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Jeff Harbach Jeffrey Harbach

Successful Founders Understand the Value of Community

Entrepreneur LogoThe following story was a guest column by Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach in Entrepreneur.

A network requires a concerted effort, but is well worth it.

Ask any successful entrepreneur what their secret is, and they’ll likely credit the community of support they surround themselves with. More than just a cheering section, these networks help reduce the loneliness of the entrepreneurial journey, serve as feedback chambers for good ideas and allow founders to accelerate their development as business leaders in a supported, effective way.

It’s about feeling part of something bigger than themselves, with guidance and direction to help move them along the path toward their ultimate goals.

I learned this firsthand while working with startups in the Austin, Texas area. The network of support that is available to entrepreneurs in Austin is second to none and remains a big reason why so many successful companies, in so many different industries, come out of that area.

Suzanne Fletcher, fund manager of the Stanford-StartX Fund, is another big believer in community, saying that, in her experience, the most successful founders are those who make proactive, concerted efforts to build strong peer support networks right alongside their companies. She should know, as she has overseen investments in more than 175 StartX companies across more than 250 rounds, from seed through Series D, in industries including enterprise, consumer, hardware and medical.

What do all these founders have in common? They know that they can’t do it alone. They know that they need help. And they are all active participants in the community of StartX entrepreneurs. In the video above she explains why community is such a powerful force for founders, and how to find yours.


Jeff HarbachJeff Harbach (Class 16) is President and CEO of Kauffman Fellows. Jeff has been an entrepreneur and investor since 2002, and was Executive Director of the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), based out of Austin, TX, from 2011–2013, where he served his fellowship. He has led multiple startups, including two 7-Eleven stores, a luxury furniture store and interior design firm, and a private country club golf network. He was also an angel investor himself with the Vegas Valley Angels. Jeff holds a BS from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin. jharbach@kfp.org