As Jill Enos tries to improve the environment for entrepreneurs in Green Bay, WI, she says she has studied how communities such as Boulder, CO, Kansas City, MO, and Wilmington, NC, have attempted to build startup hubs.
The key? Don’t try to be something you’re not.
That means, for example, focusing on sectors that have been historical drivers of the local economy and that have an established local talent pool, and trying to nurture new technology-enabled ventures that cater to the region’s needs, Enos says.
“If a small community tries to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem … that doesn’t connect to the true strengths of the region, it’s almost like they’re setting themselves up to fail because they’re trying to follow someone else’s model,” Enos says.
Enos has seen the Green Bay area’s entrepreneurial potential (and its challenges) over the past few years. In 2015, she co-founded N.E.W. Venture Foundry, which she says has made early-stage investments in six startups. She served as managing director of the firm until last year, when she became director of the “venture studio” at TitletownTech, an organization backed by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Seattle tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) that aims to spur innovation and economic activity in northeastern Wisconsin and beyond. (“Titletown” is a nickname for Green Bay, recognizing the 13 league championships the Packers have won over the years.) Read the full story here.