My new venture fund Firebrand Ventures and KC-based coworking company Plexpod recently announced a partnership. The Plexpod Westport Commons (PWC) space will be the biggest coworking facility in the world! It’s also adjacent to Westport, a vibrant KC entertainment district. Here are some of the reasons why I’m so excited about this partnership:
Providing Key Programming and Access
It’s often hard for entrepreneurs to find high quality, in-person content that can directly help their startup. I’m going to take the best content I’ve curated from my experiences as an entrepreneur and investor and provide it to the companies at PWC. These will include talks, workshops, and panels. I’ll deliver some of it, and will also bring in other experienced folks. Programming will be delivered to additional Plexpod locations too.
During my 25+ year career I’ve learned how valuable mentorship is. Most successful entrepreneurs have had mentors and advisors to help guide them. I’m gotten to know many fantastic mentors through programs like Techstars and look forward to connecting them with Plexpod companies.
Being a Visible and Accessible Investor
I’ll be based at PWC so it’ll be home base for Firebrand Ventures. One of the values that makes Firebrand different is our pledge to be accessible and visible to founders. What better way to demonstrate this than work from the world’s largest coworking space? Plus as a former founder myself I really enjoy being around entrepreneurs!
And Yes, Investments
A natural result of building relationships with founders is I’ll want to invest in the ones that meet our criteria in a very compelling way. I’ve talked and written about how critical it is for entrepreneurs and investors to build real relationships, and I’m really excited to get to know plenty of founders at PWC.
An Ecosystem within an Ecosystem
Anyone who’s read Brad Feld’s Startup Communities knows it takes several types of participants working together to create a well functioning startup ecosystem: entrepreneurs, universities, government, investors, mentors, service providers, and corporations. Just as the greater KC startup community is making progress engaging these different participants, the sheer number of companies working from PWC makes it an ideal place to bring all these parties together. It’s a mutually beneficial dynamic so all participants will get something great out of it, especially when using the “give first” approach.
Startup density is critical to building a great startup ecosystem. In this case startup density is defined as having a large concentration of startups in a physical area. A central coworking space or neighborhood is key – just look at Boulder (downtown/Pearl St.), Chicago (1871), and Austin (Capitol Factory). The KC startup community has been fairly spread out with pockets of activity in the Crossroads, Startup Village and even Overland Park. PWC will quickly become that central hub our community needs to take it to the next level.
The Bubble of Support
When you get a group of hustling founders working in close proximity they often start helping each other in meaningful and unexpected ways. I’ve seen this first hand while running Techstars programs. Just as community is key to the Firebrand Ventures platform, this spirit of collaboration and “give first” will be hallmarks of PWC.
A Big Milestone
I’ve visited many startup communities across the U.S. and Plexpod Westport Commons is a very big deal for Kansas City and the Midwest. David Brain (SDP) and Gerald Smith (Plexpod) made it happen. As I got to know David and Gerald it became clear we all share a passion for building our community through action and collaboration.
The past four years have seen great advances for Kansas City including Google Fiber, the Startup Village, Techstars, and the Smart City initiative. Plexpod Westport Commons is the next big milestone and I’m proud to be a part of it!