5. A Nexus


If you build it, and do it right, they really will come…

Fledge works not only through its programming, but also by drawing in others as part of a greater startup ecosystem. Fledge is far more than a peer-network of entrepreneur. Fledge is more than the advice and connections from Managing Director and programming team. Fledge is the multitude of mentors who comes out to help the fledglings. Fledge is the investors who provide financial support to the program itself, as well as to the graduates. Fledge is all the supporters, who come to the on-stage events, who sign up as early customers to the fledgling companies, and who tell their friends to do the same. For some, Fledge is an online website and newsletter, who follow the progress, and on occasion introduce Fledge to their friends and colleagues.

What is amazing about all this is that in terms of business, the only contracted and fiscal transactions are between Fledge and the fledglings and between Fledge and its investors. All these other supporters and mentors outnumber the participants and investors by an order of magnitude, and yet they come out to support Fledge voluntarily.

To make that explicitly clear, the mentors are not paid, nor remunerated directly in any way by Fledge. The supporters pay for their tickets to the on-stage pitches.

The importance of these other stakeholders is as high as the importance of participants and investors, and as such, they need to be treated as the honored guests they truly are.

And while this works in Seattle and likely works in other major entrepreneurial centers, there needs to be a critical mass of supporters in any city that attempts to duplicate Fledge or any similar program.

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