The newest stuff is at the bottom. The Los Alamos Entrepreneur's Network went for a while, died in the real world, and has been resurrected in a completely different, much more social media form.
I went to a surprisingly productive meeting last night of the Los Alamos Entrepreneur's Network. We met at the Hive and started to talk about how to use the Hive to get networking and products done in Los Alamos and independent of LANL and government grants.
The next meeting is at noon on 12 January and should be productive.
It was productive for a while. I was the president for a while. I ran meetings with clear agendas. Then, in March 2012, the members had their first official election. They elected a guy who promised to do nothing entrepreneurial. He wanted to chat with people. They elected a vice president who had never come to any meetings.
I did the entreprenuerial thing. I calculated my Return on Investment on going to the meetings or planning activities for the members. The ROI was strongly negative. The Entrepreneur's network had become a coffee klatch.
So I did what any good entrepreneur should. I kept talking to the entrepreneurs that I had met and stopped doing anything with the Los Alamos Entrepreneurs' Network. I told my friends among the members that I would come back when my personal ROI exceeded 1.2.
So far I seem to have made the right decision.
There are now, as of June 2012, two entrepreneurs' networks. The LAEN mentioned above, which still has meetings, latest on acupuncture demonstrations, and the other one of business owners trying to increase their sales and create a fiscally healthy, high quality of life, Los Alamos that lasts to at least 2022. The dynamics of creating this robust community are instructive, especially if you view a community from the point of view of a company (see "Power, Inc."). When viewed as a company investing in its own long term health, Los Alamos seems to be spending money on short term, 'feel good' projects and not spending money on long term, health of the community, projects. So it is cleaning up the local pond instead of trying to attract businesses to replace the jobs that it is losing.
From an entrepreneurial viewpoint, a company needs to locate in a town that will provide the governance, schooling, and shopping that its employees and their families need and not locate in a town that will not do such things.
As an entrepreneur, I needed to know whether Los Alamos would be a community that would provide a good place to live and work for my employees. At the moment, the answer seems to be 'No.'
I have started to investigate a third entrepreneurial organization, StartUp America, and its local embodiment, StartUp New Mexico. So far, StartUp New Mexico, appears to be a social club focused on networking and not on products or profits. I do not plan to have much interaction with yet another coffee klatch. The national organization, however, may have value because it offers discounts and supports on lots of things that a small company may need. We will see how this turns out.
Startup Americais interesting. Its child, StartUp New Mexico, is too young to assess. I have found that I should be talking with other Start Up organizations in other states and use some of the discounts offered by StartUp America.
Other organizations are nascent. I will mention them when they mature a bit.
I have an interesting development, from reading Mark Steyn's "After America". The idea is that Los Alamos is very unlikely to become a home for us or for entrepreneurs in general. Steyn's reasoning is that much of America has become conformist. In this conformist society, diversity, empathy, social justice and other badly defined nouns are what you should strive for. The cost of this striving is forgoing actual production of anything new. Steyn points out that the houses, phones, appliances, and cars that we drive now are not that much different than what we had in 1950 and that the diseases that were unconquered in 1950 are still unconquered. He says that ambition, drive, and the need to compete well have left or are leaving the American psyche. What I see everyday in Los Alamos is what Steyn describes--nice people with degrees from good colleges making fewer discoveries and working less hard than their predecessors in Los Alamos did. Breakthrough science and the drive to do it, at least in Los Alamos, seems to have left the building. The correlation with Steyn's description of Americans' self satisfaction and what occurs in Los Alamos and New Mexico is disturbing.
Went to 2 phone meetings on Entrepreneurship today. The meetings included some overlapping players. The first meeting was short and to the point. The second, a New Mexico meeting, rambled and basically said, 'Let's do what we have always done but retitle the players and hope for a better result.' Fascinating.
It is now September 2012. It is election season. I have meetings with various County officials about initial efforts to make Los Alamos more entrepreneur friendly. These meetings will focus on plausible business plans for these efforts. The initial question will be whether various people at the meetings are willing to be real stakeholders. At another level, I am trying to understand what politicians will do once they are elected. The worry is that the politicians can state words related to economic development but do not understand the details that have to be underneath the words. It is important for me to understand how political rhetoric connects to political action in economic development.
A surprising result that should not have been so surprising is that many people are so focused on their particular narrow view of the world that they let the world collapse around them because they are not focusing on the bigger picture. The examples in Los Alamos currently include focusing on building a convention center even though the people who would have conventions at that center are leaving town in droves.
As of 21 Feb. 2013, we are planning to leave the state. Economic development in New Mexico consists of driving small companies elsewhere and hoping that big companies move to the state. That is not so useful for entrepreneurs who started here.
As of 16 July 2013, I am finishing a document about where to move to and why there. Los Alamos may be more competitive than it was in February. I will know that in a while. The big breakthrough for the document is having a battle tested set of bullet points for what a community needs to do to attract and keep companies and then a quantitative algorithm to rank communities against each other when they have different resources.
There are now a couple of entrepreneur networks in town independent of what I talked about above. These networks are informal, occasional gatherings of those of us who are trying to get companies to work. These networks are really useful because each of us gets to see businesses much different than our own.
There are now two multihundred person (4% of the voting population) Facebook groups on retail and non-retail entrepreneurship in Los Alamos. In one group we discuss the issues. In the other we plan actions, currently 1. getting an advocate for businesses and 2. Revising the strategic plan for the town to fit currently realities -- a failing main employer.
First publication 14 Sept. 2012.