We published our first post in January of 2014. Since then, we’ve published 107 articles, promoting thirty-eight Lansing Startups, and providing sixty-one educational articles. We’ve written an ebook to help people navigate the Lansing startup community. Hundreds of people subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the StartupLansing digest (you should join them!). Thousands are visiting the website each month. And we’ve accomplished this, part-time, on a shoestring budget (Huge shout out to Allison Monroe, who works really hard with me to deliver great content week in and week out!).
It’s a lot of work, but we’ve done it because we believe it matters. We’ve done it because we believe in entrepreneurship. We’ve done it because we believe in Lansing. And we’ve done it because we believe that for Lansing to realize its full economic potential, it has to have a killer startup community.
And over the past nine months or so, since we started producing content consistently, we’ve learned a lot. As we prepare for the new year, we’d like to share some of that with you:
What We’ve Learned:
1. We Can Grow Companies Here.If someone had told me a year ago, when I moved to Lansing, that we’d be able to find 38 startups in Lansing, I would have laughed out loud. (Truth be told, I probably did). But, they are here. And we’ve barely scratched the surface. I personally know of at least a dozen or so companies we’re intending to reach out to in the coming weeks (if you have a startup you’d like to share, please tell us about it!).
2. There is Support. We’ve written about each of the seven incubators in Lansing. These are good because they are here to help people start companies. But, more importantly, they represent a commitment from the community to try and grow the entrepreneurial base here. Personally, we’re excited to play our role as your champion, mentor, and comiserator (I am, after all, running my own company. Which I started after my last startup failed).
3. Consistency + Execution + Iteration = Results. We publish our newsletter every Tuesday before lunch. We plan our content calendar quarterly. We revise weekly. We set 30, 60, and 90 days goals to keep us focused and to analyze performance. We’ve invested in courses, analytics, and tools to help us make sure that we execute, smartly, consistently. And it’s paying off. StartupLansing is, in its own way, also a startup. We’re on a mission to figure out what scalable, repeatable, and profitable (or, at least break-evenable) looks like. For those of you working on startups: cleverness, consistency, execution, and iteration is what works. Embrace it.
These lessons are informing our efforts for 2015, which include:
1. Doubling Growth (at least). While our growth and engagement metrics are encouraging, we believe we can do better. We HAVE to do better. The way we’ll do this is through continued customer development. We want to make sure we’re providing high-quality, relevant content for startup entrepreneurs in the region. We’re keeping our ear to the ground and will continue to do so.
2. Be a Better Partner. There are so many awesome events coming up: Startup Grind, StartupWeekend and Greenlight, to name a few. In 2015, we want to be a more active partner with people trying to grow the startup community. This means more promotion and more co-sponsorships.
3. Manage the Calendar Better. Our event calendar is the second most visited page on the site. Initially, it was built by pulling a bunch of APIs from different sources. For a variety of reasons, that’s been wonky. Because it’s such an important resource, we’re going to make a conscious commitment to invest in keeping it super duper accurate.
4. Grow a Digital Community. I get several requests each week to help people with business model planning or advice on this or that aspect of their startup. Not only am I just one person, but there are tons of people here that have even better, more insightful answers than I do to most questions. To facilitate these interactions, we’ll be launching a digital community for people to ask and answer questions. It will be an open forum, similar to StackOverflow, built for – and governed by – the community. (If you want to sign up to be a beta user, click here). We think it’ll help entrepreneurs get access to relevant, timely help from other people in the community (as well as be able to help others; we’re all mentors and mentees in some capacity!)
5. Multi-channel Education Series. In 2015, we’ll be launching a few different video series, including interviews with successful entrepreneurs, educational videos on building startups, and webinars on topics that matter to startups (attracting customers, doing pitches, etc). The specifics are still TBD, but we believe there’s demand for that kind of content, so we’ll be looking to introduce it.
And, of course, we’ll still continue to provide relevant, timely articles, feature new startups, and promote any and all startup activity in the region.
We’ve been excited to play our role in the Lansing Startup community in 2014 and are even more excited about what’s in store for 2015. We hope you join us for the ride!