Karma. What does karma even mean? Well, according to the dictionary it is “the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person’s deeds in the previous incarnation”. Okay, that sounds about right. But how does it relate to startups and why should you care? As you can tell by now what got the crew so curious about this concept wasn’t the definition on the dictionary but, in fact, the talk that Matthew O. Brimer, founder of General Assembly, gave at Go Youth Conference. In the end, that curiosity of ours led to a conversation, that we were lucky enough to have, with the man who strongly believes that giving karma is what it takes to build strong organisations as everyone benefits from collaboration in a startup ecosystem. So, please cooperate with us and keep on reading…
Building a startup is really about building relationships. You might be an expert at what you do but you can’t be a master of all things, truth is, no one can. You need to bond with others to get things right and with startups that’s no different. Matthew O. Brimer really believes that “entrepreneurs who are too self-centered, too closed off within their network tend to be less successful in the long run”. As it turns out “those who take the approach of giving, an approach of abundance, an approach of collaboration first, tend to me much more successful”.
But why should you help others if you won’t take any benefit from it?
Mostly because we are building a community that will eventually grow and all the players will benefit from it. As Matthew puts it: “the stronger and denser your network is, especially in the startup world, the better flow of information”. Matthew founded General Assembly because he felt the need to bring people together to build a stronger startup community. They started off in New York by making introductions, hosting events and not asking for anything in return. What happened then was that the community started to grow and more and more talent moved to New York. “We had more developers, designers, investors coming to New York because it became a cool startup hub” says Matthew. All this led to the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats” (his words not ours) and gave birth to a pay it forward mentality. Everyone should be willing to give: make introductions, offer advice and not ask for anything in return. When comparing Lisbon to New York Matthew thinks that “it doesn’t really make sense for Lisbon to be competitive because the ecosystem is small. Why compete for all the fish in a really small pond if you can grow the pond instead?” (again, his words not ours). And in fact the more we connect people the more international players will know what is happening here.
So in the end, we need to focus on connecting the dots, empower people and build a company with a purpose. It’s just like Matthew said during his talk: “it’s not about building a company with a vision but a company with a purpose”.