Should We Drink the Local Kool-Aid?

In the post I wrote earlier this week about the demise of Thoora, there was a comment suggesting that “Toronto failed Thoora” due to a lack of community support to make it a “winning formula”.

It was a puzzling comment because it suggests a community has an obligation to support a startup so it can thrive. This strikes me as an absurd idea because startups should succeed or fail on their own merits, and the ability to attract an audience near and close.

Sure, it’s good to drink the local flavour of “Kool-Aid” but only if a startup is offering a product or service that meets a need or interest. There are lots of local startups, including some that pitch me directly, that don’t resonate because nothing something interests me or the product/service doesn’t resonate enough to warrant further exploration.

It doesn’t mean I’m not supporting the local community; it just means a startup has a service that didn’t pass the sniff test.

At the same time, I do think Toronto’s startup community is extremely supportive. There’s no lack of enthusiasm, energy and a willingness to share ideas, feedback, resources, real estate and time to provide startups with a boost.

This has been a fact of life for the past five years, even before we started to see a flurry of startups appear on the scene. There has always been a strong, support community that has pulled together in different ways. A great example is tonight’s HoHoTo party, which has become a major fund-raising machine due to tremendous support from the community.

The bottom line is if a startup needs to rely on the community to make it, it also suggests what it’s offering can’t survive  without artificial support.

For startups, the market has to be bigger than its own backyard. It needs people to support it or not based on what’s being sold as opposed to a sense of duty or obligation.

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  • Chris Schmitt

    Local community support can be a double edged sword. A new start-up can be fooled into thinking that they’re on to something big by an initially enthusiastic response from the local start-up community. But that doesn’t mean it has a viable product or service that will carry it forward in the long run.

  • Jim Rudnick

    As Chris said, the creation and development of an MVP is oft fraught with “atta boys” from locals…it’s all a part I think of the community start-up gestalt….least, that’s how I see it too!