Creating breakthrough solutions: Behind ecosystem communities - part 2

What are ecosystem communities and why do they matter?

In the first part of this blog post about ecosystem communities, we learned what they were about and covered some examples.

Now, let’s dive in more and learn which elements make a successful ecosystem community, what you can learn and what to use for your own community. I’ll also share with you how I began my community, Ecosystem Burners, which I’m very proud of.

Ecosystem communities thrive thanks to a rich social culture | Photo: Fauxels

What’s the recipe for a successful ecosystem community?

According to the Kauffman Foundation, a thriving ecosystem community includes these key elements:

  • Entrepreneurs who aspire to start and grow new businesses, and the people who support entrepreneurs.
  • Talent that can help companies grow.
  • People and institutions with knowledge and resources to help entrepreneurs.
  • Individuals and institutions that serve as champions and conveners of entrepreneurs and the ecosystem.
  • Onramps (or access points) to the ecosystem so that anyone and everyone can participate.
  • Intersections that facilitate the interaction of people, ideas, and resources.
  • Stories that people tell about themselves and their ecosystem.
  • Culture that is rich in social capital – collaboration, cooperation, trust, reciprocity, and a focus on the common good – makes the ecosystem come alive by connecting all the elements together.

Which additional element is essential for thriving ecosystem communities?

Diversity and inclusion.
Startups and projects that are looking to break through and bring new solutions to challenges, can assist people from different backgrounds and diverse professional experience. These people can bring different perspectives to the table, and serve as a fertilized ground for finding the solutions.

Various viewpoints can also assist in better understanding of the project’s target audience: Who are they? What’s the best way to reach them? Which new audiences can benefit from our product or service?
Additionally, according to Deloitte research, consumers are noticing more and more advertising that includes diverse representation when they consider a purchase.

Apple’s campaign spotlighting the various accessibility features of its devices, for the 2022 International Day of Persons with Disabilities | Video: Apple

But my community is not an ecosystem community. So what can I learn?

The process of building an ecosystem community is not different from building other communities.
That’s why we’ll take into account the regular community’ strategy components.

Additionally, in each community we need to understand the community members’ different interests and answer them.
In an ecosystem community there are multiple interests. Let’s take the EIT Climate-KIC community for example. The financial institutions are interested in getting exposed to solutions with a high chance of success, while the researchers would like to advance their research through information and data. Eventually, the ventures are relying on research that helps them prove to the financial institutions that their success rates are high. However, if your community doesn’t have such a mutual chain like this, you still have to understand who’s your target audience and which community’s activities will answer its needs.

Finally, collaboration is a key element in communities.
I believe that a community thrives when its members are dedicated to the community’s mission and do so by contributing to its success.
Are you managing a product community? When your members help each other understand how to work with your product, it’s a sign that they care.
Running a community around a profession such as designers? Some of your members probably joined because they would like to brand themselves as experts. However, if they support beginner designers, share from their own experience, or refer to potential clients – it’s a win/win.
In both of these examples, the culture of trust and collaboration for the community’s good is majorly important and can contribute to the community’s overall health.

How to build an ecosystem community?

As stated earlier, community strategy’s elements are the same in all community types. However, we could adjust our questions if we want to develop an ecosystem community. For example:

Defining the community’s goal: Is the community goal knowledge-sharing only, or actually supporting the startups through programs initiated by the community’s different stakeholders? For example, are we connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystem players or do we bring to the table a governmental representative, a VC, and a private institution to fund an accelerator program for entrepreneurs?

Mapping the target audience: Who are the entrepreneurs? Are they from a specific field or diverse ones?

Understanding the community’s activities and content: What could the community provide that is currently missing in the ecosystem?

Deciding which roles the community members are serving: Who are the people and institutions that already engage in the field where we want to start an ecosystem community? Are there competing communities, what do they offer, and which collaborations can we create together?

How to build a community?

Here are the 9 essential components

And sometimes, you just have to start

At the end of 2020, a friend, Gal Imbar, suggested, “let’s open a group for entrepreneurs from the Midburn community (the Israeli version of Burning Man).” I was very enthusiastic but afraid that I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the necessary time. As a volunteering side-project, I didn’t have time to sit down and develop strategy, interview potential community members, and build relevant content. Additionally, since I take each project seriously, I didn’t want to be obligated to something that I couldn’t dedicate myself completely to.

Eventually, we did a quick community’s mapping (or more accurately: sub-community), and questioned who it was for. We decided that it was going to be for each Midburn community member who was part of the local ecosystem of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology. Similar to the classic needs’ mapping process, we asked a few friends about the idea and whether they would like to join. We were glad to hear “yes.” We opened a WhatsApp group and progressed from there. Shortly after opening the group, we sent a survey, and that’s how we were able to better-map the community.

Additionally, since the community was created during COVID, once limitations were removed we organized the first face-to-face meeting. One of the members hosted and I asked a friend to deliver a session. Without noticing, people stayed for hours to discuss and network.

At this point, we understood that we had something.

Ecosystem Burners
Supporting entrepreneurship, innovation, and tech. The Ecosystem Burners community | Photo: personal collection

And today, two years later, these are the results:

  • +300 members in the WhatsApp group that we opened.
  • 8 face-to-face events with lectures, workshops, and panels in various topics: marketing, product management, the connection between work and happiness, impact tech, and more. Each event has enough time to network and a tradition began where one entrepreneur gets the chance to pitch their startup.
  • Dozens of community members have found connections to VCs, startups’ partners, jobs, and employees.

And above all, there is the great satisfaction of being able to support others.


Which successful ecosystem communities do you know?
Are you interested in building an ecosystem community and not sure how? Let’s talk and I’ll help you, step by step.



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