We recommend checking out these resources as an great place to start – Recommended Reading
By studying models developed abroad (ie: places like, Silicon Valley, Boulder, Israel), those more close to home (ie: places like, Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne) and through our own experiences and assessments of what regional entrepreneurs need to be successful, we identified the following key ingredients of startup and innovation ecosystem, which were largely missing, underdeveloped, or disconnected in the Regional areas:
An ecosystem needs a champion or a team of champions to provide a driving force. A champion is a catalyst that accelerates interest and activity, which is particularly important in the very beginning or when entering a new growth phase. But champions also play important roles in keeping stakeholders focused and moving forward on an ongoing basis. Beyond passion, a champion must inherently understand the necessity for an ecosystem. Ideally, they seek to benefit from the ecosystem but also wish to see it developed for the benefit of the broader community.
It is essential to develop an entrepreneurial culture within a region, not only among the entrepreneurs themselves but among all stakeholders. The irony of the regional mindset is that, despite its familiarity with “small businesses”, it struggles to understand how a “startup” is something altogether different. For many stakeholders, there is a learning curve in understanding the “scalability” and “innovation” required for a startup to deliver the kind of growth required to fulfill the promise entrepreneurship holds for economic development. Today’s regional startups represent a completely new way of doing business, and despite their regional location, they often aim to operate on a global scale from the very beginning. The entrepreneurial culture must reflect this paradigm shift.
Working in isolation, an entrepreneur is doomed to fail. A strong and diverse network of other entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers, investors, etc. helps entrepreneurs share ideas, access resources, receive encouragement and advice, overcome barriers, and learn about new opportunities. Although every individual has their own set of relationships, an ecosystem can help formalize, expand, and activate an entrepreneur’s network.
In a regional context, the saying “it takes a village to raise a startup” is particularly relevant. The ecosystem must ensure ongoing engagement among key stakeholders, including entrepreneurs; local, state, and federal governments; service providers (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and consultants), educational and research institutions; mentors; investors; media; and, most importantly, entrepreneurs.
To build capacity in a region, there must be a clear process, or runway, that will lead entrepreneurs from idea to commercialization to exit. All other stakeholders must understand and “buy in” to this process, and every aspect of the ecosystem should be designed to support and further develop it.
Physical space and events
Entrepreneurs need a place to work and benefit from the availability of coworking space. Having a suitable place to run events and programs also helps to bring the people and the ideas together and to stimulate an environment of strategic risk taking and entrepreneurship. Thus, the physical space becomes a means of sharing information and knowledge, building a community, and fostering the necessary culture.
We appreciate that there’s not a one size fits all approach, however there are some building blocks which apply to most regions and are at the heart of development. The metrics we use to benchmark and measure growth are highlighted below. As a first stage we invite you to chat with us to see where your region is at.
Metrics or key fundamentals we measure include:
- Regional Startup & Innovation champion (team). Does the region have one?
- Key stakeholders. Have they been identified and to what extent have they been engaged?
- Physical place. Has one been established?
- Number of relevant programs & events run each month
This will help us quickly establish where your region is at and devise programs to move them forward. Likely programs (sequence of programs) are detailed below
Let’s get started