Mr. Feld describes startup communities as self-governing bodies of craftsmen akin to medieval guilds. The first point of his “Boulder Thesis” (named after the city in Colorado where he lives) is that entrepreneurs must lead. A second is that a startup community must be open to anyone who wants to join. But the main message is that you must “give before you get.”
For an individual, giving before getting is good business. In a fast-moving and uncertain industry he may need someone’s help some day. “It’s about building social capital,” says Hussein Kanji of Hoxton Ventures, a London venture-capital fund. More important, though, business in ecosystems is not a zero-sum game. Tom Eisenmann of Harvard Business School explains that startup colonies are platforms with strong network effects, a bit like Windows and Facebook: the more members they have and the more activity they generate, the more attractive they become.