Chapter 1: Discover Your Community -
Tomorrow Toolkit for Entrepreneurs
Discover Your Community By Lalita Clozel
There are resources all around you. Before you do anything, find out more about what support exists nearby or beyond to help you start right.

There are resources all around you. Before you do anything, find out more about what support exists, nearby or beyond, to help you start right.

In early 2015, after years of helping to organize the Baltimore startup community, Mykel Nahorniak announced he was relocating the headquarters of his online event management startup Localist to Silver Spring, Maryland, to be closer to the Washington D.C. tech community.

Though the two areas share much, the move still presented Nahorniak with a new community to join.

It would have been easy for him to stay put in his 3,500-square-foot office space with his 10 team members. But after his experience in the Baltimore tech community, he knew there was lots of benefit to be had by being more involved locally. There are resources and network support that can help a young company grow and prosper.

So even though he has to sell his software to clients wherever they are, he takes a local approach to connecting. Access to global communication tools or not, he wants to know other entrepreneurs and technology firms nearby, and he’s able to navigate those waters.

“We’re all people, we all want to connect.” So Mykel Nahorniak's advice to find a network of support is to get out there and find who is nearby.

He knew how to be the “new kid on the block,” as the founder put it. Nahorniak has a collaborative view of entrepreneurship: “We’re all people, we all want to connect.”  So his advice is to get out there and meet people.

Networking in the community had lots of benefits for Annie Eaton, the CEO of Atlanta-based augmented reality company Futurus. The city is home to successful tech companies such as Yik Yak and Mailchimp, as well as Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot and UPS. In a local community, the people that work at those companies are all connected by their proximity within a city.

“I cannot emphasize networking enough,” Eaton said. “We had relationships with other companies that would introduce us to their network of people at even bigger companies. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with large Fortune 500 companies mainly through the power of networking.”

In the Denver-Boulder area, Toby Krout said that the community is made up of entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as the organizations that support them and potential corporate partners.

“I think the integration, the value that is in being in the fabric of the community is maybe the most important and most valuable thing to an entrepreneur,” said Krout, managing director of Boomtown accelerator in Boulder. And those communities aren’t limited to a single city. The tech community in Boulder boasts its own network of nationally-known players and businesses, as well as meaningful connections to the growing community in Denver and Colorado as a whole.

One of the biggest distinctions of building a business today is access to information. With the explosion of online learning tools and their in-person extensions in the form of events and entrepreneurship programs, it’s foolish to go it alone. Start with that mindset.

Your Checklist:

  • You’re not alone: One thing is certain, there are entrepreneurship communities surging across the country and an increasing array of resources ready to support you. Come to expect that you’ll find them. To help, we are producing infographics to introduce you to some local communities, including ones for each of the Tomorrow Tour stops. Join the Philadelphia startup community with this one, and Denver with this one, and Miami, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta. Plus there are similar efforts to group knowledge about startup communities, like the popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to Boston.
  • Flex your social media might: Follow anyone and everyone who relates to your interests, both topically and geographically, on whatever your social media platform of choice — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, reddit, or any other. You’ll discover conversations and people who can help you find your path. 
  • Find your entry point: Most entrepreneurship communities have many places to start to learn about the community and what it offers. It might be a local news organization (like or a local reporter you like), or an event series, including annual gatherings like Philly Tech Week or Denver Startup Week or eMerge Americas in Miami, or more regular monthly Tech Meetups. The places that host those events, such as incubators and coworking facilities, are key meeting points for the Denver-area community, Krout said. Nakorniak joined DC angel investors club K Street Capital to find others. In Atlanta, the ATDC incubator at Georgia Tech is a central gathering point for the community.
  • Speak with friends: Get a warm introduction to someone who is already active and aware of the landscape. Buy them coffee, lunch or cocktails. Offer value and get something in return. When Nahorniak was coming to the DC community, he reached out to employees of other prominent local tech companies, like Contactually, Social Tables and LivingSocial to “talk shop,” along with DC Tech Meetup founders Zvi Band and DJ Saul. 
  • Attend events: You need to get out and meet people to better understand what resources are available. Later on in this Toolkit, we tell you how to get more out of the networking you do.
  • Check our resources: In Section G, we offer some additional reading for other places to look for help.
  • Right Now: Find Twitter lists like the ones we maintain at about your local startup city. Search and follow people who are nearby and talking about issues you care about.

The point is there is almost surely a plethora of resources to support you. Start with the plan to engage locally, and you’ll benefit soon.

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