Founding Startup Societies: A Step by Step Guide

“Founding new communities will take patience, ambition, and a strong ethical character. This guide is a set of tools to complement the vision and leadership ability of founders who are exploring the next iteration of governance. Never before have entrepreneurs been in such a prime position to induce positive social change. In this new age, criticism is simply not enough. It’s time to create the world people have desired, but until now, could not achieve. Don’t argue. Build.” — Mark Frazier and Joseph McKinney

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In this book, Mark Frazier and Joseph McKinney set out to create a practical guide synthesizing knowledge from all startup society experiences and authors to date.

The different kinds of startup societies are properly classified right away. The authors divide these enterprises in three basic categories: First, there are Free Economic Zones, which are special jurisdictions with an improved business climate. The second category is of Private Residential Communities, which encompass all kinds of opt-in communities offering self-governance to its residents. Lastly, there are Integrated Startup Societies, a combination of the two, including elements from both.

The process of founding startup societies is divided in three main phases. The first part is the initial preparation. After the groundwork for the zone or community has been established, there is the negotiation phase. Lastly, after the projects gets what it needs for kickoff, there is the growth phase, in which the startup society has to focus on starting operations and later expanding and staying competitive.

Throughout the book, Frazier and McKinney analyze various success factors of relevant cases in the field, from large world-changing experiments like Shenzhen to local government innovations, such as in Sandy Springs. The book doesn’t shy away from the failures, though, pointing out where things went wrong in those cases and what the most common mistakes for this type of project are.

Based on these experiences, the authors compiled a set of 7 best practices for startup societies creators, which help orient founders during the many steps of the guidebook. These include developing a bold vision, utilizing quickstarts, organizing competitions and turning over gains to local communities through Endowment Zones.

The book is split into 20 sequential steps for the foundation of a Startup Society, preceded by an initial executive summary and followed by an extensive appendix with term definitions and various template documents.

Creators of zones and societies should read all 20 steps and appendixes III, V, VIII, IX, and XII for a detailed guide on community creation and documents for approaching governments and establishing an organization.

Policymakers and analysts can take a look at the executive summary and appendixes II, IV, VII, X, XI for an overview of best practices and necessary reforms, besides documents and strategies for zone structuring and interaction with private organizations.

Scholars and experts may read appendixes I and XIV for a comprehensive glossary of startup-societies-related terms and a literature overview.

The book can be found here.

Written by: Francisco Litvay



Institute for Competitive Governance

The Institute for Competitive Governance is a nonprofit institution which studies special jurisdictions throughout the world.