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Marc Nager & Dave Mayer On Building Rural Startup Communities

This is a fabulous interview with two founders who live and work out of rural communities in Colorado. Nager and Mayer discuss how in the recent years small towns have grown in talent, and starting to breed entrepreneurial communities of their own. This is in part due to people moving back to their hometown,s after making a good living somewhere else, and in part due to different needs for the next generation of entrepreneurs. People who value living, adventure, outdoors and peaceful living, among other things, are all moving to start a new life outside of big cities. This is causing a boom in rural startup communities.

Updated on September 05
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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Marc Nager co-founded Startup Weekend and took it from a small Seattle event to a global community. He is currently living in the mountains of Colorado, focused on bring entrepreneurship to rural America.

Dave is a passionate community builder. He and Marc have worked together on and off for many years. After building an ethical revolution in the recruiting community, he now lives in Carbondale, Colorado and continues to build communities.

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Dave started Aspen Entrepreneurs in 2014 to create a center of gravity for Aspen area entrepreneurs. The company started out by inviting entrepreneurs to go to breweries and to talk about the problems they were having.

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There is a misconception that you have to be in a major city in order to become an entrepreneur — more specifically, in the Silicon Valley area. Marc and Dave prove this to be wrong since they are both living in small towns in Colorado.

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Marc says that freelancers and entrepreneurs that are looking for a change of pace are now moving to smaller communities around the country. At the same time, accomplished people who grew up in small towns are moving back. This enables small towns to get intellectual resources, networks, and financial capital needed to be more entrepreneurial.

Dave also points out that small town communities are attracting people who value life, and are able to mix their hobbies, like mountain biking and skiing, with work. It is not uncommon for people to go ski for a few hours on a good powder day, before settling into their office, and unlike other places, this is a common practice that is not frowned upon.

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The new American Dream is no longer to get a fancy job and climb the corporate ladder, but it is about living and working on meaningful work wherever you want.

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Marc says that after looking at the underlying values of the gift first mentality and how the ecosystem has evolved other the years, he believes that entrepreneurship is the right solution and the most powerful force to advance human welfare.

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Despite the practical nature of the term “rural,” it has a negative connotation because it is often used by politicians to talk down about the people living in rural areas.

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Entrepreneurship as a transcendent force for the world. Marc tells a story how a Startup Weekend company from Palestine was able to participate in SW in Israel. Teams of entrepreneurs worked side by side for the weekend, and you would not see a difference between anyone, other than they were all entrepreneurs — a unifying, powerful, and singular identity.

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