How Do You Measure an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?

How do you measure an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Before you ask yourself how you can measure entrepreneurship or even what you should measure, first ask yourself why.

Why do we even need to measure entrepreneurship?

The quick answer: so communities know what works, what to fund and where to focus.

Over the past several years, you’ve likely noticed an explosion of programs and initiatives aimed at increasing entrepreneurship—incubators, accelerators, proof-of-concept centers, tech transfer programs; startup weeks, startup weekends and other entrepreneurship-focused weeks; economic gardening, angel tax credits, equity crowdfunding; immersive training, mentoring programs—the list goes on.

But while there’s been a boom in ecosystem activity, there have been few metrics to measure their success. How many jobs are created by proof-of-concept centers? How many startups survive after their first Startup Weekend? How many patents come out of incubators? While we certainly can count them, what’s the benchmark? And are these things—jobs, starts, patents—even stats we should be measuring? In the long run, do these headline metrics add value and sustainability to entrepreneurial ecosystems?

During the Growing Entrepreneurial Communities Summit in Kansas City last May, we took these questions to three experts on measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, focuses on the economic developer prospective of researching how we know we are progressing by measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems. He measures four things: density, fluidity, connectivity and diversity.

Bill Sproull, CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce and former chairman of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s largest association for professional economic developers, takes both Dane and Maria’s measurement frameworks and applies the IEDC perspective.

Maria Meyers, director of the Innovation Center at University of Missouri-Kansas City and a founder of KCSourceLink and SourceLink, applies Dane’s concepts into a practitioner level by measuring network access, strength and reach.

By measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems, we can understand where entrepreneurs succeed, where they don’t and how we can remove the cultural, economic and institutional barriers that stand in their way.

Measuring jobs is only one metric in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and it only illustrates a very small part of the continuum and vibrancy necessary to build a sustainable economy.

How we connect entrepreneurs to resources; how we meet them where they are, geographically, emotionally and educationally, with the right resources at the right time; how we fill gaps in entrepreneurial ecosystem;  how we help entrepreneurs start companies, get access to capital and recruit talent; how we build and feed an innovation pipeline, how we tell the story of entrepreneurship in our communities and share the impact of our efforts with stakeholders—all of these are metrics help communities map their journey, gauge the odometer and fuel the strengths of their entrepreneurs and support organizations.

With the right data, tools and support a community can grow its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Does your community have the right measurement tools?

See how SourceLink helps communities measure their entrepreneurial efforts through our tools, resources and consulting.

●     Resource Navigator – Many Cities in the United States use this powerful tool to build a partner network and make unbiased referrals to entrepreneurs. With this, you are able to understand what your entrepreneurs need and then connect them to just-in-time resources

●    Business help websites and entrepreneur dashboards  – benchmark and track the metrics that matter to your community

●     SourceLink Pro CRM – Many organizations use SourceLink technologies to keep track of thousands of clients and millions of dollars in loans and contracts. Use this tool to make fact-based program decisions – and share your importance and impact with stakeholders.

Are you ready to activate and measure your entrepreneurial ecosystem?

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