‘GROWing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ was a post I originally wrote for Accelerate Okanagan and Startup Canada.
So, I went to GROW 2012 last week. What can I say? It was an amazing event. I’ve been to some pretty dry conferences in my time, and this event was anything but. DealmakerMedia did a fantastic job creating a professional yet hip vibe that persisted throughout the two days I attended.
But besides the valuable learning provided by industry leaders, connections made and the formation of new ideas, I wanted to touch on the concept of theEntrepreneurial Ecosystem. It was mentioned at the conference by the charismatic Dave McClure, founder of the US-based accelerator, 500 Startups. It’s an interesting idea, and, being a biologist by trade, I couldn’t help but attach myself to the catch phrase.
Wikipedia defines ecosystem as “a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.” Let’s look at it in terms of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem:
- The Community – Entrepreneurs, risk-takers, crazy people doing things that are not safe or predictable
- The Environment – Accelerate Okanagan, Startup Canada, support groups, events, conferences, friends & family
- The System – This is where it becomes interesting — the interaction between the entrepreneurs and their environment, whatever it may be. To create a viable and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, the community and the environment need to work hand in hand.
An environment provides the means for a community to grow. It can create competition to encourage success stories and raise the bar. It can provide a space for cooperation so individuals can work together to achieve a common goal. The environment needs to support proliferation so there is a constant influx of up and coming entrepreneurs.
For two days, GROW 2012 was my environment and I was one of ~900 individuals in its community. Did it push me to be greater, stronger, faster? I guess time will tell.