Well first, what is an ecosystem? An Ecosystem is defined as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Similarly, for startups and midsize technology companies, the ecosystem brings together the companies themselves and everything around them that impacts their operations. That also suggests that a nurturing ecosystem is essential for their long-term survival and prosperity. There are a number of things to keep in mind while outlining the ecosystem needs of startups and midsize technology company.
Our view is thatfor our industry, an inter-connectedmulti-layered ecosystem is needed to work the magic. Here’s more about those components.
Firstly, it is the people and their expertise who make up a large part of this enabling. Entrepreneurs with their new ideas take a risk by starting their own company but they can’t go it alone. their company would also need talent. The right kind of employees is required to ideate and execute all those bright ideas to have a successful run in the market. Another, just as essential, talent that such companies find themselves relying on is mentors. It is these mentors who would point them in the right direction.Their advice is based on their own expertise and knowledge of the industry and this makes them an extremely valuable people-resource.
A company needs funds. In case of a bootstrapped startup, this capital is usually pumped in by the founder. The best funding is always from real customers – startups and technology companies that make an impact in the market have the opportunity to generate revenue through sales.Then there are theinvestors. A thriving ecosystem has a fair mix of Angel, Seed, and Venture Capital investors who are willing to bet on the future success of a company. In specific sectors, working with the Government could prove to be of great help too, either directly or through funds allocated to various ministries or government departments. There is also debt-funding in the form of loans available from banks for small and large needs for the short, medium, and long-term funding needs.
Data, research, and the ability to draw actionable insights also play an important role in driving this delicate ecosystem. Ideas need validation and actions must be based on a sound understanding of probable results. Academia plays a key role in this regard of course. This where the market studies are done, new business models are examined for impact, and up or re-skilling training provided to those about the hit the market. Academia is also a hotbed of innovation itself and a place for new and potentially disruptive new ideas to emerge from incubators and shake up the world.
Networking is key too. In the world of business, what you know if only as important as who you know. Networking platforms create opportunitiesfor an exchange of ideas and establishing common ground that can be harvested for business and partnership opportunities. Such events lay a huge role in providing information and education too – be it about the latest government tax or notification, or about the newest wave to hit the world of business.
It’s clear that ongoing education is now critically important. This suggests that a thriving ecosystem must have professional and personal development workshops. Technology is changing fast, business models are being disrupted, customers are becoming more demanding, and competitors are becoming more aggressive every day. In this situation, everyone from the top leadership to the frontline employee faces new challenges all the time. The opportunity to learn how to address these challenges effectively can drive personal and professional success.
Lastly, a thriving ecosystem demands that the startups and technology companies have access to a variety of vendor partners who can help them address specific business requirements effectively, efficiently, and in a cost-effective manner. No company is an island -while they focus on their core skills they can benefit from working with partners for tasks as varied as recruitment, facilities management, accounting and finance, and marketing.
A great example of how different elements of the ecosystem can come together for the benefit of the community is SEAP’s survey of the Innovation Readiness of Pune’s technology sector. We got together with our knowledge partners to capture facts and opinions, evaluate them, and derive insights. The intended outcome was to establish what has been achieved so far, as well as to recommend the way forward.Responses indicated that most companies in Pune were involved in innovation activity. However,the intensity levels of innovation and its management varied. An interesting finding was that apart from technical skills, the need to innovate was likely to put pressure on demands for higher level thinking skills, deeper understanding of the business, social and sustainability needs. This suggested that tech companies may recruit non-engineering candidates to bring in the needed diversity. Leaders need to become adept at making the right strategic decisions to prepare their organizations. Existing employees need to take care of their personal development. The survey is available here for those who want to know more, but it’s fair to say that some key directions emerged for those companies looking to adopt innovation.
It is impossible for any human endeavor to survive without proper framework or structure. Just like life needs a balanced ecosystem to survive, startups and mid sized technology companies need a supportive ecosystem as well. The role of industry organizations like SEAP is to foster a vibrant ecosystem that enables technology companies of all sizes to thrive!