One of the warm and fuzzy myths of entrepreneurship is that of the lone dreamer, driven to work day and night, against the odds, to launch the Next Big Thing (NBT) . The myth is warm and fuzzy, but the rest is largely hogwash, except perhaps for the long hours. In particular, almost all business startups are team efforts, and there’s plenty of support all around, often just for the asking.
Which brings us to another myth…that you have to be in an innovation-friendly place like Silicon Valley (or Alley) or Boston or perhaps Austin to find counsel, support and start-up capital to launch the NBT. If you’re stuck in the Rust Belt, forget it.
Well, forget that. Columbus, believe it or not, has a surprisingly robust and active support infrastructure for business start-ups. Here’s a short list:
- Ohio Web Leaders (OWL) Founded last year by several Web marketing professionals, OWL was designed to bring together the disconnected islands of online marketing innovation in Central Ohio. While they have monthly speakers (except for summer), the group mostly serves as a Petri dish for ideas, advice, support, connections and energy. So far, membership is free (the founders and meeting sponsors pick up the tab), and anyone is welcome to attend. Learn more at www.ohiowebleaders.com
- TechLife Columbus In the spirit of collaboration, TechLife Columbus is a wiki, both in the Website and their real-life practices. Members contribute, and edit other contributions. They form new networks of like-minded techies, then hive off yet another, more focused network. They also contribute to a growing list of individuals, associations, companies, Linked-In groups, job postings, bloggers…anyone with the knowledge and energy to contribute. There’s plenty of what start-ups need in one place. Visit TechLife Columbus and take a tour.
- Tech Columbus is a public/private partnership designed to support entrepreneurship in Central Ohio. In addition to the usual services – networking, access to funding, advice and consultative help – Tech Columbus has an incubator facility that provides housing, technology support and other services to promising start-ups. Learn more at http://www.techcolumbus.org
- Ohio Tech Angels (OTA) A network of early-stage (angel) funding sources, OTA creates investment funds and brings angel investors face-to-face with entrepreneurs. The group invests in start-ups, and encourages individual investors to provide additional support for ideas they really like. And they stay involved by providing expertise and experience to help start-ups bring products to market effectively. See what OTA is doing now at www.ohiotechangels.com
- Go BIG Network Founded by serial entrepreneur Wil Shroter, Go BIG has created a subscription-based network that includes not only entrepreneurs, but service providers, funding sources, even experienced businesspeople willing to serve as advisors. Members can view profiles of current members, or post a request for support or notice of availability. In short, a high-level and highly-focused connection engine for the serious business start-up. There is no charge to sign up, and the content available is formidable, but the real action happens behind the subscription wall. Learn more at www.gobignetwork.com
There’s more, but this is a start. So if you need help, want advice, are seeking start-up capital or just need to network among like-minded entrepreneurs, pay these organizations a visit.