Startup Commons’ mission is to scale entrepreneurship and innovation by empowering ecosystem development with global knowledge and tools for data-driven development. However, we face an interesting obstacle that stands in the way of our mission.
Startup ecosystems lack ecosystem operators.
Sure, policy makers, economic development organizations, core support providers, and key individuals focus some of their efforts on ecosystem development. Some more, some less. Unfortunately, pretty much all ecosystems lack dedicated and sustainable resourced ecosystem operator teams that are solely focused, from a neutral perspective on growing and addressing problems in their regional startup ecosystems in a systematic manner over the long term. And doing so with focus on data and KPI’s and leveraging modern digital technologies.
Top down or bottom up?
When it comes to creating/developing ecosystems, there seems to be always a question and “two camps” with views of what would work. This is especially true at early maturity stages.
The reality is that both are needed, and eventually they need to meet in the middle. To cover both, energy and speed with long-term, sustainability & neutrality.
This means connecting the top down “announcement strategy”, policy-making & support funding spending, with bottom up motivated/committed/operative people with digital expertise. It is important to organize into a dedicated and neutral entity (PPP?). Next, you must give a mandate, resources, and clear a big target with milestones & KPI's to match. Once you have put the mandate and resources in place, you must let the selected team do their work with support and governance by ecosystem key actors.
When Ramon Lozano came on our podcast, he discussed how he is working to develop the startup ecosystem in Conroe, Texas. Operating as the Entrepreneur In Residence for the Conroe Economic Development Council (CEDC), he describes his primary role as “planting the seeds” for ecosystem growth. Although he works for an economic development organization, he does not think that his organization should govern the ecosystem.
Ramon believes that ecosystem governance should be in the hands of the entrepreneurs who make up the startup community. In other words, ecosystems should be governed by the people and for the people.
In accordance with his beliefs, Ramon is forming the Conroe Regional Entrepreneurship Guild, a group of entrepreneurs who will oversee ecosystem development. Although the CEDC will “plant the seeds” for growth, their long-term strategy is to hand ecosystem development operations over the the Conroe Regional Entrepreneurship Guild, which will serve as the region’s ecosystem development team.
Public-Private Partnerships for Ecosystem Development
As the Conroe example illustrates, ecosystem development involves collaboration between the public and private sectors. Policy makers and economic development organizations often need to prioritize startup ecosystem development and lay the foundation for community self-governance.
In addition to forming the Conroe Regional Entrepreneurship Guild, the CEDC is conducting surveys, pursuing industry cross-pollination initiatives, and building a research park to “plant the seeds” for startup ecosystem growth. Since the CEDC possesses resources and credibility, it is ideally positioned to perform the early-stage tasks that are essential to ecosystem development. Eventually, the CEDC hopes to pass its data and learnings to the Conroe Regional Entrepreneurship Guild so that the regional startup community can begin to govern itself.
However, the transition does not mean that the public and private sectors can stop collaborating. As the ecosystem development team continues collecting data and identifying barriers to ecosystem growth, they will most-likely need to make policy recommendations, mobilize resources, and collaborate on projects with the public sector. Ecosystem development is undeniably a public-private undertaking.
And to really master the digital side of ecosystem connectivity, to make all relevant data flow in real time for all ecosystem development and actors needs in various levels. - Finally, the digital silos in various ecosystem applications need to be smartly connected as well. This ain't no small task that can simply be solved with bottom up approach or left to solve on it’s own. But it is doable. As long as there are proper entity in place to take on the challenge, proper financial and skills resources in place with a mandate to operate from all ecosystem key actors.
What can you do to form ecosystem operator teams?
Recently it was reported that Business Plan Tool in Helsinki was hacked and some persons in social media raised a question about the role of Startup Commons in the matter. The solution was not implemented or hosted by Startup Commons or any other company in its group. Startup Commons licenses its concepts and models for several parties where licensees are responsible to make implementations and provide the service.
It is not our role to comment on the actual case on behalf of other parties, but we feel it is important to highlight, what Startup Commons is doing, what is Startup Commons’ business model and position in the context.
Startup Commons mission is to scale entrepreneurship and innovation by empowering ecosystem development with global knowledge and tools for data-driven development. Our strategy is to facilitate, develop, distribute and license global knowledge, tools, digital solutions and help to enable data flow for and between Ecosystem Operators.
Startup Commons licenses its assets, including development frameworks, concepts, software, documentation, metrics, branding and provide consulting and advisory services related to these assets to startup ecosystem development.
In addition Startup Commons promotes best startup support related practices, applications and concepts of others and can co-develop existing or new shared assets to be licensed to other startup ecosystems. Licensing is provided based Creative Commons, Open Source or Shared Source licenses.
Due scalability reasons Startup Commons may choose to operate only limited test and pilot projects and does not take direct responsibility to implement or operate actual live services for a ecosystem.
Regards to Business Plan Tool case in Helsinki, Startup Commons has not implemented or programmed the software version in the question or hasn’t been responsible for hosting the software, managing database or managing the servers running the software in question.
Business plan tool by Startup Commons is based on the same concept written in different programming language and different architecture, and is not the same software. For Startup Commons’ own software versions we have also strict data security requirements and e.g. work to be compatible with GDPR.
The use of “Startup Commons Finland” -name has been a part of license arrangements, not Startup Commons Business Plan software. Also all licensing agreements related to use Startup Commons name and assets in Helsinki, ended on 2nd of October 2017.
We believe that a globally effective and sustainable approach is a hybrid model of shared resources with dedicated local operator with responsibility to operate core services and coordinate connected services, where in digital services, data is always owned and controlled by rightful owners in distributed architecture, where ecosystem operators role is only to provide connectivity between services and to enable managing of data.
The incident in Finland is very unfortunate. It together with other recent significant data issues in social media and analytics services highlights the importance of data protection and need to have new models to better guarantee good data protection and privacy. We always emphasize importance of these aspects to our clients and partners.
iEER is an Interreg Europe funded flagship project with a budget of 2,3 MEUR bringing together 10 regions around Europe with varying ecosystem profiles and maturity levels. Initiated by a group of regions conferred with the European Entrepreneurial Region Award, in past two years and involving more than 600 ecosystem key actors in these regions, iEER have been defining smart paths and solutions to boost regional entrepreneurship ecosystems which supporting new and early stage entrepreneurs.
Since last year, Startup Commons have taken active part in iEER ecosystem peer reviews, learning camps and among other things, contributed startup ecosystem development framework for mapping and highlight the importance of active and ongoing KPI measurement activities, as well as taken active part in helping to designing more standardised transferability model for sharing ecosystem best practices.
For 2018-2020, iEER project moves to next phase, where based on the collected best practises and other collective learnings from over past two years and beyond, - next, regional action plans are put into practice and their progress is closely monitored.
On 22-23 March 2018 iEER held a Conference in Brussels where, Valto Loikkanen, Startup Commons co-founder and senior advisor, was invited to give a forward looking keynote speech that looks beyond iEER best practises, to also share about the biggest global findings and learnings from Startup Commons global ecosystem development projects.
The conference was opened by Mr Markku Markkula, 1st Vice President of the European Committee of the Regions, and Ms Christine Chang, Coordinator of iEER Interreg Europe, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, Finland. The second day of the conference was opened by Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Vice President of European Commission, Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.
This two-day conference was great opportunity to meet with all peers actively participating in the iEER project as well as to share and learn from the work done so far and the main conclusions from the different regions participating in the project.
Valto Loikkanen made a presentation called “Ecosystem Orchestration and Digital: Entrepreneurial perspective - Support for Startups & Scaleups” in which he shared with the audience the biggest challenges and as such also the biggest impact opportunities for the future, to scale entrepreneurship and innovation in any ecosystem.
Download full presentation.
The presentation was aimed to act as inspiration for iEER regions as they are moving towards its second phase where regional action plans are defined and will be implemented.
The presentation was well received with positive feedback and following the panel discussion, stakeholders wholeheartedly agreed that ecosystem development would benefit from having a sustainable and neutral “ecosystem operator” to help orchestrate ecosystem development and information distribution with systematic and long term approach. As well as following the recent global events related to data privacy also more local and national level focus on leveraging digital solutions in ways that are aligned with digital world developments, EU digital single market initiatives and aligned with up coming GDPR regulation is needed.
As part of the learning process since 2016, during the event iEER released openly shared iEER Handbook, designed by David Kaneswaran from Institute of Technology, Tralee, as a collective work to inspire and support other regions working on developing entrepreneurship, innovation and startup ecosystems related to policies, support functions and new development initiatives within and between regional ecosystem in EU.
Four themes which run throughout this report are the key areas of policy intervention in developing entrepreneurship ecosystems in regions:
The handbook also contains overall findings as a result of the data and peer learnings in 2016-2018 with a list of key local and interregional actions that will be implemented in 2018-2020 to develop regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.
While the handbook is capturing the core learnings and value of iEER project until it's mid term, it is clear that no single document can capture the vast learnings and perspectives by people whom have taken part have gained during the project so far. We encourage to connect directly with iEER ecosystem developers to tap into their learnings and to seek ways to collaborate.
Going forward, Startup Commons is looking forward to continue being an active contributor and also help extend the spread of the learnings and value created with iEER project with all ecosystems globally, as well as bring global learnings towards iEER project next phase.
See also Startup Ireland report to compare key conclusions from intensive Startup Cathering week in 2015 where over 410 events took place in 22 counties with almost 19,000 participants, a great national collaboration for entrepreneurship. Where Startup Commons collected information from 5 cities, 30 groups in total. On average, each group had 10 people, connecting with 300 participants during the breakout sessions where each group provided 10 key findings for each of the 6 themes that underpin startup ecosystems (Environment, Culture, Skills, Education, Network, State Support), totaling to a database of 300+ inputs that were further summarized, refined, analysed for follow up actions.
Startup Commons has recently been selected by City of Marbella as the service provider to design a "one-stop-shop" ecosystem portal application to showcase real-time information about ecosystem people, startups, events, support services, development projects and beyond from the digital entrepreneurship ecosystem in Marbella.
Cristóbal Garre, councilor for economic development for City of Marbella, highlighted the importance of “initiating this project as part of Marbella Digital initiative, which is targeting to boost digital entrepreneurship in Marbella. It is very strategic for us to start the inventory of Marbella startup ecosystem as the first step to know the starting point of the ecosystem. Information like what is going on in the startup ecosystem, who is who, who is doing what and why, where and when are things happening, etc. is very relevant for us in order to start connecting the different ecosystem actors but also to understand over time together with Startup Commons team the services and activities that we are missing in the ecosystem and that we should deploy in order to increase the volume of business creation as well as their quality so that local startups in Marbella can compete in global markets. By knowing that information will help us prioritise the actions and therefore the resources to smartly support entrepreneurs and startups in Marbella”.
The project will kick off by gathering information from existing ecosystem players and users, continuing with its subsequent standardization according to Startup Commons Framework and finishing with the identification of the missing gaps within the ecosystem (services, activities, etc.). The output of this data collection process will be used as part of the designing works that Startup Commons team will carry out to propose a digital solution that help startups get the right services and connections at the right time, and to help public sector decision makers as well as both public and private service providers tailor their services to the specific needs of the startups and other ecosystem actors.
There is mutual interest between City of Marbella and Startup Commons in this project being the solid foundation on which a digital infrastructure is built to enable connectivity and data flow of ecosystem activities and processes in real-time.
In a global context where there are tons of materials and knowledge about how to create and grow your startup, startups still do not know where to start, what to focus on, when to do what, and how to identify what’s next. They also do not know how this all connect in sync with support, trainings and services available in a local ecosystem.
It is necessary for startup ecosystems to have a common language and framework to describe, track, measure and guide entrepreneurship and innovation from an “Idea to Product into a Scalable Business” and from “Talent to Team to an effective Organization” to eventually bring efficiency and transparency to help entrepreneurs and startups navigate along the startup journey.
Startup ecosystem development is about breaking ecosystem silos, sharing resources, removing inefficiencies and bringing connectivity and standardisation at all levels. When it comes to transferring entrepreneurship and startup knowledge, more transparency, common sense and efficiency is needed on how it is structured, connected and delivered.
For these the reasons we have created our Growth Academy.
We believe that when entrepreneurs and startups are educated with the right knowledge, while working together in an ecosystem - together we will be able to remove or significantly reduce the highest “universal risks” - We will also be able to educate and inform stakeholders about optimal methods and structures for startups that are strong and flexible enough to sustain failures at various levels, while minimizing the possibility of terminal failure. We will provide reasoning and will connect with other sources and data that support the knowledge and views provided.
Startup Commons has been implementing the Growth Academy program in different startup ecosystems at different levels by partnering with local support providers - but our mission is always “scaling entrepreneurship and innovation”.
Growth Academy eLearning
So we are now working to bring a digital eLearning solution to help scale Startup Commons Growth Academy to reach a global audience, - so that all entrepreneurs in the world can benefit to improve their potential for success.
Startup Commons has entered into partnership with StartupContinuum, a Calgary, Alberta based startup aligned with Startup Commons’ mission. StartupContinuum is a company that is founded by team of successful serial entrepreneurs who have built and exited a successful eLearning company before. StartupContinuum is creating an innovative online learning environment, with templates and support tools to help startups succeed by fully adapting Startup Commons’ world-renowned framework and curriculum.
The learning platform will be initially rolled out module by module in Calgary, with great support and input from the local Calgary startup community and ecosystem. This ecosystem is actively adopting Startup Commons Framework via key ecosystem players like the Calgary Innovation Coalition (CIC), Alberta Innovates, Innovate Calgary and Rainforest Alberta.
After initial launching, the StartupContinuum / Growth Academy learning platform will actively start expanding to the rest of Alberta and Canada. In parallel, we at Startup Commons will start promoting it to be deployed in Europe and Asia.
Along with publicly announcing this great initiative, we are announcing an open call for all support providers catering support services directly for business creators to invite them to become a key game changer, to deploy and connect Growth Academy in their local ecosystem for a real impact in their local ecosystem.
Contact us to join the Growth Academy initiative and let's get things moving…
Would you like to make your mark in the startup universe? All it takes is an app.
Along with Startup Commons EcosystemOS, we are establishing a global ecosystem applications marketplace to connect leading application developers with three ecosystem customer segments: business creators, startup support providers and ecosystem developers. If you have an awesome existing app for one of these three segments, we encourage you to submit your application today to join our very first developer cohort.
Problems Worth Solving
Are you a Business Creator, Support Provider or Ecosystem Developer? Are you frustrated by the lack of good applications or models to solve your big pain point and cant find a proper solutions?
Share your pain with us, and we will share it with motivated app developers, looking to build applications to problems worth solving and look into ways of co-creating and contributing along the way.
Looking to develop an application?
To get creative juices flowing, we are sharing one such concept "open ipr" openly here with the world that have been iteratively developed as part of Startup Commons work with European Commission and several ecosystems, to help solve the problem of unused resources and other IPR not connecting with innovative business creators - leaving more than 90% valuable research findings being under utilized in business creation.
Download PDF below or open via Google Drive for comments and questions.
You have until May 2018 to submit an application. We have created this short design thinking guide to get you started on your application development journey:
Step 1: Choose a startup development phase.
Do you want to focus on the formation, validation, or growth phase?
Step 2: Identify a customer segment.
Do you want to build an app for business creators, support providers, or ecosystem developers?
Step 3: Develop empathy for your target customer segment.
Engage in perspective taking to understand target segment needs by asking questions and gaining ground-level experience. We suggest conducting informational interviews and shadowing people in your target customer segment. The goal of this step is to gain an understanding of what matters most to the people in your target customer segment and figure out what challenges they face.
Step 4: Define the problem that you want to solve.
Based on the needs of your target customer segment, create a clear definition of the problem that you want to solve for them.
Step 5: Ideate solutions to the problem.
Sketch and model ideas for how you can solve the problem. There are no bad ideas at this stage. Put every possibility on the table, and defer judgement until the end of the process. Ideating solutions is most effective with a team or group of collaborators. Once you have entertained all possibilities, vote and choose the idea that you would like to pursue.
Step 6: Prototype your solution.
Build a minimum viable product (MVP). This version of the product should allow you to collect the maximum amount of information about customer preferences with the least effort. Hackernoon.com provides an excellent guide to minimum viable products.
Step 7: Test your application.
Engage in validated learning. Use focus groups and customer feedback to figure out what works and where improvements are needed.
Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7.
Follow the lean methodology of build-measure-learn-repeat. However, don’t be afraid to submit your application once you reach this step! You can always keep improving it.
To continue diving deeper into topic, have a look at the video below...
Case Study - Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP): Support to Startup Macedonia in Macedonia, January 2018
Swisscontact, in consortium with J.E. Austin Associates, is supporting the strengthening of
entrepreneurship ecosystem organizations and actors to aid the development of business
startups and growth-oriented small businesses in Macedonia.
Description of the mission
Target of the mission
The main objective of the mission was to strengthen the capabilities of the managers/members of Startup Macedonia to manage the association in a sustainable way, and to offer quality demand-driven services and support to the ecosystem as a whole.
We delivered final report where we proposed a roadmap plan working at multiple levels (connecting top-down and bottom-up approaches, taking into account specific function verticals and business vertical ecosystems) but being conducted step by step in very transparent manner to achieve consensus and solid progress amongst key ecosystem players within Macedonia ecosystem.
The article is written by Davis Miller. He writes about business, negotiation, sales and many other similar topics. His site, www.thegappartnership.us, provides workshop for negotiation.
You’re there, that deadlock where negotiations have faltered and there’s
nothing more to say. Or is there? A seasoned negotiator knows that there are
ten ways you could still seal that deal:
1. Suggest a break. Although this sounds like a cop-out, it’s good psychology. Using the “let’s take a coffee break and come back to this” approach allows you to sweep the other party along for joint refreshments. Keep conversation friendly and low key, giving the other party a chance to get to know you on another level ~ at the very least, you’ll go back into the negotiations refreshed and with a greater understanding of the person you’re negotiating with.
2. Context is everything but it’s easy to get caught up in looking at things from one direction only, so try a different approach. For example, if the stalemate relates to costs, shift negotiations in the direction of terms or time-frame. This alters the focus but still keeps things moving along whilst both parties gain time to quietly re-consider those costing options.
3. If you have the upper hand in the negotiations but have hit a stalemate, then suggest a cooling-off period. It’s a risky strategy which isn’t recommended if you’re not in the driving seat, but if you are negotiating a deal that’s of greater importance to the other person, the chances are that suggesting an adjournment will re-open those immediate negotiations. However, do ensure you make the suggestion in a friendly, respectful way which is not dismissive or rude ~ you never know how much you might need this business in the future.
4. Be honest about what exactly the stumbling block is for you and why you are unable to relent in that area. This will invite the other person to do the same, in which case you are both still negotiating in a way which might allow you to identify a mutual adjustment and shared solution.
5. Consider how much you want this negotiation to work and what is the smallest compromise that you could make in order to secure this deal. If the compromise is possible, then offer it and move things along.
6. Be aware of your future prospects and dealings with your opposing number. Is it worth it to you to offer not just compromises, but sacrifices, in order to secure the deal and future business, a business equivalent of the retail ‘loss-leader’?
7. Ask for a legal opinion on the proposed contract. Most people respect the legalities of business and understand that this is a regular part of business agreements. In this instance, it not only keeps the negotiations open where they may have faltered, but also buys both parties valuable breathing space in which to reconsider those sticky areas.
8. However difficult the negotiations have become, don’t be trite or unprofessional in your dialogue. Using phrases such as “I hear what you’re saying but ...” imply that you are actually rejecting their points. Turn this on its head by looking for joint solutions in a “so what can we do to make this work ...?” kind of way, which shows that you’re not only listening but also trying to make things work in a professional and courteous manner.
9. Talk business. Literally, steer the conversation away from the sticking points and onto the greater topic of future business you could do together. Nothing helps encourage compromise more than the promise of future business and now’s the time to remind your colleague about this.
10. Keep something up your sleeve. Always go into a negotiation with a little something you could use for leeway, a special offer, deal or discount which can come into play as a ‘thank you’ for sealing the deal then and there. This in itself can often
make the deal happen.
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, February 26, 2018 - Startup Commons announces global ecosystem applications marketplace with open call for app developers around the world building applications, SaaS services or platforms focused on startups business creation, managing support services for startups or managing & coordinating ecosystem development, and looking to expand to more ecosystems.
“As part of our work with various startup ecosystems around the world, we came across growing interest in applications used in other regions, to learn from these applications and developers for own local ecosystem needs.” - says Oscar Ramirez, CEO, Startup Commons Global.
“We know there are number of great applications and online services being developed and operated in these ecosystems. There are also many exceptional and dedicated developers working on their digital solutions, having great understanding and perspective of ecosystem developers challenges, understanding business creators or support providers needs at various startup development phases.
As a global ecosystem facilitators with a member base of over 30 000 ecosystem actors around the world, we want to help good applications scale to new markets with new user & customers, and help ecosystems key actors to find best connected applications to accelerate their progress and ecosystem development.”
Applications Marketplace is a natural extension of Startup Commons EcosystemOS - a serverless cloud architecture for developers, including ecosystem level user accounts and ecosystem API's, with global standards and documentation for user data portability, API connections, data models, data sharing principles.
Open a call for first batch of ten best digital solutions:
Apply to join Startup Commons Marketplace
Oscar Ramirez, CEO
Phone: +34 656 180 880
About Startup Commons
Startup Commons is dedicated to digitizing and connecting startup ecosystems globally to scale entrepreneurship, innovation and business creation around the world, by providing digital connectivity and solutions to enable data-driven economic development and policy making for local ecosystems.
This post is for anyone taking part with entrepreneurship, innovation or startup ecosystem development at any level.
As part of iteratively improving our Startup Ecosystem development framework, Startup Commons has created a new approach to describe key actor segments in startup ecosystems. Our website is now also divided between these four segments: business creators, support providers, ecosystem developers, digital teams - to help you find the most relevant content for each segment.
Although there are overlaps between the various roles that people play, we have learned that it is valuable for ecosystem actors to identify the roles that they play at any given time to enhance the effectiveness of their interactions within the broader ecosystem.
A simple example is our Growth Academy's startup entrepreneurship education curriculum that has at least two relevant segments and perspectives;
From Ecosystem Developers' perspectives, they should be aware of and evaluate the availability of such or similar curriculum in their ecosystem and how it is performing ie. how is it made available, offline and/or digital format? how often is it run? What is the number of participants? What is the feedback for quality/value of the curriculum for participants? What is the impact for ecosystem top level KPI’s (like number of new businesses created, improved success rate, faster growth, etc.)?
Step by step, we will be adding these segments into all of our materials and applying them to all of our communications going forward. This should not only help you find the most relevant content on our website but also help you to understand the perspective from which any items can be perceived.
Key Ecosystem Roles in more detail
Please take some time to understand these roles since they will help you make sense of the jobs that people do within your ecosystem and identify which roles need to be filled.
A. Business Creators
Business Creators are people who as their primary role develop new companies. They include founders, entrepreneurs, key team members, investors and board members. Ie. founders & other equity holders. In this segment, there are naturally category specific subroles at the strategy and operative levels, as well as for specific skills or company operations specific roles. From finance to management, to designers, developers, sales etc.
Business Creators perspective, role, and focus is in one company (or depending on their more specific role to only few companies) at a time for longer period of time in logical and balanced manner over longer period of time; especially in case of being a founder, early team member, or angel investor.
It is also quite common that people who are founders, later on become "serial entrepreneurs" and Business Creators in more flexible or more systematic ways. Ie. more flexible would be becoming an advisor board member, mentor etc. and more systematic would be to become an angel investor, VC, create own accelerator etc.
Many Business Creators also work together with support providers as mentors, advisors board members etc. to a) share their expertise for support organizations needs and/or b) to build relationships to get "deal flow" of new entrepreneurs and early startups with which to work. As they become more involved, they will acquire more channels for "deal flow" and reputation building. At the same time, involvement in the ecosystem is a lot about just "giving back" as well.
B. Support providers
Support providers are all the public and private support function providers catering support services directly for venture building, mainly free or for nominal fees (subsidized by government or other bigger organizations). The support providers are available in the ecosystem, and providing the support function is their primary role. At the same time, some of them also have overlapping roles in venture building (investors, board members, accelerators etc.) or in ecosystem development (universities, incubators, banks etc.). Additionally, in this category, there are naturally category specific subroles at the strategy and operative levels, as well as for specific skills or organization operations specific roles. From finance to management, to designers, developers, sales etc. depending on the support function.
Support providers' jobs are to cater for specific need of Business Creators at a specific stage of the ventures development and provide support to that need effectively. As such their support for venture may be very effective, deep and valuable, but it’s meant to serve a high volume of ventures and only for relatively short time (to remove the need and help venture move forward).
Most support service organization primary operative people do not typically possess an entrepreneurial background, or they may have some experience from long ago, without big success (there are naturally expectations as well). They learn from their partner mentors but also from startups they help, as well as many many trainings, events etc. that they organize, listen, and learn.
While support providers may not have first hand experience, they have a lot of "holistic" understanding and can be very helpful to new entrepreneurs. They also gain unique perspectives on startups because they see a lot of them, gaining exposure to many ideas and types of people. They develop a strong and interesting skillset, especially if they cater to various different support functions at different development stages over time. These roles also help to create necessary talent for ecosystems, and some support providers eventually join startup teams or become founders or other Business Creators themselves.
The key difference in perspective between Business Creators and Support function providers is that Business Creators focus on one, or a maximum of a few, ventures at a time for longer periods of time, and they possess direct stakes (equity positions) in their companies' success, gradually developing them through various development phases. On the other hand, support function providers mainly focus on specific needs of business creation, typically at a specific stage of the venture's life, without having direct stake in the outcome. This gives them neutral and non-biased positions. It also means that support function providers cater to higher volumes of ventures in shorter periods of time, focusing on solving specific needs at hand.
In earlier stages of development, the volume of ventures is higher, and the hands-on interaction period is shorter. Additionally, in the earlier stages, support providers help to partially fill in for certain types of roles and provide external perspectives in the short term before the team have other “more built-in” external/strategy perspective business creators committed (ie. board members, advisors, investors).
C. Ecosystem Developers
Ecosystem Developers are focused on startup ecosystem orchestration and are made of policy makers and ecosystem developer individuals whose primarily interest and role is to develop the ecosystem as a whole. The key focus of ecosystem developers is not directly in either venture building or providing a specific support function but rather to focus on developing and growing the ecosystem from these components in indirect ways. Ecosystem developers directly support operative support providers and indirectly support business creators (policy, funding instruments, funding for support functions etc.).
To be able to develop the ecosystem, ecosystem developers need to create and maintaining holistic pictures of the majority of businesses being created and the related “collective support providers funnel” composed from individual support functions available for the Business Creators needs - and to manage the balance between these two main segments at various development stages, verticals and levels (availability balance between need & supply at any given time). They also manage the effective quality and efficiency of these services. Where there are gaps, bottlenecks, unmet needs, imbalance, inefficiency or obstacles, - new ecosystem development initiatives should be created. However, before creating new initiatives, a holistic view of existing initiatives and their statuses should be collected.
While there may be multiple organizations running development projects independently or collectively, ecosystem developers' roles are to coordinate and maintain lists of these ecosystem development initiatives and projects in logical manners and manage up-to-date information about their priorities and statuses.
D. Digital teams & Applications
Each of the other segments have some different connections with the digital side or even have their own digital team members, ie applications to support operative processes like CRM, newsletters etc., websites for publishing information, online services & tools like communities, or funding applications etc. and people making selections for these tools and providing supporting for users. This fourth segment is divided to two parts: (1)those who select the applications to be used and provide user support for those within their organization (digital teams) and (2)tools being used (applications) & developers who actually create new ones or develop them.
Digital skills are in high demand and short supply - Digital teams are responsible for developing, testing, and implementing a set strategy to reach, engage and serve target audiences through digital channels and applications like web, mobile, and social. While other groups may create the strategy, draft the messaging, etc. a digital team works hand-in-hand with communication and service team leaders to create the digital strategy, most often reporting through the CEO or COO. Digital teams are also often responsible for providing guidelines and tracking for KPI's and implementing cross-channel analytics, as well as surfacing relevant emerging trends and audience behavior. Digital teams collaborate heavily with application people, who are responsible for critical technology infrastructure and associated applications.
Naturally within these segments, there are also related categories like designers, frontend and backend developers, project managers, support people etc. The main reason to separate digital teams and applications into its own segment is that while they are part of any of the other segments they can be considered to focus only on a) what applications are needed, b) what will be used (including in some cases to self develop suitable application) and c) how to use the selected applications to support the main functions.
To help make digital transformation in economic development for more data-driven policy making, learn how a ecosystem level digital team setup would look like.
If you found this post valuable in your ecosystem development activities, please consider sharing it with your network.
Download related presentation: Ecosystem Key Actor Segments
About Ecosystem Development
We know startup ecosystem development and understand it is a multilayered, complex and challenging long term endeavor. However, this is where economic development is competing now globally, and the only way to be competitive is to attack the challenge head on and keep going.
This is a small summary snapshot of our more complete Startup Ecosystem development framework and materials. Get in touch to start scheduling a workshop or consulting project to take your ecosystem to next level.
Supporting startup ecosystem development, from entrepreneurship education, to consulting to digital infrastructure for connecting, measuring and international benchmarking.
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