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Community Leadership and Paying It Forward

Marcus Holmes
Marcus Holmes
// The Perth Startup Community is vibrant and growing, but we haven't seen a corresponding growth in the people willing to organise stuff.

The Perth Startup Community is vibrant and growing, but we haven’t seen a corresponding growth in the people willing to organise stuff.

Zane Prickett recently remarked that I was “doing too much”, and he’s probably right as usual (and my apologies to the PerthJS meetup crowd who I feel I’ve really let down from this). But I want the community to grow more, and the only way it can grow more is if there’s things for it to grow into, and that means more events. But the only new regular networky event we’ve had this year is SNAP.repayment

Frankly, we need more things to happen. But the people who are currently organising them are already stretched, so that means we need more people to organise things for everyone else to turn up to.

This leads nicely into the concept of “Paying It Forward”. Sam Birmingham touched on it at the end of the last Startup Weekend, but for those of you who missed that, then “Paying it forward” is one of the key concepts involved in growing a startup community is that everyone contributes to the community without direct compensation for that contribution.  Brad Feld devotes a lot of his “Building Startup Communities” to the idea that everyone needs to “Give Before They Get” to make the community grow, and the payback is usually much larger than they expected. I personally have experienced this with the stuff I’ve organised; I’ve been given opportunities and experiences way beyond the value of the time I contributed.

So, my little list of things I’d like to see the community create in 2015 is (in no particular order):

  • A better space for events. We’re pushing what Spacecubed can hold, so we need a bigger space. Ideally that’s Spacecubed taking over the rest of the building, and I know Brodie’s working on that, but the timescales are off and a choice is always good 🙂
  • A space dedicated to learning. We’ve got a few co-working spaces at the moment, but a co-learning space would be good.
  • A meetup for startup techies that isn’t devoted to a single technology. RORO is a great meetup but if you don’t code in Rails it doesn’t work. Likewise for the WordPress meetup, the Django meetup, the erratic PerthJS meetup, the iOS crowd, etc. Mobile Beers fills part of this gap, but that’s more of a drinking club for techies rather than a tech meetup that happens in a pub. I think we need a meetup devoted to startup tech.
  • A meetup for learning to code. This one came up recently at the Hour of Code thing. A meetup for all the people learning to code would be good. Again, technology-agnostic, just sharing experiences and learnings between people who are trying to grok the tech.
  • A co-founder finder meetup. Perth startups are almost all solo founders, and solo founders are less likely to succeed than teams. We need to start getting people to team up, and a meetup dedicated to letting people find their co-founders would be great.
  • A 4-hour work week (4HWW) support group. Quite a few of the startups around the community are more inclined towards the 4HWW model than the “proper” startup model – they’re looking to make passive income for a few people rather than build billion-dollar businesses. The problems faced by 4HWW businesses are different, and the techniques used to solve them are different, and a place to share this would be good.

payitforward-3That’s just what I can think of while writing this, and if I had time I’d definitely start all of these. But I’m already doing too much, and so is Sam, Patrick, Justin & Zane, Claire & Estelle, Marcus Tan, Andy & Simon, and everyone else who’s organising stuff (including the OzApps team, the Emergence mob, the GovHack folks, etc). And there’s undoubtedly a thousand other things that need organising and doing that I haven’t thought of.

So, here’s the call to action: You don’t need anyone’s approval to run an event in the startup community, but if you thought you did, you have it. In 2015, pay it forward by organising something that the community needs. You’ll be amazed at what you get back.


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Marcus Holmes

Marcus Holmes

Gentleman Technologist and co-founder of Startup News. His vision has made //SN a sustainable media cheerleader for the startup community. Former CEO of Phnom Penh Post, he can be found somewhere in S.E. Asia coding away...
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