such a good reminder that PMC was initially successful because of customer development and not technology. PMC’s big innovation was a novel way of selling semiconductors. I keep having to remember that PMC did a lot of “Customer Relationship” innovation. This story will never get old.

Project Sponsors

I had more sponsors than students to take them. This was amazing! ( and a first) A big Thank You to Sunberry Fitness, Versicool, SimPool, Peace Geeks, and Theatre Terrific . You all really made a difference, I hope that we provided value for you.

The UBC support staff

It’s always amazing how guest speaker parking passes, evaluation forms, exam times, and exceptions “just get done”. Usually one e-mail and “boom” it’s done.

The Community

Steve Blank

Firstly I can’t thank Steve Blank enough for open sourcing his class & ideas way back in 2007. I could never have done this without his books and material. I’m also very thankful that he has continued to document, develop, and evangelize the Customer Development process in an open source way. Read Developing a 21st Century Entrepreneurship Curriculum wow!

The UBC and Broader Entrepreneurship Community

This year I made quite a few changes based on interactions with the UBC and broader entrepreneurship community.

The e@UBC folks Anuj and Deven for being sounding boards and giving me the opportunity to volunteer in their world really helps build real world examples for this course. Three sponsors come from these programs.

Denise and Moura for giving me the confidence to add more experiential techniques to a course with only 6 weeks duration.

Bonni Ross for providing me with a solid grounding in experiential techniques ( especially listening ) and community building skills.

The folks at PMC-Sierra for reviewing much of the Sales and Marketing material. Making sure it is current.

Matthew Bongiorno at the UBC – Community Learning Initiative for finding sponsor’s for me and reminding me to get sponsors.

And John Ries for hiring me (again) and allowing me into the building.

The Students

This year I was very impressed that the majority of the project groups interviewed 40+ individuals in only 3 weeks! They really Got Out of the Building. They directly experienced the tremendous difference this activity makes on the outcome of a project.

Sidebar on class diversity The class diversity was similar to other years. The main difference was having 24 students instead of the 40+ of the last two years. Otherwise it was the same pattern : ~50% exchange students, greater than 50% international students, mostly male, extremely strong International Women, and sadly few Canadian Women (this year zero). I wrote in detail about this last year

Fortunately this course always has it’s skeptics and slackers. I try to weed them out early, but every year they slip through. While this is disappointing it is also very positive, in that this experience is usually the impetus for the best changes I make each year.

lastly me

I’m never sure if I really do a good job at this. Some parts are good and some parts are definitely works in progress. I think I’m getter better “slowly”. I’m glad I did it.