The Startup Champions Network, a national organization of entrepreneurial ecosystem builders with a strong Silicon Prairie presence, announced on October 29 that it received a planning grant from the Kansas City, Missouri-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
An entrepreneurial ecosystem builder is a person who helps facilitate the multi-faceted creation and improvement of the components of the system needed to spur entrepreneurs and their companies.
In many communities, these ecosystem builders can be found at Chambers of Commerce, coworking spaces, or accelerators – though, these are not the only places or roles of an ecosystem builder. “An ecosystem builder is a person who is building the systems that make it easier for all community participants to start and succeed,” said Larkin Garbee, the Richmond, Virginia-based Interim Executive Director of the Startup Champions Network.
In addition, Garbee described the changing environment of the U.S. economy and why ecosystems matter. “In the U.S. we have seen a rise in startup and innovation activity outside of typical epicenters like Silicon Valley. These developments are the direct result of the work of entrepreneurial ecosystem builders who are driving economic outcomes by creating local and regional initiatives that support and grow new businesses.”
In the press release announcing the organization’s grant, Philip Gaskin, Director of Entrepreneurial Communities at Kauffman Foundation stated: “We are delighted to see where the SCN team has taken the craft of ecosystem building. With their micro-level access to ecosystem builders across the country and our focus on empowering communities to scale the entrepreneurial spirit in their communities, we look forward to working with SCN and learning from their knowledge and experience in this space.”
The Silicon Prairie is a direct beneficiary of the Startup Champions Network because of the network’s ties to the Midwest via the Kauffman Foundation relationship, and because many of its members are community builders in Midwestern cities. Regionally, the Champions are:
Cedar Rapids – David Tominsky
Chicago – Nirav Amin
Des Moines – Geoff Wood (Silicon Prairie News alum)
Fargo – Greg Tehven, Annie Wood
Fayetteville – Michael Iseman
Iowa City – Amanda West
Jamestown – Katherine Roth
Lincoln – Brian Ardinger, Christina Oldfather
Kansas City – Andy Stoll, Adam Arredondo, Matthew Marcus, Melissa Roberts
Madison – Amy Gannon, Scott Resnick
Oklahoma City – Joshua Fahrenbruck
Omaha – Tom Chapman
Peoria – Randon Gettys
St. Louis – Jay DeLong
If you are new to the Silicon Prairie or new to the individual city or just want to learn more about a community, the Startup Champion in the region is a good place to start.
For more information about the organization – check out their website at www.championsnetwork.co.