To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

Ecosystem builders provide the framework of support that founders need to scale. They do this by diagnosing needs and connecting founders to the right information, resources, organizations, and people at exactly the right time. What is not often included in this definition, is the additional role of education and coaching.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

It’s accepted in Silicon Valley that 9 out of ten startups will fail. That’s the gamble. In the rest of the country, that gamble is unacceptable. That’s nine teams of people without a job. That’s economic devastation. When we do our work better, when we ground ourselves in data, when we iterate and develop this field, we can (and must) flip the script so that 9 out of ten startups succeed. I am motivated to help founders build better businesses, by figuring out product-market fit in fast and focused ways.

What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?

Bringing The Fluency Score to a cohort selection process in an accelerator has increased the diversity of the founders in that cohort. How? By stripping away the leg up of “who you know” and the overvaluing of the ability to pitch, the truly great companies de-risking their business model in smart, fast ways rose to the top.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

The startup world asks founders to disrupt their industries with data. But there is no driving force critiquing the startup industry, informing learnings, and making it better. We are iterating on our gut instinct. Think what advertising was before big data. It was a lot of guess work. Think how much more effective it is now that data drives the decision making and allocation of advertisers. The same will be true for our work, but first we have to stop believing that startup success is luck and magic. It’s not the wild west anymore. How to build a scaling startup is a known process that can be understood, taught, and achieved in a repeatable way.

What ecosystem building skill/knowledge do you want to gain?

I am eager for the learnings that will surface when we network the entire industry around standardized language and data using The Fluency Score. Our support work will improve exponentially, and founders will be building better businesses.

What are the most important things that need to happen to advance the field of ecosystem building?

Data-based decision making is imperative, to achieve true economic development and also to truly value diverse founders.

How can we support you in your efforts?

We are looking for partners and collaborators that want to see The Fluency Score in action in their ecosystem AND for those who want to create larger state-wide or regional networks of data using The Fluency Score. When we know that a community is hungry for this, we can often bring larger partners and resources, including grants, to a large collaborative project.