As the managing partner at Beta Boom, a high-touch seed fund that focuses on emerging tech hubs, I have had the great fortune to speak to scores of entrepreneurs, tech workers, investors, and civic leaders in over a dozen emerging startup ecosystems in the United States as well as in regions such as Indonesia, Uruguay, and Nigeria. Through these conversations and numerous visits, I noticed that some ecosystems that seem replete with resources fail to meet the needs of local startups while others with smaller communities and fewer programs have thriving, successful tech scenes.

After giving this phenomenon considerable thought, I realized that resources don’t directly translate to meeting startups’ needs much in the same way that cramming features into a product doesn’t necessarily make it more useful. Instead of engaging in a race to create more resources, I believe that more effective startup ecosystems can be built by focusing instead on the needs that startups have. Only after truly understanding startups’ needs, should we consider what resources can best meet those needs. We can think of this as need-centered ecosystem design.Read More