Clever. Very clever. When I saw the 2016 Kauffman Foundation Startup Activity Rankings I knew something was up.
After all the work I’ve see local entrepreneurs doing this past year I knew there was no way that the “Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News Metropolitan Region” had fallen 14 spots from 18 to 32. It just couldn’t be true.
Here’s what I’d like to believe: The powers-that-be pulled some sneaky tricks. They reported some false numbers on purpose. Right? They knew that if we sandbagged our 2016 regional numbers – that if we pretended to have a less vibrant startup community – people would lower their expectations. So clever! Now when we report our real startup density and new firm formation numbers in 2017 we will have an incredible jump to the top! We’ll be the comeback kids! We’ll be the talk of the nation! That’s just incredible.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Nobody was sandbagging our data.
We really did drop 14 points in the rankings from 2015 to 2016. We dropped more spots than any other region in the 40 that were ranked. After all the hard work that I’ve seen done first hand by entrepreneurs across the region… this was really pretty heartbreaking.
I didn’t just accept that number though. The Hatch team and I reached out to the Kauffman Foundation and got some more insight. As it turns out, we didn’t perform exceedingly worse than last year. Instead, we stayed pretty much the same and other regions picked up the pace.
We were stagnant. It’s tough news to break. No one wants to be stagnant. No one wants to see other regions pass our home in the race towards relevance.
The Hatch team has determined that we won’t take this sitting down. We aren’t packing up our bags and moving to Kansas City (yeah, Kansas City even passed us). We’re not going to sit back and just accept that our region is falling behind. We’ve put in some serious hours researching the problem, the solution, and our collective next steps.
At the State of the Startup Community Address on January 26th, we’ll break down our wins, our loses, a fresh strategy, and an action plan. It takes all of us here in the community to get back on track. We all play a role in this and we’ll help you find out how you can help. We hope you’ll join us at our third State of the Startup Community Address because we’ve got a lot of work to do.
The Third Annual State of the Startup Community Address will feature a startup showcase, copious refreshments, a keystone address, and actionable takeaways so you can get involved. You can snag tickets here: startwithhatch.com/ssca