It has been a very long time since the last time I wrote anything in the public domain. The last time I did so was when I was running BugSense in order to achieve one singular goal: spread the word about our product. Essentially, that meant to either propagate a message to our network of customers, potentials hires, competitors, investors and media or add more nodes to this network: new customers, new hires, new investors, new contacts at the media.
One of the reasons I stopped writing — besides being totally consumed by “social”- is that I felt I had nothing important to say. In reality though, few people have something actually interesting to say, things that are ground breaking, exciting or unique. I forgot that writing isn’t necessarily about saying something unique and satisfy your narcissist ego but forming bonds & seeding your network.
Back in 2009, at the dawn of the Greek crisis, George Tziralis kick-started the first entrepreneurial meet up in Athens. The first participants were fellow bloggers like Nick, Panos, Niko, Alex, Stelios, Dimitris. At that time all there was, was a entrepreneurial friendly community. We didn’t produce the most authentic content and most probably we didn’t even said anything significant. But we did something that now seems a really great thing to me.
We seeded the Greek entrepreneurial ecosystem. We familiarized the local community with notions, ideas & practices that ourselves read somewhere else. We got to know each other & started forming a network a like-minded people. We then started meeting regularly and some saw the dynamic of the network & decided to form new ventures with the people they met there. Some others saw there was need for capital, and they went to create financing opportunities. Some of us then got to meet in private because we wanted to stay focused on the actual things that mattered. Some of the very same people who were writing their first blog posts in 2007 are now investing in new companies coming from people who most probably never read any of those first posts.
That community yielded the first crop of Greek startups & funds. Workable, BugSense, Transifex, Discoveroom, Taxibeat, OpenFund, LongAccess, Kamibu and other. Lots of them failed and became seeds for the next ones.
Today, there is no lack of good content, but I think we should reignite this community. We read the best content online about technology, innovation and change. But do we do enough to familiarize our immediate network with these concepts? Is our immediate network strong? Who are the new entries? Can we reach ever further to more experiences and successful people? What’s in it for them? Are we following the big opportunities in the world? What are those opportunities that we — with all our limitations — can work on?
I am pretty sure many people are up to date — on an individual level, though. We need to magnify the best ideas and spread them outside our immediate technology-friendly network.
Since 2009 I have been living in the startup world. I failed too many times because I was ignorant but most importantly because I didn’t belong to any network that would change my perception. Fast forward in 2016I know only one thing: it’s all about the network. Different networks have different entry fees though — we will discuss in a future post about it.
If there is one book you have to read about how real social networks change our lives, this is “Connected” by Christakis & Fowler. They summarize the networks rules in the following:
- Rule 1: We shape our Network
- Rule 2: Our Network shapes us
- Rule 3: Our friends affect us
- Rule 4: Our friends’ friends’ affect us
- Rule 5: The network has a life of its own
I got into this industry do to something I deeply care about: help people create value. At the time being, I believe that one of the most profound ways to achieve this mission is through the creation of startups. Please note though that value is not necessarily monetary, it can manifest in many ways such as network creation, technological innovation, human relationships, changes in regulation, etc.
At this point in my life, I am totally convinced that there is no way to succeed in the startup world without belonging to a strong network. What further intrigues me though is that this deep understanding of network doesn’t come from management books or startup wisdom. You can learn all about human connections by studying philosophy, psychology, politics or history or simply find it the hard way yourself.
In the posts to come, I will present on my thoughts on how changing your personal way of thinking and how positioning yourself and your team in the right network are the catalysts for value creation.