Community Rot

Lists are bullshit.

That's what you get a lot of times when you ask people about the latest "25 Startups You Should Know About" in name your tech publication.  

It's incredibly hard for a tech journalist to know who is actually doing well other than who seems to be good at raising money...

...or who has actually spent time with them.

...or who has already been on other lists.

While you may be getting offers for a $25 million dollar growth round just a little over a year into your existence, there's some junior tech beat reporter making a list of who's hot.  You've never spent time with them and you probably won't, because you've got an exclusive with the Wall Street Journal.  

Besides, who reads that local tech blog anyway?

Well, you'd be surprised.  And you'd be surprised who shows up at the local tech meetups and who's poking around Twitter.  You don't have time to post your kids or your dog to Instagram because you're hiring 10 people this month.  Priorities, right?

Only, a weird thing happens when you don't put your time into the community--when you don't grab a booth at Techday or Uncubed.  The buzz around your WSJ article starts to fade, and no one is talking about you locally.  And if no one in your home city is talking about you, what are the chances they're telling their friends who want to move here that they should work for you.

Open positions start taking that much longer to fill--because you're not getting the inbound that you need and you just lost a candidate to that bullshit startup at the top of the list with the business model that doesn't really work.  

And that next big article, from the reporter at the NY Times who just moved to NYC--it's not being written about you because they didn't know how good you were doing.  They were going off some of those lesser lists to figure out who they should be spending time with.

It's a case of your roots not getting watered.

Some startup founders seem to spend more time going to parties and meetups and tweeting more than they're selling (#hustle).  That's not a winning strategy either--but there's something to putting the facetime into the more aspirational places in your community, especially in NYC.  

New York is far from an efficient ecosystem.  The best people don't always know about the best companies--and they often come over from other industries.  We have a lot of things going on here, and keeping up with who the top venture backed startup isn't our #1 priority.

So make it a point to get your people out there, to bring the press in regularly, and be an active human in the digital places where other humans congregate.  You never know when a cute dog and baby picture on Instagram leads to a TV feature for your company or a clojure developer hire happens at a meetup.