I somehow missed posting this last year, when it was published. An excellent article by our very own Salim Virani, on the topic of ecosystems.
Sal and the rest of the FounderCentric team spend a lot of time working with incubators, accelerators, governments, outreach teams at large companies, etc, and helping them develop their startup scenes. Their mission comes from the heart (they really care about helping startup founders), and they are, as far as I know, the best at it at this point, in Europe.
So their thoughts on the topic of how European ecosystems should develop are worth paying attention to. Here's one of the points that particularly stood out for me:
He leaves us with the final takeaway “Support only the best people who have set the objective of being the 1 in 50,000”. So, only support the hugest successes - and leave the others stranded?
From a broad ecosystem perspective, investors are often stumps we have to ignore and grow around to get to the next level. “Like a rotting treestump in the forest, they've established themselves from a past leadership position, still get all the attention, but get in the way of progress.” They do what works for them, but we have to see the broader picture to grow a successful ecosystem.
Investors aren't bad guys; most work in the best interests of startups from their point-of-view.
The problem is when they perpetuate the idea that the “best” startups for them are the best startups for everyone.
Taking the Silicon Valley definition of a "successful startup" and requiring that everywhere in the world as a bar to entry is short-sighted for people who want to bootstrap a startup ecosystem in a city where there is none. There are many ways to build successful businesses, and the "funded mega-high-growth startup" way, the unicorn chasing approach, is simply not a smart approach for most parts of the world.
If you're interested in startup ecosystems, read the full article here.
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