Last year I lived in 5 different cities.
In every city, I joined an entrepreneurship club. Today I am going to share my favorites. If I didn’t list your club it’s probably because I felt there was a better one in the same city.
Entrepreneur clubs don’t take equity in your company
Entrepreneur clubs don’t require you to have a company or a fund to join
There is certainly some gray area here. Most of the entrepreneurial hubs I list below self-describe themselves as fellowships, incubators, or co-working spaces.
Regardless of the label if you’re looking for a low-commitment way to be plugged into the entrepreneurship community in each city, these are my picks.
Typically the best entrepreneurship clubs exhibit these qualities:
You’ll notice my top five entrepreneurial clubs exhibit most if not all of these traits.
When to Visit Year-Round
1871 is awesome for so many reasons. Great speakers. Cool networking events. They invest their sweat equity into BIPOC and women founders. Lastly, they have a great space.
Not only is 1871 a social co-working space but it has a built-in startup accelerator too. This particular accelerator birthed the beloved unicorn Cameo. That’s pretty rad!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy a membership at the $350 rate because they deemed my startup as too late stage. This prevented me from attending many of their events. This community definitely knows what they’re doing though and I’m excited to sneak into more events when I’m back in Chicago.
Pros: High-quality events, community, and co-working space
Cons: Expensive, especially for founders past the ideation stage
HF0 is a “residency program” where the fellows live in a house and start companies. The fellowship is not free. If successful, backend capital will invest in their company. This pipeline respects engineering talent beyond anything else.
If you’re just looking to casually get plugged into Miami entrepreneurship, all that information is irrelevant. What is relevant is that most Fridays HF0 throws an awesome entrepreneurship party. I’ve met some incredible VCs, the first 10 engineers of unicorn startups, and other brilliant founders here.
Like everything else in Miami, the scene is very crypto-heavy!
My only issue with HF0 is it’s not as organized as the other clubs on this list. There’s no “membership.” Attending their events requires a certain level of keeping your ear to the ground to know when they’re happening.
Following the co-founder, Dave on Twitter is a great start if you’re interested in getting into this community. Coming during Miami Hack Week is a surefire bet you’ll see HF0 at its peak performance.
Pros: Elite networking events that are completely free. A friendly community that will help you get integrated in Miami entrepreneurship opportunities.
Cons: No physical space for non-HF0 residence, less-than-formal event announcements, no speaking events
Capital Factory is the poster child of an all-around excellent entrepreneurship club.
Great co-working space in the heart of downtown Austin complete with great iced coffee and snacks. The community events are excellent and geared to help startups thrive. The whole package is not terribly expensive, especially when you factor in the discount deals. I was able to gain my membership for $100/mo because I attended during SXSW.
If I have any criticism at all for Capital Factory it’s that they don’t go to tremendous lengths to get you plugged into funding and recruiting opportunities. Most of these opportunities are community-driven which can be sparse at times.
Also, the events are not as frequent as other clubs on this list. Capital Factory’s “headliner” event is every 3rd Thursday they throw a big networking party. It would be awesome if they hosted that event every other Thursday to make the community more active.
If you’re interested in dropping by for just a week, the time to do so is during South By South West. Capital Factory throws a never-ending networking party that lasts four days. Trust me when I say I got a bunch of new leads but needed about 36 hours of sleep after it was done!
Pros: Amazing space, solid community, affordable
Cons: Could have more active events, and more opportunities to keep members plugged in. They’re not bad at this stuff but not great either.
When to Visit Ann Arbor Tech Trek (October 1st-8th)
Ann Arbor’s tech scene is absolutely exploding and at the center of it is Ann Arbor Spark. This incubator has services to meet your needs if you’re an entrepreneur in the greater Detroit area.
The best part about Spark is the lengths they will go to get you plugged into new opportunities. Grant funding, venture funding, and recruiting are a breeze working with Spark. There’s no other incubator I’ve found that offers this level of service.
These services are more typical of accelerators that cost thousands of dollars in fees or equity.
The one gripe I have with Spark is that they don’t throw as many in-person networking events as other clubs. The networking you do will be mostly virtual.
They also have a big emphasis on moving to Ann Arbor to reap the benefits of the organization. No not Detroit. No not a suburb around Ann Arbor. I’m talking within the city limits.
If you’re unwilling to move to Ann Arbor long-term, this probably isn’t the club for you but you should still come and check it out for a week. I recommend the early October because Tech Trek is Spark’s super bowl.
Pros: You will be plugged-in, funded, & have 25 top engineers resumes in a month
Cons: Not super social. High emphasis on location.
When to Visit Year-Round
Spring Place is heaven on earth for early to mid-stage entrepreneurs. Safe to say I am obsessed.
The highlight event that makes Spring Place so special is every Thursday they throw a party that’s 40% founder, 40% VC, and 20% artisan. I’m not sure how they curate the guest list so perfectly every time, but they do. Every conversation you have at Spring Place is intellectually riveting & transformational.
What blows my mind is the frequency with which they host events. This happens every Thursday. Not just during an event like SXSW or Tech Trek. This trait makes Spring Place totally unique from other clubs all over the U.S.
Be warned, founders. If you do go on Thursday, there is a 50% chance you will have to take the elevator up to the party with a VC who is going to want to hear your well… elevator pitch!
Furthermore, the speaking events I’ve attended there are world-class. The event space is beautifully designed — built to impress any client you treat to a meeting there.
We do need to talk about the price tag. It is not cheap by any means. One way to cut this corner is to split the membership with other founders as members are allowed five guests a day.
What can I say other than Spring Place understands their value!
Pros: Superb and frequent events. Fantastic co-working space. Unrivaled social community.
What’s your favorite club to get plugged into the entrepreneur community?