Trying to copy tech hubs is the worst thing small startup communities can do

I co-founded and ran a startup accelerator in Hong Kong, a city which was recently called the number one tech capital to watch by Forbes.

That being said, Hong Kong is not yet what we’d call a tech hub. And neither are the thousands of other locations around the world that have emerging startup communities.

With a deeper look at the attention paid to stories coming out of tech hubs and an evaluation of your local strengths, you can determine whether your local startup community should do something a little different. In most cases, I bet you should.

Here are some examples of how not to copy and what to do instead.

Refrain from copying qualities that are superficial

Pitch events – having a selected group of startups pitch a panel of judges in front of a startup community audience – are sold as startup rites of passage, ways to raise money and ways to find customers… but they are rarely those things. They are much more often distractions from real work.

Your customers are probably not other startup people or the judges, so why spend so much time with these groups? The winners of pitch events are more often the organizers, not the startups.

Another superficial quality copied is the attention put on bringing startup world celebrities to local communities. Startup celebrities are high-profile people from the startup world – founders, investors, mentors – who have gained national or international renown.

I often see local startup communities try to attract celebrities to local events, even flying them out to participate and speak as though their presence would help change and grow the local community. Like the pitch events above, this is also not a good use of limited resources. The sense of wonder that these celebrities may help ignite is the least of your concerns.

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