Mentoring is also a more significant part of the economy today than since, perhaps, apprentorship in the craftsman age. Why? The rise of entrepreneurship and the freelance economy is similar to the craftsman age since as the very structure of the economy undergoes massive transformation, workers are increasingly required to find their own means of making a living.
During the Industrial age, most labor was focused on optimizing repeatable tasks. Repeatable tasks are taught. Mentoring was more focused on developing leadership qualities, responsible for corporate management. See Blank’s Sloan vs Durant. Today’s mentoring must teach leadership, too, but additionally, the nature of entrepreneurship.
With Brad Feld coming to town this week, I think it’s a good time to evaluate the state of San Diego’s Startup Community. If you don’t know Brad, you should take a few minutes to learn more about him. He is an entrepreneur turned investor, a co-founder of the TechStars accelerator program, a prolific author and a community builder. Last year he published Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, which explores the ingredients necessary to have a thriving startup scene. The challenges Brad discusses are spot on and I highly recommend the book.
I first met Brad in the Fall of 2010, when he and TechStars co-founder David Cohen came to San Diego as part of their Do More Faster book tour. San Diego didn’t represent; it was a pitiful showing. Brad told the audience San Diego was 10 years away from having a solid startup ecosystem and he challenged, “who in the audience is committed to leading the effort for 10 years?” A few hands raised up, some by those merely seeking affirmation and the chance to pitch Brad on their failing startup. (When Andrew Beinbrink and I pressed those after the meeting to join us in building San Diego Tech Founders, they evaporated faster than dollars in a freemium business model.)
Whether there’s a tech bubble or not is an interesting discussion going on in the blogosphere. (Reading guide is below.)
I fall into the “boom before bubble” pack. Having lived through the 90s’ bubble, there’s no way we’re there yet. That doesn’t mean there won’t be one, but my feeling is we’re skating a razor’s edge off one side of which looms another wave of housing foreclosures and a doom & gloom Sequoia presentation. Investors herding like sheep around darling Silicon Valley startup memes is not in itself bubblicious, it’s SOP. Sheep investing affects supply and demand conditions that result in higher valuations. Good or bad, that doesn’t in itself represent a bubble.
The Internet bubble was about more that overvalued startups. Horowitz and Graham argue other dynamics way better than I can (see links below), but I think it’s important to point out that bubbles dramatically affect the entire economic climate. The bubble was “our” version of 70s inflation. The bubble caused a huge migration of people to the SF Bay Area. Salaries went through the roof (not just for engineering talent.) So did cost of living. In the 90s, the housing bubble was inseparable from the Internet bubble. The buying of lots of different goods became irrational.