Unsung Hero Spotlight: Harshita Girase

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

Based on the traits and behavior of ecosystem builders around me, an ecosystem builder to me is someone who actively engages with different stakeholders in an ecosystem and welcomes new members as well. They are builders, connectors and mentors who are well aware of the strengths of their network and know how to connect people to resources. They strive to create and generate consistent activity to keep their stakeholders engaged and keep the ecosystem healthy and growing through meaningful collaboration.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

Being able to see people with a variety of skill sets come together and witness the positive growth of a community. Every Tuesday, members (50-100) of Buffalo’s startup ecosystem gather at 7:30am to network, connect and share their skills and ideas with each other. As far as I remember, this wasn’t the case a couple years ago. I’ve been fortunate enough to see this tremendous growth and shift in the community’s mindset which is super motivating and pushes me to consistently contribute and encourage others to do the same.
What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?
Director of UB Hacking, an annual student-run hackathon at the University ta Buffalo. I started out as a volunteer and went on to become a Director. It has been super satisfying to be a part of this event, watch and help the event grow over the span of four years and to see that my contribution has made an impact on other rising leaders.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an Ecosystem Builder?

Lack of diversity in the members of the ecosystem and how to keep existing members engaged.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

I would really like to figure out how to get more diverse people involved in the ecosystem.

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

Storytelling, presentation skills and how to manage relationships with different types of people.

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

Having opportunities to connect with mentors who’ve been on a similar path would be beneficial to members. Having some place where members can find important information that they need to be successful instead of solely being dependent on an ecosystem builder will also be helpful to ease the burden on them and also encourage members to seek out methods to collaborate with other community members independently.

What others are saying about Harshita

Harshita worked at SUNY UB to help build their “UB Hacking” Hackathon into an 800 person weekend. Upon graduation she worked for Code for America and is also an active and engaged community leader in Buffalo. She was the Startup 101 track captain for Buffalo’s inaugural startup weekend in 2019.


Related: Cultivate a Culture of Trust and Collaboration within our Field: ESHIP Goal 2

Anika Horn

Anika Horn is an ecosystem builder for social change, social enterprise advisor and storyteller. She is on a mission to equip ecosystem builders with the insights, resources and community to lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. Learn more about her work at SocialVenturers.com and AnikaHorn.com.

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