What Makes a Successful Startup Community? Is it Possible to Build One Where You Live?

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 | 42 comments

What Makes a Successful Startup Community? Is it Possible to Build One Where You Live?

This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.

Recently I wrote a post arguing to make the definition of a Startup more inclusive than that to which Silicon Valley, fueled by Venture Capital return profiles, would sometimes like to attach to the word.

Today I’d like to talk about what startup communities outside of Silicon Valley look like, how they emerge and what makes them take hold.

Most of what I think about startup communities came from mentorship by Brad Feld through hours of private discussion and debate.

You can now take advantage of this wisdom directly as Brad has now published it for everybody in a fantastic new book, “Startup Communities.”

Put simply, if you care about building a successful tech community outside Silicon Valley you should read this book. I will be ordering several copies for leaders in LA and will be helping to host Brad’s visit to our community later this year.

My views, influenced by watching Brad’s tireless efforts across the country, were first encapsulated in a post I wrote about Seattle titled, “A Few Key People Can Make a Huge Difference.” In that post I talked about how a few key people in any community can have an enormous impact on the fledgling success of the city or company. Think Fred Wilson, Tony Hsieh or Brad Feld.

You can read Brad’s views of how to do it in his book. Here are mine:

1. A Strong Pool of Tech Founders – Stating the obvious. Duh. But I would point out that these days there are really talented tech developers & teams everywhere. And I really mean everywhere. Ever play Zynga’s “Words with Friends” or any of their “with Friends” games? Didn’t come out of the SF facility. It came from an amazing small startup in McKinney, Texas (30 miles North of Dallas) called NewToy, which they acquired.

Think the next big startup can’t come from Dallas, TX? Think again. Angry Birds? From startup Rovio in Finland.

Think USV is only invested around Union Square in NYC?  How about in the last 12 months deals announced with Dwolla (Iowa) and Pollenware (Kansas City). I met the Pollenware team myself – they were KILLER.

2. Local Capital – I do believe that you’ll struggle to get a community started without some local capital. And in many communities that are new to building tech startups I’ve found that a lot of angel money is not very sophisticated at investing in startup companies. So you see long, drawn-out processes, non-commercial terms, investors who want to meddle too much and so on. I’ve had this conversation with several communities such as in San Diego where I believe there are way more qualified and talented engineers than available local capital to support them.

Actually, there is tons of wealth in San Diego but it isn’t organized well to support them. My suggestion is to get some of the angel groups – notorious for slow decision-making and hat passing – and pool their money into a small fund structure of say $5-10 million. Elect 1-2 representatives and even invite a local VC to invest personally and sit on the investment committee or be an advisor. The key it to have “realistic capital.”

And if aspiring investment teams are looking to get together the SBIC has come back with a new VC focused program to help non-Silicon Valley communities fund companies beyond their initial angel money. It’s a very smartly designed debenture program.

There are two reasons you need local capital. First, it is unlikely that a serious investor will commit to funding a company outside of their geographic sphere until you have a degree of success, traction, scale – whatever. So usually the first money comes locally. When you’re Dwolla anybody will travel to see you.

The second reason for local capital (this time in the form of venture capital) is that without it every company that starts scaling will have to talk to Silicon Valley VCs who – I promise you – will tell the company that they have to relocate to the Bay Area in order to be funded. If you’re super hot / successful you can resist. Otherwise, good luck!

And not that I blame them. If you’re working with early-stage companies you need to be spending quality time with them which means you need to be nearby. And with thousands if your backyard, why would you go to far flung places to find deals?

3. Killer Events – Think about what a wonderful benefit Austin gets by hosting SxSW every year. Once per year we all have a reason to be in Austin so you’re naturally going to want to get to know the local tech scene, lowering the barrier to people wanting to move there, invest there and spend time there. I’ve seen it work in Boulder with DeFrag and Gluecon. LA has the annual Monty Conference. NY has a million including the obvious ones like AdWeek. Or how about the best example – Loic Le Meur gets everybody over to Paris every year for Le Web.

It’s improbable to build the next SxSW in your city. But why not start with a niche event in a topic that can attract 200 people. And build from there.

Think about how amazing Big Omaha has been in attracting world-class tech people to that city. Call their organizers – find out how they did it!

4. Access to Great Universities – It’s hard to imagine building either a tech community or a startup community without access to great universities. For starters, as Josh Kopelman outlined in this excellent post on their Dorm Room Fund, many great innovations including Microsoft, Google & Facebook started in a dorm room.

Students are great source of ideas because they’re willing to challenge the existing norms – the basis for all disruption. And students have the latest tech skills and a whole lot more time on their hand to focus on building stuff. But beyond the idea that startups come from colleges, they are obviously a very important feeder system into local startups with cheap, young, hard-working talent.

The key is to be able to keep the best ones local. Eric Paley, managing partner at Founder Collective, told me that they had implemented a city-wide program in Boston to help local university students get internships at local tech startups. The theory being that if a startup knew some awesome local tech startups they were more likely to join after college than assuming they had to trek to Palo Alto / Mountain View to try and work at Facebook or Google.

I thought it was an amazing idea. So much so that when a friend of my family was looking for an internship at a local Boston company I contacted my friend Jeff Bussgang at Flybridge who hooked him up with interviews and he stayed in Boston rather than working in financial services in NYC for the summer. There’s a much higher probability this kid will stay in Boston now.

And then obviously you want to help recruit professors to be company advisors or advisors to local investment groups. They become the best source for spotting great talent before others do.

5. Motivated “Champions” – You need brand ambassadors for your city. You need the people who “spread the word” and who arm-twist others to visit. You need the people who make sure that when great people come their visit is impeccable.

  • In Seattle people like Dave Schappell actively recruit people like me to visit the city and when we do he becomes a “brand ambassador” for the city organizing great meetings, events & dinners. And ensuring we leave with a positive impression. Or great bloggers who spread the word far and wide like Rand Fishkin who you must read here.
  • Joshua Baer & Jason Cohen do this in Austin, Texas.
  • And of course Foundry Group is the original masters of this with perfectly organized ambassador trips to Boulder. More important they’ve helped support “must attend” events in town like Gluecon & Defrag that create reasons for people to continue to visit. And they helped David Cohen launch TechStars, which started as a Boulder-based accelerator.
  • I also learned about this amazing resource in Chicago called BuiltInChicago which I intend to use for my trip there in November. Every city should have a “BuildIn” program.

6. Local Press / Websites / Organizational Tools – New York has an amazing startup scene and the energy and momentum is palpable. It also has a built-in advantage in telling the world how awesome it’s doing – it’s the center of the media world. And so you have great local tech press like Business Insider who covers the industry very well. It’s not that BI reports on NYC, but when your journalists know lots of people and tend to see more NYC people than others they’re naturally going to have their ears bent on this “company that they invested in that is crushing it!” that is right around the corner. Seattle has GeekWire, LA has SoCalTech and so on. Local press matters.

7. Alumni Outreach – I always tell communities to find out who their famous city alumni are and seek them out. Why? Well if you’re in Detroit you’re 100x more likely to get somebody who grew up in Flint coming by twice per year for ordinary reasons unrelated to work. And so it’s much easier to catch them on the bookends of these trips to spend time in your community. And aside from the obvious pride of getting involved with your home town, you obviously know a lot more about the local strengths of human resources that places like San Francisco, NY or LA might be quicker to dismiss.

8. Wins – At the end of the day, no amount of “planning” can build a community that is seen as a success – it can just be a contributor. You will not arrive until you’re seen as having local success stories. I know that theres a lot of GroupOn bashing still in the press, but you can’t deny the kickstart its had on the local Chicago tech community. Or the huge dividends that Santa Barbara got from building GoToMeeting that sold for a nice price to Citrix. That plus CallWave spawned companies such as RightScale, AppFolio and RingRevenue – all large, venture-backed companies now. Nothing speaks as loudly as wins.

9. Recycled Capital – Fred Wilson once wrote about “recycled capital” and it’s a powerful concept. From the local wins you get pools of money from tech entrepreneurs and investors eager to reinvest it back into the community – the most likely source of a return on their capital. In Los Angeles the wins of Overture, Applied Semantics, MySpace, LowerMyBills, PriceGrabber, LegalZoom and the like have produced a large number of angels who are helping the next generation of LA entrepreneurs get started and succeed. And they have a vested interest in this success. It’s why LA is such a larger, more vibrant startup community now than it was 10 years ago. Recycled Capital has played a very important role.

10. Second-Time Entrepreneurs – The other byproduct of “wins” is you have second-time entrepreneurs who want to be founders of their next company. For every Overture or MySpace in LA you had the next tier of management who made a little bit of money and is now looking to build something massive. And they have much more experience to do it. Combine recycled capital with second-time entrepreneurs with local venture capital and you have the ignition to spark something big as we’re seeing in Los Angeles.  Machinima. Zefr. Maker Studios. ZestCash. GaiKai. Savings.com. Factual. TextPlus. Burstly. BeachMint. NastyGal. There is much magic going on in this town with both pure tech as well as media tech.

11. Ability To Attract a Pool of Engineers – We know that SF is Mecca for software engineers. But we also know that it’s incredibly expensive to live there, hard to get on the property ladder, harder to stand out, etc. These problems obvious exist in any major city.

What can you do to attract high-quality engineers who want something more? What innovative programs can you put in place to get them there in the first place? TechStars was a great method. What about if you could pool enough money together from local tech companies to provide free or cheap housing for engineers for their first year in town? Would more come? What about if you went even more ambitious and build an entire infrastructure like Tony Hsieh is doing in Las Vegas. That is awe inspiring.

And for the bonus round … to become a truly sustainable community you need:

12. Tent-pole Local Tech Companies – Seattle has them – Amazon & Microsoft. San Diego has Qualcomm. Austin has Dell. San Antonio has RackSpace. A local tech winner really creates a generational technology opportunity in the way nothing else can. It creates a feeder system of local businesses that get their first biz dev deals or sales contracts. It creates recycled capital + 2nd-time entrepreneurs … on steroids. When I look at the one thing I’m still waiting to see in Los Angeles – it’s the tent-pole company that lifts up all else. That IPOs and then continues rising. That has a B on the front. I’m willing to bet it’s coming in the next decade. I can feel it. Until then … we’ll keep plugging away.

Oh, and buy Brad’s book. You wont be sorry you did.


  • Siobhan Bulfin

    thank you thank you thank you, just what I needed to read! Are you going to Health 2.0 or StrataRX by any chance?

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Great post Mark. I strongly feel the next big company, one that that solves problems that are not the domain of the upperclass, will come from somewhere other than SV. There are many cities with interesting initiatives, like Portland and Cinncinati.

  • Siobhan Bulfin

    and Wellington, New Zealand! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ayush.ghai Ayush Ghai

    How about Dharamshala, India? http://www.metataste.com 😉

  • http://birch.co/ Mark Birch

    I think it is important to remember is that these things tend to be successful when they are 1) organic and 2) sober.

    I have seen cities try the approach to get deeply involved in building infrastructure and advertising themselves as the next mecca for XYZ. Only thing is that there is little support to continue the push, they were simply trying to import a community. Instead, it turns out more Teflon Valley than a real technology ecosystem. It takes way more as you rightly point out than simply a few office parks.

    The second point is what I have seen when people get caught in the initial euphoria. The early stages are exciting, but it takes YEARS to grow a sustainable community. This is no different than the time it takes to build a business with sustainable revenues and strong growth. This is what I saw in NYC when I returned in 2000/2001; lots of companies that were in the “digital” economy that got wiped out when the hype died and the dot com Ponzi scheme fell apart. When digital was not cool, they went back to Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

    I am a big believer of the idea of Startup Anywhere, which I wrote about last year (http://bch.me/njTMXk). The idea is that a startup can start anywhere and still be successful (a la Dwolla and Pollenware). In practice though, for a flourishing community to arise takes a whole lot of time and patience and a lot of good fortune.

  • http://www.onetact.co/ Rishi

    Mark, I guess this was written with focus on tech. startups, but I think it is important to have an accessible local market to validate a pilot. It’s probably easier to run a pure web startup/do app development from anywhere in the world, but if it’s something that has an offline component you need a market you can tap into.

  • http://erica.biz/ Erica

    Mark, I remember you and I had this conversation a few months back when you came to Austin and we talked about why I’d moved my startup, Whoosh Traffic, from San Diego to Austin. You seemed disappointed (and I understand–I will always love San Diego too!), but it couldn’t have been a better decision for my company and me.

    Since you visited, Austin has become even more epic, with Capital Factory opening up 22,000 square feet of space in downtown Austin. When you visited, there were a few of us crammed in to a small space on the 8th floor–we now have a thriving community with over 100 people working at Capital Factory and an overflowing waiting list. Credit goes to Josh Baer, Bill Boebel, Jason Cohen, and others for making Capital Factory the “hub” for startups and tech events in Austin–just what we needed!

    Last weekend I got the opportunity to mentor and speak at Lean Startup Machine Austin, and there were some amazing startups getting started there. As you know, I lived in the Valley for 10 years and bootstrapped, founded, and ran a successful tech company there. Austin has a lot of what the Bay Area had in 2002-2004–a small startup community that’s starting to pull together and really make this work.

    Whoosh Traffic just took a seed investment from 500 Startups as well as some angel investors (we’ll announce it in a bit along with some new features we’re developing), and, thanks to 500 Startups and Josh Baer, has been trending on AngelList for the past couple weeks. I fully intend to make my company yet another Austin success story, and I’ve never been more excited for the future of a small-but-thriving tech community. We know we are on the ground floor of something big and we’re all stoked to be a part of it.


    P.S. Over 50,000 people read my post on “Dear California, I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why:” http://www.erica.biz/2011/california-im-leaving-you/ I got 2 different emails from people last week alone, more than a year after I wrote it, saying that post was a major reason they packed up and headed out to Austin.

  • http://www.DavideDiCillo.com Davide Di Cillo

    Great post as usual. Regarding 2. Local Capital, I think it’s also very important to have initiatives to educate local investors. Miami, for example, does have a lot of investor, but most of it doesn’t invest in tech because they are used to invest in different areas (real estate and brick and mortar businesses).

  • http://about.me/lord_nolan Nolan Clemmons

    I’ve lived in McKinney, TX for the past 6 years. launch.wufasta.co

  • http://www.facebook.com/todayscoffey Michael Coffey

    Mark, Loved the article and honestly it was a great read for a Friday. I recently moved to Indianapolis, IN due to having an office here and in the California. I only planned on being in the midwest for 3 months to simply work with my operations team but was seriously impressed with the local tech climate here and the incentives that the state and local government provide for the startup scene. I ended up leaving the company that I started simply because my investors were wanting everything back in California to have the branding of the state. Although it was a tough choice I have been very pleased with the fact that I get to now be a part of building the tech scene in an up and coming community and not just following it. I am now a Partner at a development firm (DeveloperTown.com) that focuses on helping companies and individuals build solutions that bring more revenue to the bottom line while infusing their environment with more creative minds. I think most would be surprised if they visited this town and saw what the tech community was doing.

  • Alex Buds

    I wonder about less tangible factors which may be critical too:

    * Geographical Location. How important is natural beauty and good weather? The bay area certainly does well in this department. I’ve heard of plenty of anectodal evidence that technical people are particularly interested in these factors.
    * Mindest of the local population – again it’s purely from anectodal stories I come across – but technical people seem to prefer more liberal areas like you find on the coasts than more conservative ones like you find in the midwest and the south, all else being equal.

  • Matt Cameron

    An interesting trend I am seeing is that for cities like Sydney, where all boxes except “local capital” are ticked, the VCs are sending emissaries from the U.S. to capitalize on the emerging ecosystems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/swfranks Steve Franks

    Nicely said. This is happening in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Founders (http://atfounders.com) and with events like Fort Wayne’s Vertical Leap (http://fw.verticalleap.co).

  • Shai Goldman

    Mark, good points. One additional item you either overlooked, is the importance of the supporting cast ie service providers. These firms (lawyers, accountants, temp CFOs, bankis/lenders, etc) play a key role in a few ways. They typically provide price friendly services for early stage startups, they provide domain expertise, they are connectors and many of them are active financial sponsors of events/conferences/programs/incubators. The service providers are typically overlooked or seen as commodity, but being the I worked for one, SVB, my perspective is that they are key to a successful startup ecosystem.

  • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

    I had the chance to meet Michael Bodekaer while I was at Startup Abroad in Bali a month ago. Super smart and well-connected guy. He’s been successfully running his own incubator in Bali for 2 years (6 companies currently) and is now focused on blowing that out of the water and building an entire campus for tech startups – http://startupcitybali.com/

    He’d definitely be a good person to chat with for anyone looking to build a startup ecosystem somewhere abroad.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Unfortunately I am not at either event. Sorry.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    It is funny just how focused on the elite user many companies in Silicon Valley (and New York / LA) tend to be.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I like that – organic & sober. And I agree it takes years. And no hype. It’s why I fight so hard against “Silicon Beach” which has been over-hyped.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster


  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    re: disappointed … for San Diego – not for you! I told you that I thought you made the right call.

    re: seed round – if there’s any left please give me a call. I liked what you’re working on.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    yes, that’s a problem. it’s why I like pooling money.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Nice! Big win for McKinney in NewToy. Great company

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    That’s good to hear. I haven’t been yet

  • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

    Yup, after reading Brad’s book, any community can follow his amazing roadmap literally and make it happen gradually. What the book made me realize the most is the distinction between Leaders (the entrepreneurs) & Feeders (everybody else). That’s a key distinction. If each one knows their roles, a lot of good things will happen. 

  • http://influitive.com/ Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I am still waiting for my amazon pre-order of Brad’s book but this post is a great warmup for the book. Thanks for writing a comprehensive post on this topic.

  • NeilCocker

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks so much for this. Incredibly useful. I’ve pre-ordered Brad’s book, and have been referring closely to his blog etc in recent months as I try to push the Cardiff (Wales) startup scene forward. The single biggest barrier we face at the moment, in my opinion, is access to *relevant* investors for startups. The high net worth individuals in the city are traditionally from backgrounds such as industrial, legal, financial services etc. There really is only one guy that I can think of that has put money into a tech startup. And I’ve trawled through them all recently in an attempt to get some angel investment for my own startup. They just don’t “get” tech companies, or are currently too reticent to invest in areas they don’t understand.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to circumvent this problem? Or is it just a case of dragging the startups to the relevant investors (primarily in London), or drag those investors, probably against their will (!), to Cardiff?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I think my next post may be about this if I can find the right way to explain it. Startup “culture”

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Maybe Aussie gov’t needs to look at how to solve the local capital issue like Singapore and other places are trying to do?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes. True. And I spoke about that in a speech this week introducing Cooley to Los Angeles. Totally agree. That said, I think service providers tend to form around where a community is growing and becoming strong. No service providers will form in a location without the business to support it.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I think the point I made about “pooling capital” across these investors is an important one but hard to pull off.

  • James Mitchell

    Paul Graham’s essay on how to be Silicon Valley is worth reading:


    There are some cities that have the potential to become serious startup hubs. As Graham says, start with a city that nerds want to live in. Foundry Group has done a great job in Boulder. But they started with Boulder, not Detroit. I doubt even someone as talented as Brad Feld could do much with Detroit.

    As for having a great university nearby, do you know how hard that is if you don’t already have one?

  • http://grandresume.com/ resume writing service

    Are you going to Health 2.0 or StrataRX by any chance?

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Everyone knows the best way to make a difference is to make a billion and then be a philanthropist. Sooooo backwards.

  • Hana Abaza

    Thanks for this post. I live in Ottawa where the startup community is beginning to take shape, arguably much more slowly than it should have. Back in the “good old days” (depending on who you talk to) the tech community was booming. It was silicon valley north predominantly filled with telecom and other hi-tech giants.

    Now, there is a distinct polarization between the “old school” tech guys and web-based and mobile companies – in mentality, approach and even geographically. The original tech community that experienced the boom is in Kanata (i.e. Terry Matthews et al). Everyone else is closer to downtown (i.e. Shopify)

    As a startup entrepreneur running a BtoC company that is heavy on content marketing, SEO and SMO etc – I often feel as though I’m speaking a different language than many of the more experienced entrepreneurs in the city. In fact, when we were first starting out I was asked about my “patent book” – a ridiculous question if you knew what we do or what stage we were at…

    Theoretically, things should have progressed here faster. There is money in the city. There are experienced entrepreneurs that have seen major success. And there is a genuine thirst for mentorship – but unless there is a platform that can connect each camp, it seems like we might be running in circles for a while longer.

  • http://twitter.com/latamstartups latamstartupblog.com

    Mark – Thanks for a great list of characteristics that support active startup ecosystems. I would encourage you to take a look at Mexico City, which is starting to grow many (if not most) of the factors you mentioned. The main exception as far as I can see is that Mexico City doesn’t have any “tent pole” companies, at least ones that support the startup ecosystem per se. Most of the other characteristics you cited are at the very least in “building mode” here. Best regards, Chris

  • Patrick Giblin

    Amazing truths in here. It takes a “Community” to build a business just as they say “It takes a village to raise a child!” San Diego is a real struggle from the inside and seems like such a good footprint from the outside. The infrastructure is tough. The other elements that you speak to are all valid and true. It CAN be done with the right people and efforts being achieved. Some of us have been pushing this for a long time down here. Eric Otterson of Cooley, Brant Cooper of Lean Start Up and some others are focused on the good of the community more than themselves. I too will do whatever I can to move someone in San Diego into a better postion because we need better leaders and ideas to stay here. San Diego is where companies are built and then leave. We need to foster better ties to this city. We need guidance and influence from people such as yourself. True ANGELS and not “pretenders”. Recycled Capital does not exist in San Deigo. We need more investment from people within 120 miles to give this city the push it needs to drop the ego and make the push. in many places there is not enough real life understanding of what it takes to get through the DEEP canyon before revenues eliminate the need to raise aggressively to stay alive. We need more Mark Suster’s down here or perhaps just a little more of your eye, ear and mouth inside of these rooms. Pull these people out of their nice country clubs and into start up circles…

    Again, I appreciate ALL the truths and insight you have given here! Very valuable stuff and worthy of multiple reads for anyone starting anywhere. I wish I could give more to this SD Community in mental and fiscal capital but so far my most valuable asset is the reality of the pains as I try to build my own value for 451 Degrees and make those around me stay here with me.

  • Maham Sony

    A nice post; there are several norms one has to follow while living in a community. Being a social animal every person has to play his or her due role to get the things moving. Similarly in a business its environment helps day and night to make it a successful venture even if it lack a bit in planning or quality control. A congenial environment all the times supports the business to grow. Similar and more advanced views regarding business environment can be found at http://www.business-environment-idn.com

  • Dino Vendetti

    Mark, Great post. I spent the last dozen years in SV as a VC and recently launched an accelerator in Bend OR ( http://www.founderspad.com ) where I’m seeing some really interesting and talented entrepreneurs. I totally agree with the trend toward regional markets and it’s being made possible by the huge cost reduction in getting a SU to the point of good customer traction and product-market fit. Check out the Bend scene sometime if you get a chance. The Bend Venture conference is oct 18-19, http://www.bendvc.com, and there was a recent article in Entrepreneur mag on Bend, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223997?fb_ref=fbrec. Would love to host you there sometime.

  • http://twitter.com/craig_montuori Craig Montuori

    Be sure to connect with Matt Hunckler, welcome to Indianapolis!

  • http://twitter.com/craig_montuori Craig Montuori

    I’ve heard that startups who’ve taken Singapore grant money hav had some difficulty with follow-on funding, as a potential caveat.

  • Michael

    It seems you have covered the main points of a collaborative community that is critical to help start ups or growing companies grow. We publish a free directory of private investors and venture capitalists who have recently helped private companies grow and exit through an IPO at http://www.Private2IPO.com it might be helpful to some business owners.

  • http://about.me/jerryhingle Jerry Hingle

    Great post, and lots of interesting points made. I never thought of a great university as something integral to a startup, but thinking about it makes a lot of sense.