Michelle From Houston: How To Explain Startups To An Outsider

By March 4, 2013

I found the startup community at the University of Illinois and never looked back. When I moved out of the thriving Chicago ecosystem and two-stepped down to Houston, Texas, I tried explaining the significance of a strong entrepreneurial environment to a Texan friend.

“I just don’t get the point of co-working spaces. If you’re all working on different projects, how does that help you? I mean really, what’s the deal with these startup communities anyways?”

How does one explain a startup community to an outsider?

I started with what I know best: Chicago. Here’s what makes the entrepreneurial world go round, as told by a post grad, twenty something.

It starts with one person. The one with a simple life experience that makes them ask why. That questions standards and business as usual. The inquisitive spirit, passionate enough to address the issue, inspiring enough to show the value and tactful enough to recruit others. The entrepreneur.

It intrigues creative minds to come together. Opposites attract, but creative minds attract better. Unleash an idea into a sea of people like Chicago, and out of the woodwork inspired minds will come. And as conversations start, groups with forward-thinking values begin to form. The independent artists who yearned for creative freedom like Design Cloud; the seasoned entrepreneurs who wanted to help women like Strategiz. The connectors.

It inspires everyone in its path. As startups begin redesigning the processes of today to create a better tomorrow, larger corporations and companies begin taking note. The infectious spirit of entrepreneurship trickles through organizations. And soon forward-thinking companies like Resolute Consulting start acknowledging the new market and business opportunity it creates.

It flourishes in a bounty of resources. While the entrepreneurial spirit sprouts on its own, the decision makers in the city can dramatically impact the acceleration of growth. From building incubators and co-working spaces like 1871, to providing resources like the CEC, TEC and other 3 letter acronyms, the city resources nourish it with support.

Because when you put a bunch of innovative, intelligent people together, amazing things start happening. People start executing inventive ideas. They start bridging connections with nuggets of knowledge, turning concepts upside down and pulling bunnies out of regular hats. The real magic doesn’t happen on MTV cribs, the real magic happens in a startup community.
After spending time in Chicago, it all made perfect sense to me: the power of an idea, the heart wrenchting determination to succeed, the passionate people and the energy behind it all. While I’m still trying to figure out how to get these cowboy boots off, I’m excited to get my feet wet in the entrepreneurial waters here in Texas. So Houston folks, how would you explain your startup community to an outsider?