How Coworking Resembles Silicon Valley

How Coworking Resembles Silicon Valley

Serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman, founder, CEO, and senior executive in a number of start ups and high growth companies, including Priceline.com, uBid.com, and ColorJar, and coauthor of the recently released book“Scale: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back,” was in Orlando earlier this month as the keynote speaker for 4Q VenturePitch Orlando.  His presentation, “Keys to Scaling Your Life and Your Career,” was, as one audience member commented afterwards, “one of the best I have ever heard targeted at entrepreneurs.”  His key points for success which he illustrated with examples from his own entrepreneurial journey:

Jeff Hoffman with entrepreneurs hosted by Catalyst

Discussing startup success with Orlando entrepreneurs in a meeting hosted by Catalyst

  • find your purpose
  • solve real problems
  • pursue excellence
  • build a great team
  • get out of the office
  • find a mentor
  • work hard.

Mark and I had the pleasure of inviting Jeff the next morning to tour Catalyst with us.  He was excited to see our coworking space – especially because scaling up is a key focus here.  After the tour, we, along with Orlando startups Tandem and Shoflo, hosted an informal coffee and bagel gathering with a number of entrepreneurs scaling their startups that we had invited to meet Jeff.  We had a very lively discussion as entrepreneurs sought his advice.

Having previously written a blog on How Coworking Spaces Help Entrepreneurs Scale(where I noted that building a sustainable business using Jeff’s scaling principles in a coworking space like Catalyst increases your chance for success), I asked Jeff to give us his thoughts on how coworking spaces can help entrepreneurs scale. Jeff answered by telling our group about Silicon Valley.  He pointed out that the usual things people say about the Valley, including lots of venture capital, tech talent, and tech companies, are not what makes Silicon Valley at all.  He said it was the density of creative people and the “serendipitous collisions” and ensuing collaboration that happen everywhere that lead to the innovative ecosystem and scaling startups that is the Valley.

Jeff Hoffman, Dennis, and Mark touring Catalyst

Jeff Hoffman, Dennis and Mark touring Catalyst

This is Walter Isaacson’s point about innovation in the Valley that he makes in his book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, which Mark discussed in his blog on collaboration.  And, as Jeff said and as we have written, coworking spaces like Catalyst create the dense, diverse, talent communities like the ones in the Valley that enable innovation.