Austin's unique "BE"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't be part of the scenery, be a part of the scene!

As told by ATXEquation student Ben Lorimer

Starfish or Spider? These two models of networking have very different qualities. Out of context, other than the shape, these two entities are very different. In the context of scenes and social networking, they too, are very different. The spider can be seen as a centralized entity; it can't function without all of its parts. It has a clear leader and works to make economical profits. What is a starfish? Well, we look at the starfish as a decentralized model of human management of a network. One important quality to focus on when talking about a starfish is to understand the adaptability it has. If you cut off one of its legs, it will grow back; in some cases, a whole new starfish can regenerate from just one leg. Why then, is this model favorable? The beauty of this design feature is that there is no one true leader. Anyone can take on that role through example, but the important part of this is that the whole system works together to create something other than just market capital.

We have three areas of capital interest to look at: market, social, and political. We assign the spider to market capital, the starfish to social capital, and have political capital as an area in between the two. We see the starfish as a favorable model because of its commitment to adaptability and creating more and more social capital. Sure, market capital helps the world go round, but we want to step back from that and look at this in smaller sections. Take Austin for example. Austin is a city booming in entrepreneurial involvement. It's the "be yourself" city! This scene focuses around the starfish model. You can have one area of involvement and interest, but if it doesn't work out, breaking off and finding another suitable area of interest is possible, thus creating more and more social capital.

This is where we see the awesome example of Bijoy Goswami and his involvement in the entrepreneurial scene here in Austin. We talked about how Austin is being nationally recognized for its entrepreneurship, but which kind. Bootstrapping! Austin is the be yourself city, so why should that change in relation to local business? We're a city of unique people with unique ideas. Starting a local business, though Austin is full of them, isn't an easy task. It is more important that you first understand who you are and what you want to accomplish. That is the first stage of this model; the you stage. Second, it's the question stage. This is where you awaken and figure something out that you have a passion for and want to progress this passion on an entrepreneurial journey. Third, we have the ideation stage where you start "doing". Networking, talking to people, and getting your idea out in the community. Fourth, the Valley of Death. This is where you start to get your return on investment in a social sense. Never underestimate the power of social capital. From there, the final stage is growth. If the networking has been achieved, then your business may start to grow and expand further than you might have expected.

It's not about one leader in the entrepreneurial world; it's a collection of leaders that work together to exchange social capital with one another that will in turn help each other's entrepreneurial goals come to reality. Remember, don't be part of the scenery, be a part of the scene!


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