Building The Ecosystem
I've always seen the work that my colleauges and I do as more than venture capital investing. That is our main job and we need to do it very well. But we also need to work to make sure the macro environment for our investing activities remains attractive.
There are two primary activities that Union Square Ventures focuses on in addition to our core venture capital activities of backing and then working closely with entrepreneurs and their teams. They are policy advocacy around protecting the freedom to innovate and efforts to build the ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurship. Longtime readers of this blog understand this from the many many blog posts on these two topics.
I'd like to talk a little about building the ecosystem this morning. We view "the ecosystem" both globally and locally. We want to work to build a world where entrepreneurship is available everywhere. But we also want to do everything we can to grow and nurture the entrepreneurial community in New York City. And we believe that the things we support in NYC can and will be copied throughout the world so that our local ecosystem efforts support our global ecosystem efforts.
I've talked at length about many of our local ecosystem efforts and I don't want this post to be a laundry list of the things we are working on. Many of you are quite familiar with them. I would like to talk about a specific thing that two of my colleagues are doing that inspires me.
Last week, Gary and Christina asked me to stop by our event space late one afternoon and spend 45 minutes talking to a group of a dozen or so interaction designers. I talked to them about writing, the importance of taking the time every day to put words down "on paper" and how that forces you to think crisply and clearly. It was a great discussion.
This was part of a three hour class that Gary and Christina teach master students at the School Of Visual Arts (SVA) here in NYC. The class is a requirement for the Interaction Design program and it is called Entrepreneurial Design. Gary blogged about the class here and Christina blogged about it too.
The idea to teach this class came out of Gary's observation that almost all of our portfolio companies are suffering from a dearth of talent in interaction design and that we needed to do something to help produce more talent in this area. Gary and Christina didn't ask for permission to teach this class from anyone in our firm. They just did it. Freedom to innovate in action. I love it.
Things like this make a difference. They add up and build on each other. USV is not alone in this effort. Our colleagues in the startup and venture community in NYC and our colleagues around the world are actively doing things just like this. And the result is a thriving global startup movement that is getting stronger every day.