Startups are like human beings: they can’t exist isolated. As a rule of thumb, startups are created and develop within some context – an accelerator, a community, a network, or an ecosystem where it is easier to network and find support and growth opportunities.
In this article, you’ll find insights into what a startup ecosystem is, what you should consider before entering it, and what benefits it offers to its members.
You’ll find it useful whether you’re just considering building a startup or already have one and are in search of a good ecosystem to join.
To make things clear, let’s firstly take a look at what an ecosystem means and what you should take into account before entering one.
What is an Ecosystem?
We take a startup ecosystem as a privately or government-supported dynamic group of independent economic players that create products or services and are linked in mutually beneficial relationships.
The ultimate goal of any startup ecosystem can’t be underestimated for it impacts people and economies from different perspectives: it helps its startups/investors find investment opportunities; connects founders, business partners, and customers; and – in a global context – creates jobs, attracts talents, and boosts a city’s/country’s brand value and economic development.
It’s worth mentioning that not only startups comprise a startup ecosystem. Apart from them, a startup ecosystem can cover:
- Сolleges, universities, bootcamps, and other educational entities.
- Angel investors, VC firms, crowdfunding websites, private and government support programs/grants, and other funds providers.
- Incubators and accelerators that can combine different services – from providing fundraising and co-working opportunities to technical assistance and mentoring.
- Co-working spaces – companies that offer shared office spaces.
- Different field experts, like individual advisors, advisory firms, consulting companies, mentors, etc.
- Service providers, like bookkeepers or banking providers.
- And finally, those who help you spread a word of mouth about your setting off – media providers (like online publications, blogs, and their social media accounts).
To make an educated decision, make sure you answer these questions before you join a specific ecosystem:
What makes this ecosystem unique? Check what makes it differ from other local/global ecosystems to understand if it could offer you more benefits.
What might be the challenges or restrictions of joining, setting off, or growing a startup in this ecosystem? Some ecosystems, for example, work only with early-stage startups or impose limits to how big a company can get within it.
What industries does it deal with? You have to check if what you do matches with the ecosystem’s activities.
What are the local/global startup success stories within this ecosystem? That’s for you to know if it is really capable of giving you the opportunities you look for.
Who are the leaders of this ecosystem? You want to learn who they are, what they do, and what their background is, since this is a part of your preparation for approaching them.
Is the ecosystem based on government programs or private capital? In some cases, an ecosystem can even combine both private capital and government-driven activities, by helping its portfolio companies apply for government grants, like we do at FutureBlock Malta.
Now, that you know what makes a startup ecosystem, let’s get straight into why joining it is really important for your startup.
By joining a startup ecosystem, you immediately get access to people who may get interested in funding your startup since fund givers, like angel investors, investor groups, investor clubs, VC firms, etc., make an important part of a startup ecosystem.
It is worth mentioning that accelerators and incubators can also offer programs that provide selected startups with the needed capital. Very often, they collaborate with different governments and this way give access to government-driven support plans/grants or assist in applying for them.
Besides, a great advantage about being a part of one ecosystem is that it becomes much easier to approach fund givers: there is no need to look for them outside – you all become connected within one network.
Business Growth Opportunities
Another great advantage of joining a startup ecosystem is that you get a possibility to interact with companies that provide different business growth opportunities. Normally, accelerators, incubators, and hubs can not only invest in pre-seed or early-stage startups but also offer acceleration programs that include business development services, like guidance in choosing the right resources and building a technological roadmap, assistance in the building and implementation of your marketing strategy, software consulting, mentorship and training, etc.
Co-working spaces also add to a startup’s business development since they provide shared working space conditions as well as give you access to freelancers who work in an arms’ reach – a great way to connect with them. 😉
If you are a part of a startup ecosystem, you inevitably get involved in a number of events the ecosystem members organize (if not invited to, you will still be among the first ones to hear about the upcoming conferences/meetups/workshops/hackathons), the aim of which is to spread specific knowledge or help you achieve/practice relevant practical skills.
Besides, many startup studios/accelerators organize academies or camps that assist in acquiring your industry knowledge or provide you with great mentors who will help you master your business management and soft skills and grow both personally and professionally.
Access to New Partners and Customers
Being a part of a startup ecosystem always means collaboration with other members. Thus, if you’re looking for new partnership opportunities (which is obvious if you are trying to grow your undertaking), there’s no better place than a startup ecosystem. Joining one is a direct way to access many new customers or connect with new partners who deal in the same industry and have complementary services to offer.
New Market Penetration
If you are willing to grow your startup’s global activity, you need to join a startup ecosystem. In global ecosystems, you’ll find customers/partners from all over the world which means an opportunity to enter any country’s market.
At FutureBlock and VentureRocket, we give access to thousands of investors, startups, or accelerators, from Israel, the USA, Canada, Europe, Kazakhstan, the UK, Malta, and much more, being a gate to the world’s numerous markets.
Access to New Roles
Apart from an opportunity to be a lead firm in the ecosystem, any partner can perform other roles within it, including traditional supply chains, operational capacity, sales channels, and complementary products and services.
Besides, in many startup ecosystems, you have a chance to change your role to a completely new one. The thing is that if your startup fails, you are often welcomed to enter the network as an individual service provider and assist as an advisor or a consultant for other startups or even as a mentor for executives. There’s always a chance to take up a new activity, still being a part of an ecosystem. Sounds great, doesn’t it? 😉
At VentureRocket, we unite investors, startups, accelerators, incubators, hubs, and more into one global ecosystem. Moreover, we deal with governments that support startups from all over the world.
Explore your opportunities and join the VentureRocket ecosystem here.