A Startup Ecosystem: How to Build and Sustain one?

With digitization & the likes of AI & Big Data, communication the way we see it (or for that matter, saw it) has changed so drastically that for those from half-a-century back may not recognize the world of communication as it exists these days. The path ahead, if the present is anything to go by, could be equally unrecognizable.

One of the reasons for the sheer uncertainty is that the medium has spawned practically an entire universe of ideas which themselves generate further ideas. The progression of ideas these days is thus geometric and promises a very star-like landscape where-ever you see it. An advantage of such a scenario is that folks aren’t dependent upon a central body for ideas or even ways to monetise the same and create sources of income. With so much depending upon people themselves to create employment for themselves, it is thus an interesting idea to promote as it does not strain the system (very unlike a normal socialist, centralized structure) and in return, if handled the right way, may generate further employment and an easy decentralized way to increase the GDP where healthy ideas get promoted.

That, is easier said than done because ideas come with the speed of light but implementation takes time, resources and efforts, and sometimes for all their worth, could result in the creation of yet another flop, and sometimes a seriously costly one.

What then would be the idea situation where ideas get generated and nurtured with unerring regularity which brings prosperity to people, the country and the region? It starts with developing the right start-up ecosystem, one which nurtures, teaches, hand-hold and lets the enterprise grow, and which is also around when the entrepreneur wants either to go to the next step or wants to exit.

Today we tell you all there is to build sustainable ecosystems!

  • Identify the basics.

Gains need pains. Find pains, and it’s only a time before gains come to you. For that find a list of all the problems that exist in a system which with the least bit of efforts can be turn around into profitable ideas which benefits everyone. It could be things as simple as getting an office space, the right set of employees and talent to something as complex as identifying who could be your potential customers!

Identify who can put an end to the pains. This typically means you approach established places which generate the right employees and manpower including colleges, schools, institutes and the likes. Sometimes, it could also mean you approach people with the least bit of skills but the right understanding of how to bring an end to pains and turn them into gains. Sometimes the right skills may not be available in the immediate viscinity but may have to be imported from other places in which case, you either develop the talent locally (which means you spend time, resources and efforts) or quicken the pace of the project with costly imports from elsewhere.

Find the right mentors. The single biggest reason most startups fail is that they do not approach the experienced or the experienced do not exist for an industry. Costly mistakes in the initial stages may sometime result in the project getting derailed even before it starts. The right mentor, be it from the same or similar industry can guide a start-up ecosystem in ways which shall keep it from floundering and, also register healthy growth.

Find the right financers. Dreams mean nothing if they cannot be put into action, and one way to go about it is to have the right resources in the form of money. Money puts in place all the other resources required to get any set-up going and more so when the venture is a start-up with zero income. Till the time the venture becomes self-sustaining, finances remain a one-way street pointing towards expenditure. The right financiers also help identify ideas that make the cut versus those that sound great on paper but may not be so in reality.

Find industry captains who are ready to engage with start-ups. Like money attracts money, needs attracts needs. Industry Heads are known to engage with start-up in a give-and-take way. They may invest money, and they may even use the services of the start-up, besides being the mentor for the same. The very presence of industry heads is known to bring the right attention towards a start-ups’ working. The same could be the case of a startup ecosystem.

Find the right place to start an ecosystem. Start-up ecosystem across industries flourish in place where they find the right sustenance which includes office space, meeting places, and those areas where the right human components can be found in abundance. Initially, these start in and around the homes and offices of established mentors and gurus which with time may need to be established in a proper manner in a proper place. Dedicated industrial areas are thus the need of the hour which should cater to every need of start-ups. One should remember that start-ups are in a great hurry to scale up so that they do not perennially depend upon external (and expensive) resources. In their urge to grow the biggest hurdle could be the right infrastructure which could sometimes include even the smallest pin-prick like vehicle parking space!

And when you think you got all there is to create the perfect start-up ecosystem, remember the following points:

  • A start-up is a marathon and NOT a 100-meter sprint, even though the start-up entrepreneur may have all the energy of a sprinter.
  • The best of intention and efforts may result in failure
  • Time is the biggest factor, healer and destroyer
  • Look for a reasons when you fail and work on it for future success.

Locate the right strategy

Get the right ingrediets in place like:

  • Find the right leader from the industry or otherwise
  • Leverage local conditions
  • Build critical mass be it inter-city or intracity
  • Ideas & clients
  • Talent & universities
  • Capital, incubators and equity
  • Service providers
  • Teachers for investment and reinvestment

What is needed on a personal level

  • Understand that it takes time
  • Understand that the best efforts sometimes may bring zero returns
  • Understand that everything happens for a reason or even sometimes the lack of it
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