“Fitting in” isn’t often what entrepreneurs do best. However, when it comes to finding an in-group of like-minded, ambitious, intelligent people, we all need some kind of crowd to help us learn, find new partners or employees, or at least have some kind of “life” amidst the hustle and bustle of startup-ness.
Chris Snook has been an entrepreneur many times over, and after spending years in the trenches of various companies, he’s now an early-stage startup investor, as well as a mentor for a number of startup organizations. Moving out to Norther Colorado with his wife, Brianne, the duo has had to find their fit – again (it’s a different work from the San Diego they’re used to), and find new venture to dig into. One of them is Launchhaus, designed a a bed and breakfast for entrepreneurs to stay, meet, and explore the beauty of northern Colorado (affectionately called NoCo).
Having “been around the block,” I first asked Chris what he believes entrepreneurs should know what it comes to networking and finding a “fit” with the right kind of people in their niche or space.
“Networking is one of those things that everyone’s supposed to do… but most people do wrong,” Chris begins. “What is relevant at the macro-level in your ecosystem – what is it’s agenda? Is it attracting capital, is it growing new companies… what is everyone in the collective trying to accomplish? …If you don’t pay homage and respect the the overall collective’s alignment, then you can come across as someone who’s out for themselves or who’s out of the loop.”
He then refers to the transition that he and his wife made when they came into Colorado. Before moving into the ecosystem of Colorado, Chris made a point of determining the collective purpose of the area. In understanding this, he was able to determine who the players were, who was clueless, and prioritize who he was talking to. “And because the whole conversation was about understanding them, they thought we were great conversationalists… because we were curious about what they’re up to.” Launchhaus was part of Chris and Brianne’s project to find where they were needed, and where they wouldn’t be redundant.
Geographically, the “finding of a fit” is another topic of interest for entrepreneurs. Not everybody needs Silicon Valley, not everyone wants Silicon Valley, and it’s not necessarily best for everyone in the first place. Emerging tech people might want Boston, some folks might want Austin, and others might find NYC the best place to be. I asked Chris for a bit of his perspective on how entrepreneurs should take location into account with their decision-making.
He says that there are some situations where your desired business sector really does hone in on one or two locations. “If you’re looking to get into TV, well then New York and LA really are going to be the media hubs.” However, he says that at the end of the day, the decision to move there or to merely be flying back and forth from there is ultimately yours. With cheap flights, Skype calls, and the mobile web, you can be a “jet setter” or someone who’s grounded physically in their hub. The choice is a personal choice, and Chris points out the importance of leveraging entrepreneurship to build something that means something to you.
Chris also believes that at the end of the day, being able to “bloom where you’re planted” and grow the communities outside of the major tech hubs may have an aggregately beneficial impact on society.