In our continuing series on Leaders and Influencers, we talk with Andrew Conley, Executive Director of 100state and co-founder of Townsquare, a platform that connects co-working spaces and automates co-working management tools.
Tell us about 100state and some of the accomplishments you’ve been most proud of as Executive Director.
100state is a nonprofit collaborative community of over 190 entrepreneurs, freelancers, problem-solvers, and community leaders in Madison. It’s a place to come for inspiration, for collaboration, and to have a positive impact in Madison. I think that most people have amazing ideas quite frequently; 100state is a place where people surround themselves with others who are actually pursuing those ideas.
As Executive Director, I’m really proud of a few things:
- Providing a home for Madison’s ambitious creatives. By far the number one piece of feedback that I receive that reminds me of the power of what we built is that people were alone in their endeavors before we came along. Now they have a place to call home.
- Strengthening our membership. Not just growing it from ~20 to ~190, but really strengthening the bonds of our members. Our team has done this by improving our workspace environment, building new avenues for members to have input (our members council), and by raising the bar on what it means to be a 100state member.
- Building a team at 100state. When I started, it was just a couple of founders (myself included) working on making this thing float. Now we have 3 full-time paid staff and 1 paid intern who are helming our ship.
- Fostering our members’ output. In 2014 alone, we saw 25 startups started, 18 community projects worked on, and ~1500 hours worth of events on our calendar.
What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?
It’s been really great to see what’s happened over the last 2-5 years in Madison. The community has seen a number of new organizations building the infrastructure for innovation and entrepreneurship. What we really need now is strong collaboration between all of those groups to tie them together to create a roadmap for budding entrepreneurs. The university needs to play a big role in it but not be the owner; they need to connect to Madison’s entrepreneurial organizations and industry leaders to create a solid environment.
What book do you think every aspiring entrepreneur should read and why?
Great question, but it’s hard to just pick one. I would say to start with Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. Peter has a track record of amazing companies as well as great investments. His book is an easy read for the neophyte entrepreneur and offers some great advice for how to keep things simple and focus on the true parts of being an entrepreneur.
Tell us about Townsquare and what’s next there.
Townsquare is really coming along. For those that don’t know, Townsquare is a platform that fosters existing collaborative communities and the connections between different communities (whether that be coworking spaces, clubs, universities, etc.). We have 20 communities across the nation operating on the platform and have a big redesign ready for launch early June. While the tool is shaping up and customer demand increases, we’re validating our revenue model. It’s going to be a big summer for Townsquare.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help organizations like 100state succeed.