A Place for Entrepreneurs to Connect – in IEEE Collabratec™

entrepreneurship_300x200Entrepreneurship is hot again. While, several years ago, startup activity was at a decline, according to the 2015 Kauffman Index, the downward trend reversed last year, as more entrepreneurs launched their own businesses in what is the largest year-over-year increase in the past 20 years. Findings in the 2015 Index show that 310 out of 100,000 adults started new businesses each month (.31%) — on average, an increase over the previous year’s .28% of the adult population. This translates to a striking just-over-half-a-million new business owners a month: a population that can’t be ignored, as these statistics continue to rise in the technology industry.

This activity is also reflected in the makeup of IEEE members, as well as the offerings that must be provided to them. For decades, IEEE members have been at the forefront of turning their ideas into successful businesses, and are constantly looking to pioneer new solutions through development of services and products. At the forefront of innovation, with representation across the globe, members are uniquely positioned to interact across disciplines and markets, with the end result of translating initial visions into concrete realities. According to a recent survey, a large number of IEEE—USA members (1 in 5) work in or own companies under 50 people, and over 90% of these companies are technology driven. It is vastly believed that this trend will continue to increase, as more and more new college graduates are opting to start their own companies instead of joining one.

Through the formation of the 2014 IEEE AdHoc on Entrepreneurial Activities several years ago, IEEE proactively identified that members would benefit greatly from new opportunities to help them initiate or grow their ventures, and began to define ways in which the organization could reach this thriving community. The 2015 IEEE Technical Activities AdHoc on Entrepreneurial Activities furthered this mission and has dedicated itself to bringing these opportunities to fruition, by launching a number of new initiatives in September 2015, designed to facilitate discussions regarding entrepreneurship, technology marketization, manufacturing, investment and beyond. With the creation of the IEEE Entrepreneurship Exchange IEEE Collabratec™ Community, the IEEE can now better reach the segment of technology professionals perhaps most likely to benefit from collaboration, and most prepared to engage with this important networking tool.  

According to a recent article by Mashable, participating in communities like the one newly minted by the IEEE is the top goal every entrepreneur should consider in 2016. “Joining a virtual community” or “ connecting locally” can help entrepreneurs by giving them a place to ask questions and get support from other like-minded individuals, as well as eventually increasing a business’s internet presence and allowing a space for personal growth and learning (two other important priorities defined by Mashable).  

Ken Stauffer, Chair of the 2015-16 IEEE Technical Activities AdHoc on Entrepreneurial Activities, agrees with the importance of the goals that Mashable sets. He insists that these new ventures offer entrepreneurs such as him the unique opportunity to “help us share information with the global entrepreneurship community and have dialogue on issues facing entrepreneurs.” He continues, “These tools are an essential part of our entrepreneurship community building initiative. They allow global communication and dialogue across multiple regions and time zones.” The IEEE Entrepreneurship Exchange Community is unique in that it allows for seamless, 24/7 networking and collaborating with other like-minded entrepreneurs of all career facets, no matter the participant’s physical location.   

Given the increase in entrepreneurs within the general public and within the IEEE as an entity, it comes as no surprise that, out of 15 IEEE Collabratec™ communities sponsored by IEEE Technical Activities, the IEEE Entrepreneurship Exchange community, despite its fairly recent launch, has become the largest and fastest growing, boasting nearly 1000 more participants than the next largest community. Recently, the Exchange hit a milestone of 3000 members, and continues to grow daily. Discussions range from soliciting career advice for those interested in pursuing startups (“What advice would you give an aspiring graduate student interested in entrepreneurship?)” to more specific questions (Why would you choose an incubator or accelerator for your start-up? Pros and Cons for each?). The faster the community continues to grow, and the more diverse its population becomes, the greater the resource it can be to the thriving community that it serves.

Do you have a question to ask the growing entrepreneurial community? Join IEEE Collabratec™ and the IEEE Collabratec™ Entrepreneurship Exchange Community today.

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