How to Build a Startup Ecosystem

2min read Considering launching a startup ecosystem? Consider this your crash course. In this article, we share everything you need to know to develop your own startup ecosystem. We cover the basics of getting started, how to achieve growth, and challenges you may face along the way.

How to Launch a Startup Ecosystem

For those who want to launch a startup ecosystem, follow these steps:

  • Start with a group interested in startups and meet regularly.
  • Encourage startups to share their projects and invite others to support them through coaching and making introductions.
  • Set up a blog and publish a newsletter each week on startup activities in the area.
  • Interview startups and investors.
  • Build a resource list for all startups to use.
  • Recruit lawyers, accountants, and other professionals to join the meetings. This provides support to early-stage companies.
  • Set up events such as pitch sessions and happy hours to expand the network and recruit more people into the community.
  • Put the group on website lists for startup communities to generate awareness.
  • Set up a coworking space to give startups a place to work.
  • Recruit startup programs to your area, such as the 3-Day Startup, to provide additional programming.

Start small and grow your startup community through regular meetings and consistent newsletter mailings.

Growing Your Startup Ecosystem

In building out your startup ecosystem, follow these steps:

  • Choose five successful serial entrepreneurs. 
  • Identify their sector and type of business.
  • Interview them on how to multiply those businesses. 
  • Target their sector for growing new businesses. 
  • Figure out what additional resources are needed.
  • Set up leadership resources to carry the program over a sustained period of time, such as two five-year programs.
  • Recruit other startups to join through meetups, events, and communications.
  • Bring in programs and speakers from outside the area to foster the community.
  • Cater to the non-technical skills as well as the technical ones.
  • Identify sponsorship support from the local service providers and engage them in the programming.
  • Showcase the core serial entrepreneurs throughout the program. Take care of the administrative and tactical support.
  • Grow your startup community on those strengths and resources.
  • Put the entrepreneurs at the foundation of your program.
Challenges You’ll Face

There are challenges in building a startup community. It doesn’t happen by accident; it takes a focused effort over a period of time.

Here are some challenges and potential pitfalls to watch for and overcome:

  • Choosing another community’s strategy instead of your own. It’s common for startup communities to look to Silicon Valley and adapt their strategy. Silicon Valley has a unique set of skills, resources, and conditions. Instead of adopting the Silicon Valley strategy, it’s best to review your community’s unique skills and resources and then choose your own strategy.
  • While your startup ecosystem should be inclusive to all who want to join, startup builders should focus on the ones with the highest potential for scale-up success. Focus on the needs of the high-performing startups with your resources. 
  • Apathy or lack of leadership can slow the formation of a startup ecosystem. Rally the stakeholders around the startup community cause.
  • Identify the limitations and recruit the area leadership to help remove those barriers. Recruit founders who have achieved success to give back and help foster the effort.
  • Reach out to the local university to gain their support as well. Build collaborative relationships among the various parties involved.

It takes several years and a great deal of community building to create a startup ecosystem.

 

Read more on the TEN Capital eGuide: Building Your Startup Ecosystem


Hall T. Martin is the founder and CEO of the TEN Capital Network. TEN Capital has been connecting startups with investors for over ten years. You can connect with Hall about fundraising, business growth, and emerging technologies via LinkedIn or email: hallmartin@tencapital.group

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