Really interesting article in the recent issue of BusinessWeek on the company Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley firm that has provided affordable and flexible infrastructure for tech startups since 2006. Plug and Play isn’t trying to design the next killer app or Web 2.0 experience. Instead, the firm provides the resources for up and coming firms to build out their businesses:
[Plug and Play] provides startups with everything they need to get up and running quickly: office space, data and telecommunications services, networking events, recruiting services, and most of all, contact with fellow startups and potential investors.
It’s the last part that I find most interesting. The company has effectively created a community, or innovation neighborhood, whereby talented and creative individuals/organizations are placed in close contact on a daily basis. This sharing of proximity and purpose creates an environment conducive to the origination and testing of new ideas. Additionally, the firm has made it made it easy for these startups to pitch to potential investors:
The dynamic of Plug and Play was on display one recent Friday morning as some 25 investors and interested executives watched entrepreneurs give 10-minute presentations in hopes of attracting investors or partners. A Princeton student in sandals, T-shirt, shorts, and a backward-facing cap breezed through a PowerPoint presentation on a screen. His company, ExhiBytes, aims to enable buying and selling of art through Facebook by analyzing people’s social connections as well as the artwork they mark as favorites on their Facebook profile page. “Favoriting is the key to virality,” he said. That a guy in flip-flops can get serious attention from potential investors reveals that the recession has hardly vanquished the hopes of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
All told, the startups housed at Plug and Play have raised over$700 million in funding since the firms inception in 2006.
When we think about innovation we should not discount the impact that environment and culture can play on the creation of new ideas as well as the likely success of bringing those ideas to market.