Startup Ecosystem Research

“You want to be a one-of-a-kind company. You want to be the only player in a small ecosystem.”

Researching Emerging Startup Ecosystems

Startup ecosystems exist in most regions and major cities around the world. However, the startups within the ecosystems and the networks they form are often invisible or difficult to identify. If the startup ecosystem is new and emerging, the startup linkages and networks can be challenging more challenging to find.

I conducted the startup ecosystem research for my business TheCodeFactory, between 2007 and 2008. The intention was to understand the local startup ecosystem to determine where to locate my coworking space. I located my business in downtown Ottawa to expect the growth and emergence of the web and mobile (SaaS Software) ecosystem. A key benchmark in 2007 was that Shopify was four people located above a coffee shop in downtown Ottawa.  

Understanding Startup Ecosystems

The key to understanding startup ecosystems is to identify the key stakeholders and how they interrelate. Once you understand the stakeholders and linkages, you can map the relationships. I usually start my research by asking the following questions;

  • Who are the key stakeholders in the startup ecosystem?
  • What are the connections and linkages between stakeholders?
  • Where are the opportunities and threats for my startup?

How to Map a Startup Ecosystem

I typically use the following five steps to do the ecosystem mapping;

  1. Identify the stakeholders
  2. Categorize stakeholders into homogenous groups
  3. Map the stakeholder clusters and communication linkages
  4. Categorize linkage strengths and directions
  5. Identify opportunities & threats

Frequently Asked Questions

What is startup ecosystem research?

Startup ecosystem research is the study of startups and emerging technology in a given geographic region. Ecosystems are typically loosely coupled distributed networks of organizations. Similar types of startups tend to congregate and start in the same area. Conducting research is performed in two steps; mapping stakeholders and developing a value chain.

How would I use startup ecosystem research for my business?

Understanding the ecosystem’s structure and dynamics can help you build a defensible competitive advantage.  Partnering strategies, identifying opportunities, and deciding where to locate are often useful outputs of researching a startup ecosystem.

What are the outcomes of your startup ecosystem research?

There are usually three outcomes to a startup ecosystem mapping; stakeholder mapping, a value chain, and a list of stakeholders in the area.

How much does your startup ecosystem research cost?

I will work for my minimum base rate. Please contact me, and I would be happy to share the rate with you.

Will you work for sweat equity only?

No, never. However, if you have an exciting project, please feel free to contact me, and I will share my minimum base rate.

Ian Paul Graham

Startup Founder, Small Business Owner, and Advocate.