Attracting Smart People to Your Community Accelerates Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial communities grow up around smart people. Whenever someone in state or local government asks me what they can do to accelerate entrepreneurship, I always tell them to put as much money and energy as they can into education. If you build a broad base of smart, inquisitive, curious people that are long term members of your community (e.g. they don't move somewhere else), you'll be delighted with the results over a long period of time (think 20+ years).

The Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida, one of the most thoughtful writers and thinkers about entrepreneurial communities, recently identified Boulder as the "brainiest city in the US." Richard Florida's first book, The Rise of the Creative Class, is a must read for anyone that cares about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial communities. It forms the basis for his body of work around the notion of a creative class and has influenced plenty of my thinking in this area.

To get a feel for the data and description that names Boulder as the Brainiest City in the US, there's a quick slide show (that I can't embed) that has the following data on it.

  • Computer Math Degree Recipients: 7.84 percent
  • Science Degree Recipients: 3.15 percent
  • Graduate and Professional Degree Recipients: 24.22 percent

This reflects nicely on my post about Entrepreneurial Density from a week ago. 25% of the population in Boulder has a graduate or professional degree. Don't forget that about 20% of the population of Boulder are undergraduate students. That's a remarkable number.

I'm heading to Chicago early tomorrow morning to participate in a two day event around this years Excelerate program. Monday is Angel Excelerator 2010 and Tuesday is the Excelerate Demo / Investor Day. David Cohen and I are doing a talk together and we get to watch our friend Dave McClure juggle 500 hats. There are plenty of smart people in Chicago—I look forward to spending a couple of days hanging out with some of them.

Reprinted from Feld Thoughts

Brad Feld is a managing director at Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. He invests in software and Internet companies around the U.S., runs marathons, and reads a lot. Follow him at twitter.com/bfeld.

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