Mapping a startup ecosystem is a worthy endeavour for ecosystems big and small. This post explores the four key benefits to mapping your startup ecosystem.
Mapping a startup ecosystem is a worthy endeavour for ecosystems big and small. Uncovering all the organisations and resources that support founders within a specific region.
There are four key benefits to mapping a startup ecosystem:
- Analysis & reporting
- Assist founders
- Promote the ecosystem
- Create a sense of unity
When undertaking an entrepreneurial ecosystem mapping project, it’s important to establish the purpose and which of these benefits you wish to achieve. Doing this allows you to ensure the correct data collection and categorisation is used.
A trap many ecosystem builders fall into is thinking that the solution or output of a mapping process is the same for each of these different challenges.
Analysis & Reporting
A detailed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a startup ecosystem is a key component to the ecosystem development process.
Mapping out the initiatives that already exist gives you a point in time view of an ecosystem’s development. This gives you an important baseline to measure and report on progress.
When these initiatives are categorised and overlaid with ecosystem development frameworks you can start to see areas of strength and weakness.
This bird's eye view of the ecosystem can inform strategic decision making and guide funding to higher impact initiatives or those that fill a gap.
A startup founders’ journey is extremely challenging. Discovering the initiatives and resources designed to support them shouldn’t be.
Making it easy to discover support options, benefits both newcomers and experienced founders. Even the most well-known initiative or resource is often unknown to many.
The challenge here (besides keeping it up-to-date) is finding a balance between being comprehensive without being overwhelming. It needs to be presented in a structure that has a time-poor founder in mind.
A brief overview of the initiative and link to a website is 10x more useful than just the initiative name. Categories such as stage, industry/ sector and type of support can help founders quickly determine relevant initiatives.
Promote the ecosystem
Mapping your startup ecosystem can be a great way to showcase vibrancy of your startup community.
Making it easy for visitors and key stakeholders to see all the initiatives available to founders at a glance can be highly impactful in changing perceptions.
Startup ecosystems are often made up of a range of independent initiatives. It’s often surprising to see just how much is happening when it’s all visible in one place.
Furthermore it can create a more cohesive story for key stakeholders to promote the successes of the ecosystem.
Create sense of unity
Startup ecosystems are often made up of a diverse set of fragmented initiatives. Displaying them all in one place creates a sense of connectedness and unity.
The teams running entrepreneurial support organisations are often so stretched and focused on what they are delivering that they can’t see the forest for the trees.
Providing a bird’s eye view of an ecosystem is a useful way to remind key stakeholders that there are a multitude of support organisations that make up any entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Making support initiatives easily discoverable, can lead to collaboration opportunities, minimise the unnecessary duplication of support initiatives and create a sense working together towards a common goal of supporting local founders.
Undertaking an entrepreneurial ecosystem mapping initiative is a valuable endeavour for ecosystems of all sizes. While it's not always easy, the four benefits detailed above create huge value for both startup founders and ecosystem builders.
Being clear on the purpose and desired benefits you wish to achieve is critical to ensuring both the data collection and presentation format is fit for purpose. Don’t fall into the trap of picking a solution (i.e. a subway style map) before you are clear on the problem you are trying to solve. For more on this see our post on Why your startup ecosystem map shouldn’t be a map