San Diego Next: Executive Summary
We believe entrepreneurism is spread evenly across the population. Therefore, entrepreneurs should be representative of our entire community. If entrepreneurism was based solely on ability, you would already see this representation happening. However, ability is not enough. Opportunity is the key to becoming an entrepreneur. We must expand this opportunity throughout our entire community.
Opportunity: Create San Diego NEXT
One extremely important missing piece of this puzzle is a physical space. A single place where we can harness the development of entrepreneurism in our community. This is the place where everyone knows to direct someone who is ready to explore what’s next. Designers, developers, entrepreneurs, founders, community members, visitors, guests… this is the place to go to find out what’s NEXT. The active space creates opportunity for collisions, connections, and new relationships. Individuals will be engaged in ways not currently possible and will have access to opportunities that are currently unimaginable. The space will be a resource center, active learning space, community welcome center, and skills development environment. It is not however the final destination but merely the launching point prior to the next adventure. This is San Diego NEXT.
Entrepreneurs should have the opportunity to earn their way to the additional resources needed to build great companies. These companies can contribute to our community through goods and services, job creation, and economic sustainability for the region. Entrepreneurism is an important skill. So important, in fact, that it should be considered the first “E” in STEEAM. Once someone understands their ability to create change in the world, the possibilities are endless. This can be applied to everything from starting your own company to being the best employee in an established. There is always a better way, and entrepreneurism can guide us with the skills needed to discover them.
Companies worth more than one billion dollars are commonly referred to as unicorns. There is a common sentiment among ventures capitalists that it’s an all-or-nothing game, but not all great companies have to be unicorns. Investments are made in the most capable teams – teams who work on the biggest ideas and have the most to gain. Scalability is key. These individual companies must be able to increase output and grow at an exponential rate. This may be true when looking only at individual investments made in a single company. However, what if we expand our definition of scale to cover our entire region? When we look at a large pool of great companies, each works together to create more jobs, ramp up production, do more with less, and create a multiplying effect on our regional economic growth. We have the ability to foster an incredibly durable, high growth, and sustainable ecosystem that strengthens itself through the alliance of multiple companies working to scale in unison.
Inclusive economic development is key to sustainable regional growth. Being inclusive is far more meaningful than checking a box on diversity. Truly inclusive environments are both inviting to the broader community and encouraging for individuals to be comfortable being themselves and contributing to the conversation. Without all of these elements, diversity has little value. We have an immense amount of untapped potential within our entrepreneurial community. We need to develop new methods to create the opportunities that will allow for a greater number of individuals to earn their way to more resources.
We can make this a core value for our community. This is a collective “we.” Through the work already being done, we have been testing these concepts with great success. Our “we” consists of individuals from more than 40 regional organizations participating directly in our programs. These individuals work together to create a life cycle for entrepreneurism. There are many target organizations in our community that provide amazing programs for self-identified entrepreneurs who have been afforded the opportunity to showcase their ability to succeed. Most of these programs receive applications from far more individuals who are not fully prepared. Working together, we have provided a life cycle to help individuals earn their way to more resources. Individuals can learn the skills needed to run good experiments, collect valid data, analyze information, and make great decisions. From there, they can build teams and have a much better opportunity to gain acceptance into one of the target organization’s programs. This is how we create a life cycle for entrepreneurism. The best part is that things don’t have to start there. There is boundless potential in entrepreneurial individuals who have not yet self-identified as entrepreneurs. Through our scout program, we work with community leaders who are far outside the traditional startup ecosystem to help us identify individuals who have entrepreneurial traits and problem-solving skills. It’s through this network of people and organizations working to identify individuals in our community, that we are able to scale a program for the entire region.