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Story of a Startup Catalyst Points to the Power of Regions in Kauffman Foundation Paper


Learnings from Startup America Partnership’s first 18 months show networks and resources critical for startup growth should begin at the regional level

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – How does a newly formed nonprofit organization tasked with helping entrepreneurs across America effectively serve startups that are in different places, in different industries and with wildly different needs? Region by region.

This is the central lesson found in “The Start Uprising,” a white paper released today by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that examines where the Startup America Partnership started and where it is now. It is a story chock full of lessons for anyone interested in being a catalyst for entrepreneurship.

Launched at the White House in January 2011 as a demonstration project by the Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation, Startup America Partnership initially focused on helping entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground by delivering free or low-cost services and connecting them with large corporations.

By mid-2012, however, the initiative’s leaders had discovered that what startup entrepreneurs need most is the mentorship and fellowship of other entrepreneurs who can help them avoid missteps and point them toward customers, funders and talent. This learning shifted Startup America Partnership’s focus toward becoming the catalyst for a movement of entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, through startup regions.

“This paper sums up why a startup region strategy has become Startup America Partnership’s organizing principle, and how their experience can benefit any organization that wants to promote entrepreneurship,” said Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “What Startup America Partnership seeks to achieve is critically important to America’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity. The more they can provide connections and resources locally that help startups grow faster, the more quickly these companies will become job creators.”

Pivoting to regional hubs was a response to what the Startup America Partnership team learned was a lack of connectedness among entrepreneurs and is consistent with Kauffman research that challenged misconceptions about where high-growth companies start and what entrepreneurs need to succeed.

“Whether it’s our work in the private sector or social sector, we are reminded time and time again that impactful, dynamic networks are powered by grassroots structures and community-minded ideas and people,” said Steve Case, chairman of the Startup America Partnership and CEO of Revolution. “We’re excited about redoubling our efforts to help grow robust local networks of entrepreneurs, which evidence shows can lead to a much greater chance of sparking regional economic growth.”

The white paper traces Startup America Partnership’s evolution over the past 18 months and includes interviews with leaders of state startup regions.

Startup America Partnership aims to create visible networks so that a startup in one city can be connected to the other startups and leaders in that city, as well as to those in adjacent cities and to the entire country. Once those networks exist, other players, from government to media to educators, can engage and add value.


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