Musings on Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
What Does an Entrepreneurial Village Look Like?
Questions about the geography of entrepreneurship resulted in my founding Pioneer Entrepreneurs. In my experience, the Internet Age means that distance means less, but the specific characteristics of place matter more. Neil Takemoto, President of CoolTown Studios in Washington D.C., takes the argument a step further. He sees a connection between the built environment and entrepreneurship.
Neil sees an intensified interest in entrepreneurship that is driven by two factors. First of all, he perceives a largely generational re-definition of the American Dream as meaning being able to do what you want, where you want. Second, he sees entrepreneurship as the natural outgrowth of superior connectedness. By that, he means the opportunity to learn from casual conversations that are facilitated both by technology and through the physical environments in which we live, work, and play. Windows Audio | MP3 Audio
As Neil described it to me last week, a "cool town" is the manifestation of what entrepreneurs and other creative people want in their built environment. Per Neil, that often means walkable, 24-hour, mixed-use urban villages in which a diverse group of people work, eat, shop, and hang-out. That can mean places like Cambridge, Massachusetts or San Francisco. But in the end, cool means genuine and depends upon the nature of the existing community.
Although building a cool community sounds contrived, Neil argues that the status quo in the real estate development world is what is contrived. He characterizes the current norm as top-down and forced. A handful of people build a neighborhood and offer it on a take-it-or-leave it basis. For Neil and his colleagues, however, all of the business world is increasingly a customer-driven one. Consequently, they see a more natural, and more profitable, route in building places in response to customers' stated wants and needs. Windows Audio | MP3 Audio
CoolTown Studios was created to give voice to entrepreneurs, GenX-ers, GenY-ers, and other creatives so they can shape the built environment of their communities. Neil and his colleagues aspire to connect those key customers with developers and real estate investors who see value in understanding and responding to customer needs. Windows Audio | MP3 Audio
CoolTown Studios and Pioneer Entrepreneurs have teamed up to find out what entrepreneurs are looking for in the built environments of their community. Click here to participate in an online discussion.