Peter Childs has some insights into OCRI for software entrepreneurs. I’ve often held OCRI and Communitech as pinnacles or at least penultimate organizations for engaging local communities, see my comments on Mitch Brisbois’ SensoryMetrics. There are apparently issues with the deeper structure of OCRI that makes it less tenable for early-stage software companies. These issues start with the structure of the constituents and the membership.
“Of Ottawa's approx 1819 'knowledge based' companies only 35% are OCRI members. A closer look at OCRI's membership shows that something like 42% are service providers (lawyers & consultants) and a further 21% are government agencies. Remove them and only 13% of what most of us consider 'knowledge companies' are OCRI members.”
We’ve worked really hard to build a community that encourages diversity of thought and experience. This includes service providers but not to the exclusion of early-stage product companies. I want people to build the next great $100 Million or $10 Billion dollar venture. And all data shows that this will probably be a product company, not a consulting services business. That said we have service providers deeply involved in our efforts. Rob Hyndman of Hyndman|Law, Jay Goldman of Radiant Core and Jon Lax of Teehan+Lax have supported these community efforts since the very beginning. Not because they looked at the community as an audience to market to, but because they saw the value of their participation.
Peter has been trying to revolutionize the Ottawa-scene since I first met him in early 2006 at BarCampOttawa. Along with the efforts of Alec Saunders and Mark Stephenson and Scott Lake of JadedPixel and Shopify. But the community just hasn’t clicked in the same way that the Toronto community has. Has using the measure of meeting people that are “interesting” help encourage stronger more personal connections? Is the belief that “the community is the framework” to enable bigger better things to happen been the difference? Or is it that the real value comes from the “derivatives that matter most”? With people like Mark Kuznicki and Richard Florida as role models for imbibing “open creative communities” do we have an advantage?
What is the secret sauce in the Toronto community?