During coffee with a startup entrepreneur recently, I was asked: “Why aren’t you working for a startup?’. Given I’m passionate about startups and enjoy working with them, it was an interesting question.
The quick answer would be that I’ve been there, done that after having worked for Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye. Truth be told, startups can be all-consuming beasts, and I’m at a point in my life where family is a bigger priority.
But I think a better explanation is I’m happy to play a supporting role within Toronto’s startup ecosystem. As someone who provides strategic and tactical marketing services, I get the opportunity to work with many startups as opposed to only one. It’s a service many early-stage startups need so it’s rewarding to lend a hand when needed.
Taking a step back, there are many parts that support Toronto’s startup ecosystem. There are people like me who provide specific services (everything from financing and hiring to operations and sales), there are design and development shops, angels, bloggers, venture capitalists, and evangelists such as David Crow.
Startups the stars of the show but…
Some people within the ecosystem have worked for startups, while others have always played supporting roles. As much as startups are the stars of the show, their ability to succeed depends on the health of the ecosystem and its ability to support, connect, network and finance them.
Over the past few years, Toronto’s startup ecosystem has taken leaps and bounds. Leading the way has been the willingness of more entrepreneurs to take the startup plunge as opposed to talking about how great it would be to do a startup. At the end same time, ecosystem has expanded, evolved and matured to help fuel the machine.
While you never know what’s around the corner, I can’t see myself working for a startup. There are plenty of “players” will enter to get into the game, and I’m content to support and cheer them on.
More: On Both Sides of the Table, Mark Suster provides some thoughts on what makes for a success startup community. As well, well-known VC, Brad Feld, has a new book, “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City”.