Most entrepreneurs care about building successful businesses that solve large problems. They work tirelessly into the wee hours of the night, forgoing large salaries and quality time with their families, for the possibility of success. Nothing is guaranteed and I don’t know an entrepreneur who would want anything given to them. This is the modern day school of hard knocks. One day you are on top of the world and 24 hours later you don’t know if your company will last the rest of the month.
In an environment where there is so much volatility, it never hurts to have support organizations to help calm the seas. Here in the Triangle, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development is one of the largest and most well-respected support organizations. They have been around for over 30 years and are responsible for multiple conferences, an educational lunch series, networking events, and a robust mentorship program, among other things. To be completely transparent, I am a member of CED and regularly attend many of their events.
Yesterday, CED unveiled the Triangle Network Map at their annual members-only conference. This map has been under construction for months and is the product of many individual’s input. Here is my issue with this “Network Map”:
How does this help my business grow? How does it help me gain more customers? How does it help me attract the best talent? How does it help me avoid making a fatal mistake?
The answer is obvious – it doesn’t. Now I am not completely against having some sort of resource that gives outside investors or entrepreneurs a quick snapshot of the region’s density. But does this tool do the trick? Does it really help the individual companies that are already here? I predict it won’t. While the CED has the best intentions with the Triangle Network Map, it has fallen short of the potential it could have. In an effort to provide a solution, I want to issue a challenge to the CED.
Let’s measure the effectiveness of the Triangle Network Map and publish the results. Let’s measure the amount of traffic, where the traffic is coming from, which companies benefit from it, which individuals benefit from it, and how (if at all) does it help propel a local startup closer to “success.” Most of this can be done through Google Analytics, but the key is to publish the results. If the Map is a wild success, I will be the first to praise it. If it fails, let’s bring together the community to figure out how to tweak the “digital front door” so that it can be more valuable.
In closing, the CED is a great organization that tackled a difficult problem. I commend them on their propensity for action. In my opinion (what I think really doesn’t matter at the end of the day) the solution can be tweaked to become much more valuable. Instead of guessing, let’s measure the impact and then create an open discussion around what can be improved. By nature, entrepreneurs are collaborative and open, I hope the largest entrepreneurial organization in the region is ready to do the same!
UPDATE: According to WRAL, this map will cost $100,000 a year to maintain as well. I am not privy to the itemized costs but that seems excessive all by itself.