Chosen by Forbes in 2014 as one of the three best cities to start new ventures in the U.S., Austin is an innovation reef. Among the actors making a difference for Austin’s ecosystem is the University of Texas at Austin, home to the IC2 Institute.
Gregory Pogue, deputy director at IC2, investor and technology transfer expert, visited Ecuador in collaboration with ESPOL’s Entrepreneurship Center, IDEA Network, and the ESPAE Graduate School of Management, to seek actionable collaboration with the public, private and academic sectors to help grow the local innovation ecosystem. IC2 has experience fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems in Portugal, Mexico, Turkey, and Colombia, among many other developing countries.
Pogue kindly shared his thoughts with academia on how Ecuador’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its initiatives to change the productive matrix could yield optimal results. He mentioning key profiles that would add value to such initiatives:
• Involving business experts, technologists, and consultants;
• Building and fostering the entrepreneurial network through trust-based connections; and
• Educating key players and entrepreneurs so that new ideas are implemented.
Additionally, Pogue met with Ecuadorian entrepreneurs and actors in the startup ecosystem, explaining how value differs from meaning, and how this might help entrepreneurs find their secret sauce and selling hook for potential clients and investors.
Ideas for future collaboration between entrepreneurs and researchers were also discussed. It was mentioned how different behavioral factors, such as reciprocity profiles, affect the local ways clusters interact and professionals do business. Entrepreneurs’ help can be key in helping assess local environments and culture.
Research in this area would lead to powerful actionable data and methodologies that could help course local policies and processes in Latin America.
As posted in Startup Nations
About our initiative
IDEA Network UQ started as a gathering of entrepreneurs within different disciplines at the University of Queensland, Australia. The main initiative gathered students from Austria, Australia, China, Ecuador and more who went on to bring IDEA Network back to their local ecosystems.
After returning home in 2010, I wanted to build a strong startup community in Ecuador so I founded IDEA Network Ecuador with six other tech entrepreneurs. IDEA Network activities started as meetups and aggregated discussions within a simple Facebook group. The movement began to grow when other IT professionals with the desire to start new companies and entrepreneurship centers started joining the network.
I have presented these concepts at local TEDx events, GEW conferences, BarCamps, Campus Parties and PechaKucha events among others. I have also shared this knowledge at Chile’s Poplus civic hacking conference and Startup Weekend Santiago 2014.
As of today, the IDEA Network Ecuador Facebook Group has 450 members, and has connected local startup event organizers from TEDx events, BarCamps, Meetups, Global Entrepreneurship Forums, as well as the upcoming Lean Startup Machine and Startup Weekend events.
The Ecuadorian ecosystem
Unfortunately, the Ecuadorian startup ecosystem has been severely hindered by initiatives with hidden agendas. Groups started fostering motivational talks, business management seminars, trivial workshops, incubation programs and events that added little value to the entrepreneurs attending the event, but brought in a lot of money for the organizers.
This led to a need to limit posts within the group to only those value-adding articles, and the self-regulation of community members posting content of no value to the network.
Additionally, the lack of funds, trustworthy investors, local NGOs, companies with budgets dedicated entirely to fostering entrepreneurship, lack of trust from local banks, red tape from state operated seed capital, and the lack of online payment platforms still hinder the growth of ideas to ventures in Ecuador.
According to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Ecuador has the highest entrepreneurial index in Latin America, but very few of those entrepreneurs are actually thinking of high-impact and rapid growth ventures. IDEA Network’s goal is to motivate entrepreneurs to have a global scope, and to connect them in their ventures, bypassing intermediaries.
The goal for IDEA Network is to gain more of a presence through an official site and events.
Together with Luis, our co-founder, we wish to build a social platform for projects and new initiatives where actors in the ecosystem can be aggregated and reviewed by new startups and external actors.
This will help IDEA Network Ecuador and others in the Ecuadorian startup ecosystem to shift from traditional social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AngeList and YouNoodle, towards a new platform where actors can easily connect and work together through trust-building reviews.
We want to build a go-to platform where participants are easily identified so they are forced to “blend in” shifting towards trustworthy behavior.
Additionally, we are building links to organize Startup Weekends, bring accelerators and MakerSpaces to the country, and linking with schools to seed the entrepreneurial mindset in young professionals and students. We aim to bring these initiatives to fruition by late 2014 and mid-2015.
As posted in Startup Nations.
Here's some posts I've written elsewhere in both English and Spanish.
You can find my musings on Startup Nations, Matador Network, Medium, and Cowbird.
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