Open Source Entrepreneurship

I’ve been working on designing and developing a platform for the Social Times that will embrace and support entrepreneurial communities. The more I think about the concept, the more I realize that the platform is ultimately open-source entrepreneurship. What do I mean by that? No single person can build an entrepreneurial community. Also, no single system can theoretically be designed by a group of two or three people that will effectively build the community.

For proof of that go read this PDF on “Building Entrepreneurial Communities: the Appropriate Role of Enterprise Development Activities.” This is a study that spanned twenty years, close to one thousand entrepreneurs and more than one hundred entrepreneurship assistance providers. I highly recommend taking the time to read it if you want to learn more about building these communities.

In the report, one paragraph stood out to me because I felt it most accurately described the flaw with having a centralized entrepreneurial platform.

We have repeatedly observed ambitious public entrepreneurs who take on these assignments with the primary goal of establishing model programs that would bring accolades to themselves and their sponsors. These initiatives then become competitions for attention, fueled by a talent for publicity, not performance. In these situations, such individuals act alone, under the belief that they can do it better than and without the help of anyone else in the community and under the need to do so in order to garner all the glory.

If anybody is concerned that this is what will result from the Social Times, I can assure you this won’t happen. The new tools that we will be adding to this site enables “the community” to build content that helps everybody. We will also be highlighting the community members and their content on a regular basis. It is our job to help find and support the superstars in the community and help them to leverage social technology to achieve success beyond our own.

We will also be creating programs that help to support those enterprising individuals that want to host events or create other programs that support the community. We want to help the community, not compete with it. We will start by adding a community directory as well as a business directory organized by metropolitan area. The first area will of course be D.C. but we will be expanding rapidly.

I hope to have these two directories up within a week but as you probably know, estimating when a project will be complete is more of an art then science. Is there anything that you would like to see us add to the site? Any other thoughts?