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Jeff Harbach Jeffrey Harbach

How to Build an Entrepreneurial Community

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

First decide where you want to live. Then build your company and your network.

Many people who want to be a part of an entrepreneurial community think there are only a select few cities where that happens. Not true! The fact is, entrepreneurial communities exist in all corners of the world.

Brad Feld, partner at the Foundry Group and author of Startup Communities, suggests picking the place where you want to live and help build your work and community around it. As Thomas Friedman says in his new book Thanks for Being Late, if it is not happening, then you’re not doing it.

Feld, who is also a co-founder of Techstars, believes that most cities of more than 100,000 are good breeding grounds for entrepreneurial activity. But we can’t wait for this activity to magically happen.

He cites four essentials he argues are necessary for building a start-up community: a critical mass of entrepreneurial leaders who embrace creating something new; a long-term view of at least 20 years to make that community a place where dreams can become reality; a philosophy to welcome everyone who wants to engage at any level around that purpose and, finally, a commitment to have lots of activities and events that engage people in the actual act of entrepreneurship.

You can create the community you want with the right outlook! But it starts with you.


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