New Yorkers tend to run each other over. It's "survival of the fittest," if you will. Some may still agree that this is still a fact, cutting out competitors, one at a time. But some NY-centric community efforts prove that this mentality is long dated, and perhaps unfashionable. Read on and you will find out what good will and dedicated community efforts are doing for the competitive tech startup marketplace.
It started with New Work City, the grandfather of co-working spaces. Then came the Wix Lounge, General Assembly and some others, each providing unique services and needs to different market niches in the tech sphere. For example, the biggest, mentorship-driven institution is the TechStars program.
The concept is simple. Business executives carve some time out of their busy schedule to help other companies that are likely to be in their arena.
What's the immediate, tangible value to the executive? Absolutely nothing.
So why put in the time, if you have none to begin with?
As the "Transformers" soundtrack says, there is "more than meets the eye" -- and eventually all this giving back / investing in people" for no immediate tangible value might even help you run your own business. Here are some reasons why I think you should consider helping other companies. Even a little.
1. Good energy. While I studied mathematics and computer science, and never saw myself as a real spiritual expert, like knowing what planet Arkturis is all about, I still think there is something positive about participating in other people's dreams that end up helping you live yours. Even if your dream is relatively busy.
2. "My biggest fear is two engineers in a garage" (Bill Gates). Working with smart and passionate founders who invigorate your day with new topics and problems, just might introduce you to great people and conversation. The fact that today they are "engineers in a garage" does not mean they won't be huge one day or have something insightful to teach you today. Also, I always thought that surrounding yourself with people who are very smart, encourages you to be better yourself.
3. You won't know before you try. I might be very wrong, and if I am, you will never do it again. However, iteration is what's it's all about. Trying things, seeing if they are good, and then making up your mind is the way to go. Read my thoughts on this in "The Economics of Good Enough."
Good luck helping. You might just love it.
In fact, I just joined Techstars mentorship program myself, and started working with a good company called Contently.com.