If you have been fortunate enough to spend time in a thriving startup community, the #Givefirst ethos is probably something you have experienced firsthand and would agree is incredibly powerful.  Startup community leaders like Brad Feld and David Cohen from Boulder Colorado have been huge advocates of the #Givefirst philosophy for several years, and the benefits continue to pay incredible dividends throughout the entire Boulder Startup Ecosystem.
One of the main objectives with the Okanagan Centre for Innovation (OCI) is to support the Okanagan Startup community with a #GiveFirst philosophy as the underlying principle.  Together with our tenants, partners and investors, our goal is for the OCI to foster an environment where information sharing, collaboration and meaningful introductions are a daily occurrence – all done freely with no expectation of a return.  Success for one is success for all with the greater Okanagan community being the ultimate benefactor. 
If you want to learn more about the #GiveFirst philosophy and help take the Okanagan Startup Community to the next level, here a few helpful hints to get you started.
Share your time

  • Engage in the community.  Set aside time on a weekly or monthly basis to take impromptu meetings and hold open office hours.  This time can be used for people who are new to town and looking to get connected, or for existing community members that are looking for help.
  • Participate in startup community events and activities; volunteer your time and be accessible.

Share your knowledge

  • Everybody has something to offer, whether you are a first time entrepreneur, service provider or a long time tech industry veteran.  Share your technical expertise, business experience or industry knowledge. Become a volunteer mentor and pay it forward.
  • Leave your ego at the door.   Give freely, be authentic and transparent; put up your hand and ask how you can help – be a great listener, not a great teller.

Share your network

  • Help make meaningful connections to people in your network. This does not need to be more complicated than a simple email introduction – let them take it from there.  Be an open connector, not a filter.  Let the people in your network decide whom they want to engage with.  If people aren’t buying into the #GiveFirst philosophy or are causing other issues, they will quickly identify themselves and typically self-select out of the community.

Don’t make it transactional

  • Don’t expect anything in return for your involvement - EVER.  Just #GiveFirst and we’re sure you will enjoy the experience immensely.  Everyone that shares the #GiveFirst ethos, whether its through participating in their startup community or volunteering their time in charitable organizations will tell you that they get much more out of their involvement than they give.  The key is to just get involved and share openly with no expectation of return.

Don’t overthink it

  • You don’t need to ask permission.  There is no governing body of the startup community.  Just show up, get involved and #GiveFirst – it’s that easy. 

Don’t think short-term

  • Building a healthy, vibrant startup community takes long-term thinking and a lasting #GiveFirst commitment from community leaders to make it happen.  We also believe that a startup community has an inherent network effect.  That being, the larger the community gets, the more people will want to be a part of it and the more successful it will become – but it takes a long-term commitment.

With the continued growth and momentum throughout the Okanagan startup community we have a tremendous opportunity to make a significant difference with lasting positive impact.  Let’s all work together and build a startup community we’re all proud to be part of, a community with a long-term vision built on a #GiveFirst foundation.