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STARTUP

How a Band of Extreme Sports Fans Unwittingly Stumbled on the Key to Startup Success

New startup communities focused on personal hobbies are popping up — and for members of these tribes, the benefits can be far-reaching.

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BY Heather Wilde - 05 Apr 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Is there a blueprint for a successful entrepreneur? Thinking about those startups who have broken through the brass ring and become successful, are there some common traits that makes them more likely to make it than others? When you take startup scions like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Steve Jobs, while all vastly different, there does start to be a common thread that links them.

Bill Tai, of ACTAI Global, believes that for you to reach this level of success, you need to have a community of like-minded people to support you. Borrowing heavily from Seth Godin's "Tribe" mentality, ACTAI has formed a tribe of people who believe in combining their personal skills and resources to create next-level technology.

However, there is an interesting barrier to entry -- joining this tribe means partaking in shared adventure sports activities like kiteboarding and giving time in working to save the planet. Desk jockeys need not apply.

It isn't all fun-in-the-sun, though. Each year, ACTAI works to put on different events to find entrepreneurs doing things that are aligned with their overall mission, and they run a set of competitions to bring them into the tribe. One such event is the Extreme Tech Challenge (or XTC), with the semifinals taking place at CES and the finals at Branson's Necker Island each year. During events like this, "tribe" members spend time bonding over the things they love -- like kiteboarding -- and gaining valuable face-time that can lead to investment.

For people not part of their group, it may sound crazy -- but their track record for finding successful companies speaks volumes. Previous finalists in the competition include Canva, Doctor on Demand and Sphero. While the challenge provides no money as a prize, the network of mentors, investors, and exposure has been well worth it for the participants I contacted.

Personally, I found this unsurprising. After I moved to Las Vegas I began assisting the burgeoning "tribes" known as VegasTech and the Downtown Project. Throughout the years, I've seen first-hand how having a structured community of mentors, advisors, investors, and entrepreneurs can create a thriving ecosystem.

This begs the question -- how do you know if you have what it takes?

1. You are willing to take a leap.

Research by Australian company Fingerprint For Success shows that there a blueprint for being a successful entrepreneur. A team's behavioral motivations have a huge role to play in whether a business booms or busts. Findings indicate that a higher risk tolerance in certain positions is the key to exponential growth.

In other words, there may be a correlation between people who excel at extreme sports activities and successful businesses.

2. You know your strengths -- and weaknesses.

According to Fingerprint For Success' CEO, Michelle Duvall, while its true that risk tolerance is a key component to growth, there are other paths to success. Understanding your own and your team's blind spots, and then asking for help when needed, is the critical component that the all most successful entrepreneurs all have.

Tony Hsieh believes in this tenet so thoroughly that he restructured his company, Zappos, around it. Each team works in changeable pods based on project, which allows you to ask for the help you need and achieve the highest potential for success.

3. You have the right network.

In the Canadian group Metabridge, startups get access to mentors and investors that they can ask for help when they need it - and that can be the key differentiator for them. Here in Las Vegas, Tony Hsieh invited hundreds of tech giants from around the world to boost the community's knowledge and visibility.

If weren't for an early meeting with Bill Tai and the connections provided, odds are that Canva wouldn't be the unicorn it is today.

But what about all the partying that goes on in these "tribes"?

Well -- who said you cant have a little fun while changing the world?

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