Startup Ecosystem Building – More is Better, Or Is It?

There are many aspects of life where more is better and as such there are many times we employ strategies to maximize the more.  A few examples that many of us live by are:

  • Money
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Priceless Art
  • Experiences
  • Time with loved ones
  • Goals in ice hockey (ok maybe just me).

In terms of startup community building, there are a plethora of activities that local leaders utilize to create lift.  (For clarity, I am using the word “activities” in a very broad sense.) These may include:

  • Hackathons
  • Coffee meetups ~ 1 Million Cups
  • Grant Programs
  • Pitch Competitions
  • Learn to Code Academies
  • Accelerators
  • Networking Socials
  • Startup Weekends
  • Recruitment Events
  • Venture Funds
  • Community Blogs

The list literally goes on and on. Developing ecosystems are first challenged to convene the various actors across the ecosystem.  This has an immediate positive impact as the tribe begins to organize.  Participate in this over a few months and some momentum begins to build.

As a community matures, activities naturally increase as newly motivated leaders step up and attempt to fill various voids.  In many mature communities, there may be as many as  2-3 events every week.

I find the number, the diversity and the cadence of these activities to be one of the critical signals as to the maturity of an ecosystem. 

But beware.  There is a trap that evolves in some minds that if the first handful of activities start to build some very visible momentum, then more activities would have an even larger effect.  Unfortunately there I a ceiling to the # of activities and the subsequent impact.

In terms of startup community building, the more is better strategy has a very visible limit to its effectiveness.  Once a critical mass of organizing activities are achieved (different trigger points for different communities), then the strategy should shift to building more meaningful activities.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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About Me

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder, national writer waxing poetic about founders, startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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