This blog is written by one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County.
I woke up this morning already feeling less than optimally productive because I didn’t even take a swing at seeing Elon Musk’s newly added session today, and he is basically my hero.
The line was around the block, down the street and possibly spilled over the Mexican border. I probably should have tried to sneak in because that’s what Elon would do, but whatever, I had more important work to do.
Today was the day of startup culture sessions, some were based on specific topics related to successfully creating an entrepreneurial culture, one that creates jobs and investment, and some consisted of individual city pitches promoting their cities as startup hubs.
To give you a sense of the intensity here in terms of the pitching, a new city pitched every 15 minutes for hours – Honolulu, Albuquerque, Denver, Istanbul, Chicago, Dublin (the one in Ireland), Paris, little old Lincoln in Nebraska, and more.
Since startup and tech is the sector I am here to delve into, I was excited to take these sessions in, and I definitely came away with thoughts on how to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture of Mansfield.
First, it is important to note that creating a startup or entrepreneurial culture has many benefits beyond economics. It has a profound effect of bringing in diverse skills and mindsets and demographically speaking attracts new residents that skew younger and generally prefer downtown urban living as it acts as a platform for the exchange of ideas.
Then it snowballs from there.
That all being said, what I came to understand more clearly is that we have many aspects of a startup culture already in place inside Richland County.
We have the Brain Tree incubator and Idea Works co-working space downtown, innovation centers at the university level by way of North Central State and the OSU Branch, and the beginnings of individual innovation groups or clubs like the Mansfield Makerspace and the upcoming TEDx Mansfield event, a willing network of mentors and growing avenues to capital. That is not an exhaustive list, but the point is we are well on the way.
What stuck out to me today -- and it makes common sense -- were the discussions of aggregating resources and to make sure they leverage one another. No one group or institution needs to do all of the heavy lifting but the events, programming, networking and resources do need to show up in one place, like a well maintained website, for maximum impact. Additionally a strategic outlook considering all of the decentralized resources as a whole is valuable.
Implicitly these groups must work together and have an open dialogue to drive real entrepreneurial culture development
The more subtle things that came through were the use of quantitative measures of success that these cities used to track success, they are really on top of it.
All said and done, I left thinking about the pitch from Lincoln, Nebraska. They have a great success story there and have enjoyed the organic development of numerous companies. The representative kept saying, we have a vibrant authentic downtown with a great music scene and all of the amenities of a real city. I thought to myself… So does Mansfield.
We can do this.
Stay tuned and follow the progress via #SXSW419. And watch for more blogs at richlandsource.com/rising_from_rust/sxsw.