Rural Revitatization With Startup Ecosystems
There are ~7000 startup accelerators that exist globally, with some of the most notable being…
Y Combinator (Bay Area)
Angelpad (New York City)
In Lebanon, noteworthy accelerators include Speed (Beirut), Flat6Labs (Beirut), UK Lebanon Tech Hub (Beirut), Lebanon Growth Accelerator with Bloom EMEA (Beirut — Virtual).
The Lebanese ecosystem is bustling and steadily growing. Although, given the small population, sometimes things can only be accelerated up to a certain speed. Things only get smaller when we leave Beirut and drive up, way up.
850 meters up.
That’s where Park Innovation resides in Semqaniyeh, Chouf. It’s a coworking space and accelerator, with lots to offer including a rural coding bootcamp.
It’s also a project I am very passionate about and one that brought me from Toronto, Ontario, Canada back to my hometown, a small village about one hour away from Beirut.
Park Innovation is distinctly rural, and despite urban trends… it’s going against the grain to complement rural revitalization with startup culture and community. Startup accelerators are a core part of any community (let alone a startup community). This was so eloquently described in Brad Feld’s Startup Communities.
Let’s look at his book for a second.
In his book, Feld explains that startup communities dedicated to continuous improvement do face lots of struggles to stay on path. And that part of the problem is that many local players don’t actualy operate as teams.
From Feld’s vast experience, he co-founded Techstars with David Cohen in 2016, he proposed that the solution is community alignment in — simply put — how to do things more effectively, together! This is real collaboration. So in other words, startup communities can lead a culture of collaboration and empower entrepreneurial leaders to inspire and build upon shared visions, if done properly.
No matter how far away from the city one is, this is a strategy that works.
Using a thesis referred to as the Boulder Thesis (created by Brad Feld, it is a thesis built upon a 20 year observation of how Boulder, Colorado built its thriving startup community), there are a few requirements for a successful startup community. We’re investigating all this and more at Park Innovation.
For one, it must be run by the entrepreneurs themselves.
One inspiring story leads to another. Park Innovation is led by the ideas and needs of the entrepreneurs and coders that make up its programs. Using feedback loops that help to guide our leadership.
Also, the startup community must have regular continual activities/events that engage the greater community.
This means working with municipalities, libraries, universities (in the Chouf there is an MUBS right next to Park Innovation and a NDU located in Deir el Qamar) that we have the pleasure of collaborating with often!
It looks like a formula that will take the Park from start to smart.
As a distinctly rural accelerator, there’s something special about Park Innovation’s role ; it has the ability to provide entrepreneurial education and tech employment connections to people that may not have otherwise been exposed to it.
Rural dwellers possess the skills but lack the exposure.
Most rural dwellers are entrepreneurs by necessity, due to a lack of jobs or service providers to get the tasks done. They possess entrepreneurial skills as a requirement to survive, and if exposed to a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, they could use their adaptability and problem-solving skills to solve global problems in new ways — ways that non-rural dwellers (maybe) can’t.
Rural startup communities are safe places to discuss, to fail and to contemplate possibility.
Innovative support programs outsite city bubbles can lead to entrepreneurial communities that can propose diverse solutions to growing problems. A world of talent exists in rural areas and inclusive entrepreneurship will require us to foster communities that can help us see the world from new points of view.
Who thought such possibilities could be powered by rural regions?
Although the talent exists, most rural areas are still surrounded with tradition. There are key activities that need to be done to re-imagine what could be and what could evolve. Steve Collens once said: “When you have a bunch of molecules squeezed together, you get a reaction.”
And that’s what we’re here to observe.
Park Innovation has currently opened up its coworking space. Coined as your best productivity asset in Chouf. For a limited time, you can unlock early bird pricing: www.park-innovation.com/coworking!