This is quite evident in Madison. We have several co-working offices in that provide entrepreneurs a space to work and collaborate. Madison has a few accelerator groups where companies gain useful advice from experienced mentors and needed funding. One Million Cups is a weekly coffee klatch where entrepreneurs present to the local community.
I’m involved in Merlin Mentors, a mentoring group for entrepreneurs based on MIT’s model. My expertise in recruiting, sales and marketing has allowed me to share my knowledge and meet some enthusiastic entrepreneurs. They are eager to learn from experienced and successful business people in the Madison community.
A bit more about Merlin. Merlin mentee’s have to do (2) pitches to a small group of mentors. If they pass the 1st pitch (5 minutes) they move on to a larger audience. No computers are allowed so the Mentees have to know their subject well. After the pitch, a discussion ensues as to which mentors can advise which mentee and the “match” is setup. Mentees call and lead the meetings and it’s rather free form in nature allowing for collaborative idea generation.
Merlin Mentors is a great chance for me to give back to my community and see entrepreneurs thrive and grow. It’s a powerful collaboration that works! Mentees are tracked on their success and report back to the organization. Socials are held to commend the entrepreneurs and toast to their success. Madison is well on it’s way to a successful startup ecosystem.