To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

Someone that is willing to invest their time and energy into understanding what the community needs to grow and taking action. They provide equal opportunities for all people to get connected and engage with others, showcase the amazing people and organizations to inspire others, and help establish new relationships that can make a lasting impact.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

I always see potential for growth. Whether it’s in other people or the way things are done, if I don’t take action to help make a positive impact, who will? The best time to see change happen is by starting today and being committed to those efforts. There is no other way.

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

To date, I would have to say Meet the Meetups – Northeast Wisconsin. The goal of the event was to showcase the incredible tech and entrepreneurial groups in the area so that people can get connected, collaborate, and understand that there are amazing people moving Wisconsin forward. Me and my team were able to gather 200 people for the event and months later, I still hear people say “Yeah I went to meet the meetups and found out about this event. It was so cool to hear about all the great groups in the area and how they are helping the community grow.” The echoes of that event provided validation for us to do more events like that. We are planning another event for June and look forward to another for November.

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

Getting more support from others, spreading awareness, and financial support from organizations in our community. We are making progress though! More people are seeing what is happening, becoming willing to volunteer and help, and helping us get connections for financial sponsorship so we can continue to gain momentum and increase the quality of our events. We still become amazed by the new faces that never knew events and groups have been existing in our community for the past 5 years or more. It’s great to be able to get in touch with new people through better awareness efforts.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

I’m already a busy person, some days having the time and energy to get everything done can be overwhelming. With financial and volunteer support, we can divide and conquer so we can all do our best to put on better events and help the community as needed.

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

Hmm. Maybe if there are resources that the state can provide us to support our efforts?

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

  • Awareness of the opportunities and resources in your city.
  • Support from city leaders, business leaders, and organizations to help efforts grow and improve.
  • Passionate people; You need a team of people that believe in the cause and willing to volunteer and help make a difference.

What others are saying about Jacob

He helped organize a collaboration of Meetup groups called ‘Meet the Meetups’, was centrally involved in Startup Week, and has organized a number of specific Meetups on hi-tech subjects.


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 and