Unsung Hero Spotlight: Steven Rodriguez

Steven Rodriguez

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

Someone who works at the intersection of economic/community/ecosystem development, is data-driven, collaborates and connects diverse stakeholders, focuses on being the right kind of busy and has a give #GiveFirst attitude.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

The opportunity to break down barriers to wealth generation for all.

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

Celebrate entrepreneurship programming and events, most notably Techstars Startup Week, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and 1 Million Cups.

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

Resolving stakeholder ego, ‘limited pie’ mentality, lack of diversity at the initial table, and people who cannot fathom doing more than one thing at a time.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

Stakeholders who cannot work at scale, or try to control things.

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

Data analysis and science in ecosystem work.

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

More understanding of the multi-disciplinary role of an ecosystem builder today, and the ability for aging stakeholders to adapt adequately.

What others are saying about Steven

He’s a #GiveFirst kind of person. He focuses on identifying common threads to help connect stakeholders and community members to grow and accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Steven is data-driven, focusing on measurable outcomes and impact, and minimizing noise and resources; being the right kind of busy essentially. He’s less about being in the spotlight, more about placing the spotlight on others. His work in the Washington DC area has been expanded to serve NYC, Miami, and Bogotá in Colombia. More importantly, he’s able to identify gaps in the entrepreneurs journey (similar to the startup development journey by StartupCommons.org) with the data collection to focus efforts in programming and events that help the entrepreneur more effectively get across the proverbial ‘chasm of death.’ His is not just a director, but also executes and not afraid to do the good work required to improve the ecosystem; he has helped organize and launch the various Techstars Startup Programs in Washington DC, Hartford Connecticut, and event Bogotá; he has helped launched 1 Million Cups in DC; he has helped launch CMX Connect, relaunch Hackers/Founders DC; and he is now working with Startup Blink and Startup Genome to map and help others understand a more data-driven approach to entrepreneurial ecosystem and community building best practices. And he is a three time delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.


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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