IN most cases, a resilient community needs a thriving community of small, LOCAL businesses to succeed.
Why? They provide solutions to community needs like: gardenscaping, water harvesting systems, and more. They also produce goods and services that can be sold, traded or bartered with external business partners.
So, if we need small, local business to thrive, how to start them up and help them succeed in fast, efficient, and reliable way?
So far, the only answer has been on finding new ways to more easily fund start-up companies. Solutions like Kickstarter and its clones to the slow money movement to the recent JOBS Act.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever started a company before, you know that money is very far from a complete solution. This means it’s going to take more than new methods of financing for resilient communities to launch start-ups reliably.
One solution can be found in the fast paced start-up culture of the technology industry. Over the past three decades, the tech industry has found that the best way to launch start-ups quickly and reliably, is to incubate them.
What’s a standard incubator do? It’s a company that provides the following:
- A common place to work. The more start-ups the better. This places start-ups in close proximity to each other so that they can share ideas, opportunities, and expertise. For example, in the mobile technology wing of one Silicon Valley incubator, there are 50 companies, cubicle to cubicle.
- Access to financing. In the traditional world, this meant Venture Capitalists. In the emerging world, its a combination of online community financing (Kickstarter, etc.) and community groups (local-vesting).
- Technology support. From servers and rack space to networking and security. This is getting very inexpensive.
- Recruiting. In-house human resources and head-hunting. New models would include community formation.
- Mentoring. Executives and experienced professionals available to help.
- Basic office services from legal to accounting to financial management to public relations.
The Resilient Community Incubator
While the services of the standard incubator are a good start, a resilient community incubator could have the following:
- A maker-space replete with common tools, work space, and 3D fabrication equipment.
- Space for advanced food processing businesses from micro-dairies to a commercial kitchen.
- An open business ecosystem that allows smaller companies to tap into excess heat and materials used by a larger production process (think in terms of Chicago’s “Back of the Yards“).
- Mentoring by experts in animal husbandry to permaculture optimization to additive manufacturing.
- A shared co-op training system, that helps people become successful at participating in employee owned and co-op businesses.
I’ve just scratched the surface here. I’m sure you can think of many more.
Hey, if we can get this right, it will make it MUCH easier for people to invest in local start-ups since an incubator would reduce uncertainty and risk. That would make it possible for people to invest pension funds and 401ks into local businesses that they can use every day, rather than global boondoggles.
Your optimistic that there are ways to radically accelerate local innovation analyst,
PS: One of the best start-up incubators in the Technology industry is Plug-and-Play. It incubated Google, PayPal, and many other successful companies. My friend Robert Scoble has a long and detailed video interview with Saeed Amidi, the founder of the Plug-and-Play. Worth watching if you want to dig into the topic.