The MN Startup Community Is Coming Along Nicely

First, I found this story on Minnesota Business by Peter Kane:

“Someone needs to say it: the Twin Cities has a dramatic gap between perceived ability and actual ability to support early stage startups. The lack of startup support structure is letting down an entire generation.”


“Peter,

I would like to be surprised, but I’m not. I am more than willing to fully embrace my disappointment however. But, over the past 8 years I have been more a part of the problem, than the solution. I’m one of those Minnesota entrepreneurs who left the midwest for the ‘glory land’ of San Francisco. I am not going to lie, I did learn a ton by being smack dab in the middle of silicon valley. But, before I left MN, I gathered a ton of folks from the community for a little come to Jesus meeting back in 2008. I feel like we had a good discussion about what was needed to build stronger community and support for entrepreneurs in this city: co-working, conversations around lean principles, more early-stage funding, and a healthier willingness to share what we were working on (rather than keeping everything so close to the vest).

Is the community perfect? No. But, I just moved back to town, and plan on being here for a long time. And over the past 8 years, I can tell you that things ARE getting better. Now, when I look around I see a THRIVING co-working scene, a saturation of understanding and actual practice of lean approach (vs watterfall and build the whole thing before you launch), a much bigger number of angels and seed funds, and many many more local startups.

I get where you are coming from Peter. And I completely agree that there is so much more we can accomplish and strive for as a community. But, these things take time. And, I would hate for us to forget how far we have already come in such a short time.”


Then, I found another response to this story over on Tech.mn by Jeff Pesek


“Jeff,

I agree with you that the solution to these frustrations will come from *doing* rather than *complaining.*

But, the intensity of your response leave me feeling like you don’t believe the community needs to do a better job of supporting one another, encouraging one another, and struggling with one another. Maybe that wasn’t your intention, but it is what I absorbed. And, if I were a first-time entrepreneur, and I read your advice to me, I would assume that I should just shut-up until I’ve accomplished something big, don’t ask for help, and don’t admit publicly that I am struggling and need some help. Which to me perfectly describes the biggest hurdle this community needs to overcome to ‘level up’ to the next stage.

I suspect that these two articles describe the two extremes of the current culture in MN startup community, and the healthy reality is somewhere in the middle.

I can’t tell everyone else what to do, but I can tell you what I am doing, and hope to do more of:

  • Dive deeper into the community and get to know more people who are in the arena trying to build something from nothing
  • Share my own struggles and dreams with more people, being as honest as possible about the joys and deep-pains of being an entrepreneur
  • Seek out individual people and the watering holes where people gather to reach out and lend a helping hand to fellow entrepreneurs
  • Share as many lessons-learned as possible so that others can learn from my mistakes and discoveries at scale, hopefully resulting in a ‘rising tides float all boats’ here in MN”

Anybody want to join me?

How I use Kapuno

TL;DR – Finally, a place to have meaningful conversations within a community.

Pretty much the only reason I blog is because I want to have meaningful conversation with people. Something that sits outside of all the social networks with all their noise, ads, and filter issues. They are great a collecting a ton of people, but they aren’t great (most of the time) for having meaningful conversations. Either they are so noisy and huge that I can’t expect real people to ever see the things I share, or they have so many ads and other noise that I can’t find the people I want to start conversations with. So, I blog and just share links out to those other networks. But, few people actually make it all the way through to the comments and jump in. They’re more likely to just like or favorite the link and keep scrolling.

Kapuno changes all of this. The focus is on conversations, instead of “publishing.” The communities of people are self-selected as actually interested in the topic, so they are entirely more likely to jump into the conversation. More things are relevant because deep conversations aren’t scattered between random links, baby pictures, and videos of hate crimes. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for, ever since I started blogging in 1998.

I don’t have a general answer to how I use Kapuno. Since conversations are happening within different communities, each community is different. So, in some communities I am much more likely to start a conversation by sharing multiple links to resources, pulling out what is most interesting to me, and then asking some questions. In other communities, I am more likely to begin with a big question and chat through the options. Others are just silly and chatty.

More “How I Use”:

How I use Twitter

TL;DR – I share too much, and prefer to use lists.

Twitter has changed a lot since I first signed up in July of 2006. It was SMS only when I started, and there were only a few friends to ‘send updates’ to. These days, I’m following 5k+ accounts, and 10K+ follow me. I rarely look at the actual time line. Instead I have multiple lists and searches open in TweetDeck across several different personal and business accounts.

I have 0 expectations that anyone looks at everything I share on Twitter. In fact, I would feel bad for them if they did. Because I tend to share almost everything I write anywhere else on there. I share little updates through out my day. I ask questions. But, mostly, I respond to people I am seeing in my lists and mentions.

Obviously, I don’t follow everyone who follows me. And, not everyone I follow follows me back. I follow people who intrigue me, and who I am having interesting conversations with. And, I follow accounts of people and projects I just want to keep track of.

I’m not sure what Twitter is going to look like 9 years from now. I expect it will change even more in the next 9 years than it has up till now.

More “How I Use”:

Today I will Learn about Daily Affirmations

I’m playing with some IFTTT recipes, and one I borrowed from someone has me writing down a few things each morning, including 3 daily affirmations. I’ve heard of them before, but never really dug in. I could just start up the google machine, but I wanted to hear from friends first.

A few folks have jumped into the twitter fray, but I’d love to hear more. Do you use them? How do you write them? Are you still going or did you quit? Is it something you do for the rest of your life, or is it something you “achieve” at some point and move past?

Twiter Thread

Just Shared Memories

Part of the Experimental Conversation Series:

Life Is as It Is, No Persona, Imperfection is Perfection, Live for the Moment, Vanity is Overrated, Privacy is Everything, Real Friends Love the Real You, Leave No Trace | (Feedback)


My first question for this topic is, how many ways can we break this topic down? If we start pulling at the threads, what are some of the things that come out?

I’d like to collect ideas, themes, topics of study, quotations, links to great articles, etc to help shape our conversation.

Leave No Trace

Part of the Experimental Conversation Series:

Life Is as It Is, No Persona, Imperfection is Perfection, Live for the Moment, Vanity is Overrated, Privacy is Everything, Real Friends Love the Real You, Just Shared Memories | (Feedback)


My first question for this topic is, how many ways can we break this topic down? If we start pulling at the threads, what are some of the things that come out?

I’d like to collect ideas, themes, topics of study, quotations, links to great articles, etc to help shape our conversation.

Real Friends Love the Real You

Part of the Experimental Conversation Series:

Life Is as It Is, No Persona, Imperfection is Perfection, Live for the Moment, Vanity is Overrated, Privacy is Everything, Leave No Trace, Just Shared Memories | (Feedback)


My first question for this topic is, how many ways can we break this topic down? If we start pulling at the threads, what are some of the things that come out?

I’d like to collect ideas, themes, topics of study, quotations, links to great articles, etc to help shape our conversation.

Privacy is Everything

Part of the Experimental Conversation Series:

Life Is as It Is, No Persona, Imperfection is Perfection, Live for the Moment, Vanity is Overrated, Real Friends Love the Real You, Leave No Trace, Just Shared Memories | (Feedback)


My first question for this topic is, how many ways can we break this topic down? If we start pulling at the threads, what are some of the things that come out?

I’d like to collect ideas, themes, topics of study, quotations, links to great articles, etc to help shape our conversation.

Vanity is Overrated

Part of the Experimental Conversation Series:

Life Is as It Is, No Persona, Imperfection is Perfection, Live for the Moment, Privacy is Everything, Real Friends Love the Real You, Leave No Trace, Just Shared Memories | (Feedback)


My first question for this topic is, how many ways can we break this topic down? If we start pulling at the threads, what are some of the things that come out?

I’d like to collect ideas, themes, topics of study, quotations, links to great articles, etc to help shape our conversation.