I’ve been involved in the ESHIP Storytelling initiative from its early days as a concept through dozens of community calls and interactions with fellow ecosystem builders. Over that time I’ve been asked to provide background and context about it to those who are interested in storytelling for ecosystem builders. As the ESHIP Summits transition to a delivery stage there is an opportunity for more ecosystem builders to engage and get involved in the delivery of the goals and initiatives. With that in mind, I wanted to publish a brief history of the origin and journey of the ESHIP Storytelling Initiative.


The Origin of ESHIP Storytelling 

At the second ESHIP Summit in July 2018, attendees submitted initiative ideas for the 7 ESHIP Goals on hundreds of index cards. In the weeks following that summit, these index cards were collected, collated, documented, and analyzed to identify similarities, overlaps, and gaps.

ESHIP Community Manager Cecilia Wessinger was instrumental in leading this analysis. As she was processing the information, key patterns began to reveal themselves. Key among these was the idea of curating and sharing stories about ecosystem building. Suggested initiatives with storytelling about ecosystem building cut across the ESHIP goals. Through this discovery, storytelling as an initiative emerged as an overarching theme. In those very early days I worked with Cecilia to map out where storytelling intersected with other initiatives.

Mapping out initiatives that intersect with storytelling


Through this effort it became clear that storytelling was a high priority for the ESHIP community and in mid-August 2018, Cecilia sent out an email inviting members of the ESHIP community who had expressed an interest in storytelling to a Zoom meeting.

That first Storytelling call took place on Friday, August 17, 2018 and the ESHIP Storytelling project was born. As with other ESHIP initiatives born from the 2018 ESHIP Summit, the plan during the Fall of 2018 and Winter 2019 was to develop project “briefs” that could be presented to National Resource Providers (NRPs), organizations that provide training, support programs, and funding to entrepreneurial ecosystem builders, with the intent of initiative projects being funded, championed, and advanced by NRPs.

In the weeks following the initial call, a project brief was written for a Storytelling initiative and over the remainder of 2018 several more Storytelling calls took place and the concept of an online hub for ecosystem building stories began to take shape.


Preparing for ESHIP Summit 2019

Monthly ESHIP Goal Calls resumed in February 2019 after a break for the holidays and core teams of ecosystem builders coalesced around certain goals and initiatives. While each of the Storytelling calls saw fresh new faces along with regulars who checked in occasionally, a core team of myself, Tyler LeCompte, Avary Kent, and Cecilia Wessinger emerged as the set of people persistently focused on the Storytelling initiative. (Recordings of these calls can be found on the ESHIP Goals Community Dashboard.)

One of the objectives in the early 2019 calls was to prepare to present the initiatives at the 2019 ESHIP Summit. ESHIP Community Managers, Cecilia Wessinger and Christine Lai, along with several ESHIP Champions created a “canvas template,” modeled after the Business Model Canvas concept, to capture key elements of initiatives that could be presented at the Summit.

Initial Storytelling Project Canvas

While these efforts on the calls have value in collectively building a movement, they are by nature slow, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an impatient guy. Back in the Summer of 2018 I had started aggregating, curating, and tracking ecosystem building articles I came across in a spreadsheet. Over the holidays in 2018 I decided to leverage my experience with WordPress and migrated this list to a private WordPress.com blog, thinking that at some point I could share it publicly.

In February, my impatience, along with a strong belief in MVPs got the better of me, leading me to buy a domain name and stand up a public website, EcosystemBuilderHub.com. The intent was for this to be an MVP for an online hub of ecosystem building articles, news, and stories. I’ve continued to curate and aggregate stories here, as well as write and publish some of my own original articles for the website, along with some interviews from Tyler LeCompte.

These efforts were shared with attendees at the 2019 ESHIP Summit. Additionally, during an initiative hack-a-thon on the last day of the summit, attendees had the opportunity to join in and define and refine initiative briefs, including the storytelling initiative.


Some great additional ideas came out of that session that we hope to incorporate into the Storytelling project as it evolves and progresses. Some of these ideas include:

  • Incorporating an editorial board
  • Incorporating an inclusive, rotating council of ambassadors across the seven ESHIP goals to ensure comprehensive and inclusive stories and articles are shared
  • Crowdsourcing stories through mass collaboration across goals
  • Incorporating more robust tagging mechanisms and multiple taxonomies
  • Incorporating the ability to upvote stories


What’s Next

In August this year, revamped ESHIP Goal Meetup calls were relaunched and we’re welcoming ecosystem builders who are interested in storytelling about ecosystem building to join the calls, collaborate, and move Storytelling projects forward. As we move forward, there are a few specific needs and projects that have surfaced.

We continue to seek ecosystem builders who are interested in writing articles and stories about ecosystem building, as well as those looking to help curate stories and articles that already exist. As we expand our reach and find more content, a logical next step is the establishment of an editorial board to ensure that the content that is shared is relevant, inclusive, valuable, and on target. As noted earlier, storytelling crosses and intersects with multiple goals and initiatives. These intersections will surface new projects, or sub-projects. An example of this is the intersection of Goal 6.2, Global Awareness Campaign, and Storytelling. A new sub-project group has recently formed to work on this.

If you’re interested in the storytelling movement within the ecosystem building field and would like to get involved, check out previous calls to get caught up on recent activity and plan to join the next Storytelling call.

ESHIP Storytelling Calls: 4th Wednesday of each month @ 2:00pm CST

Register to join the call

Read the summary of August’s Storytelling Call


New to ESHIP Storytelling? The ESHIP Storytelling initiative has been a work in progress since August 2018. Check out the links and resources below to learn more about this project.


New to the ESHIP Summit community? Check out An ESHIP Summit Primer: Creating an Ecosystem Building Movement.