Author Topic: Five Steps To Build A Startup Ecosystem In Your City  (Read 3105 times)


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Five Steps To Build A Startup Ecosystem In Your City
« on: March 26, 2018, 07:07:15 AM »
Five Steps To Build A Startup Ecosystem In Your City

According to a Kauffman Foundation report, in the US,"new businesses account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation." It's no wonder there is so much hype about emerging startup ecosystems, and so much new focus on supporting startups from governments.

But what often gets lost in all the hype is how sustainable startup ecosystems are actually created.

For example, it pains me every time I see a press release from the government of an area with no startup ecosystem that decides to dump millions into shiny facilities to "spur local startup innovation." More often than not, these initiatives end up providing a great photo opportunity and a hip workspace for local freelancers to code while sitting in beanbags, but little else.

Similarly, I see a lot of government venture funds investing in the best companies in their locales, whether these companies have found product-market fit or not. Not only do these efforts provide improper validation to businesses before they are ready, they are also an egregious waste of taxpayer money.

These types of "top-down" approaches are by far the worst ways to build a sustainable startup ecosystem. Think about it: successful startups are not launched with a big splash - they are built over time through careful iteration and a laser-like focus on the needs of their customers. Building a startup ecosystem is no different.

In my experience helping to build startup ecosystems in over 60 countries, the "bottom-up", slow approach is what works. Just look at emerging startup ecosystems like those in Colombia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, and you will see that the government-funded "innovation centers" don't create lasting companies - grassroots efforts led by a few local and passionate entrepreneurs are what drive results.

No matter where you are trying to build a sustainable startup ecosystem, here are some simple ways you can approach the challenge to be successful:

1. Start with a Collaborative Mentality

The first thing to understand is that entrepreneurship is not "zero-sum." Startups are exciting precisely because they have the opportunity to create new markets that did not exist before. When you adopt this mentality, a competitive startup, startup organization, or startup ecosystem does not have to lose in order for you to win...the most lucrative opportunity is to make the pie bigger for all.

It sounds simple, but since most people are trained in the traditional business mindset of gaining market share at the expense of somebody else, this concept is often hard to grasp.

In practice, this means that sustainable startup ecosystems typically:

Are not dominated by vertically-integrated gatekeepers.
Consist of many specialized organizations that work together.
Have startup mentors that help entrepreneurs across several programs (not just one).
Share ideas and learning because they understand that ideas mean nothing (execution does).
Remember: the definition of an ecosystem is "a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environments." Startup ecosystems that operate with a "me-first" mentality die, and they die quickly.

2. Map the Local Market

As an extension to the above point, to foster a collaborative mentality it is important to first map out all of the local startup organizations in your city.

At the scores of startup events that I host every year, almost all new entrepreneurs are oblivious to the local startup resources available to them (even in Silicon Valley!). Since they are scared that somebody is going to steal their idea, they have been plotting their startup in secrecy and don't know about any local startup blogs, events, bootcamps, mentorship programs, or co-working spaces in their city. They think they have to start a company all alone in their dark basement.

To help startup leaders map their ecosystem, promote collaboration, and help newcomers, we released a free template a few years ago called the Startup Ecosystem Canvas. It it a essentially a worksheet that represents a sequential view of a startup ecosystem, where you can list local all of the entities in your city that help startups: including co-working spaces, networking events, professional networks and groups, accelerators and incubators, educational institutions, government organizations, and more...... more
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 11:33:24 AM by Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU) »