Empirical Support for the Boulder Thesis

Yesterday, Kauffman Foundation released a study that provided empirical support for the Boulder Thesis that I came up with in my book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. The study is excellent if you are interested in this topic and can be read at ad “Think Locally, Act Locally: Building a Robust Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.”

Kauffman did a study of 1 Million Cups, a program that was launched at Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City and is expanding rapidly around the US with it now in 33 communities in 21 states. Colorado has two – a 1 Million Cups in Denver and 1 Million Cups in Fort. Collins. 1 Million Cups Denver was also a recipient of one of the first Startup Colorado Community Fund grants.

The study found:

  • Entrepreneurship is a local phenomenon.
  • Entrepreneurs follow local entrepreneurs.
  • Local networks thicken over time.
  • Entrepreneurial demand is high for peer-based learning and networking.
  • Different programs reach different entrepreneurs.

In the report, Kauffman lined this up clearly against the Boulder Thesis, which, if you don’t know it, is:

  1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.
  2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment.
  3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.
  4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

Or, if you are a video person and want to go a little deeper, take a look at the great StartupVille video Kauffman did when I released the book as part of their Sketchbook series.

I gave a 30 minute interview on this and other topics at the Atlanta Tech Village yesterday – nice summary from David Cummings. And there was a good student survey at  showing Chicago and the Midwest as an Evolving Hub for Entrepreneurship.

  • John @ Deep Dive Coders

    Brad, thanks for the continuing inspiration and support for startup communities around the country. Close to you here in New Mexico, and Albuquerque in particular, we’re working hard to live by the Boulder Thesis and make it our own.

    Matter of fact, I just returned from our monthly, lively StartupABQ event this morning. We’re gaining momentum (Google acquiring Titan Aerospace!) and laying the foundation for the long run.

    Thanks again!

    • I saw the Google / Titan deal – very neat.

  • Brad,
    This is Arnobio Morelix. I work at the Kauffman Foundation, on Dane’s team, and I am one of the co-authors of this report. Many thanks for sharing it!
    – Arnobio

    • Many thanks for writing it!

  • Detrick

    I am very proud of what’s going on in the Dallas/Fort Worth community. The metroplex is ripe to learn from, adopt and adapt the “Boulder Thesis” http://bit.ly/1k9wmkQ http://thedec.co/scene/

    • Love it. I grew up in Dallas so always happy to see good things happen there.

      • Detrick

        I’m taking your Venture Deals (read the book when it came out) course via KFA… I highly recommend it to everyone in the ecosystem. We tend to judge the success/failure of the ecosystem primarily on funding activity. But how can we have healthy funding activity when many of us don’t even understand the game. Learning the rules is step #1 to playing the game… Your course/book is an excellent rule book.

  • It wasn’t so long ago that I was told I wouldn’t essentially be able to do a startup unless it were in Silicon Valley.

    This is obviously no longer being recognized as a universal truth.

    The Boulder Thesis will go down in history. Entrepreneurs talk about changing the world and many do. You’ve definitely achieved that, particularly with the heuristic principles you’ve shared in “Startup Communities”. As a matter of fact. you’ve undoubtedly already changed the lives of entrepreneurs who are currently children or who are not even born yet, as per the fourth postulate you put forward in the book.

    I have recently listened to that book (on Audible) and I must say that what blew my mind the most is that you were ready, upon being asked, to fly to Iceland in order to help the ecosystem there.

    You certainly ‘put your money where your mouth is’, as the saying goes.

    • Thx Mario. It’s been awesome to see what has happened around the world in the past few years.

  • Murray McKercher

    I am sitting in Boston this morning contemplating this exact topic. Rather serendipitous this popped into my phone today. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cool! Any thoughts to add to the mix?