Geoff's Blog: The Kauffman ESHIP Summit

Every Wednesday Geoff publishes "The Pull", a digest of the top news for the Iowa innovation community that week. The following is the introduction to Issue #206.

The Kauffman Foundation held their first ever ESHIP Summit last week in Kansas City, bringing together about 400 people from all over the world who had some familiarity with the term "entrepreneurial ecosystem". The idea was to get all these folks in one large room and work through some of the foundational elements of what is becoming a burgeoning industry: intentionally working to grow your community's ecosystem. Or as I usually refer to it "startup community building".

One thing that I've thought a lot about since the conference is the idea that ecosystem building doesn't usually come from people who are elected or really chosen for the position in any way. They're just people that recognized the need, jumped in to do something about it and have been willing to spend their time and resources to see it through. That was expressed on stage—or rather via Skype—from Boulder-based investor Brad Feld, the guy who literally wrote the book "Startup Communities" and kicked off a lot of this discussion in Iowa when he spoke at Thinc Iowa in Des Moines in 2012. That creates a lot of challenges but I think its a good thing and it parallels my experiences over the past 8 or so years of being involved in this type of work.

Iowa was well represented at the summit by at least 10 or so folks, mostly from the Central and Eastern parts of the state, including our own Andy Stoll who recently joined the team at Kauffman and chaired this event.

For more on the ESHIP Summit, check out this blog post from my friend Tom Chapman in Omaha or take a look at Jami Milne's beautiful photo project on Clay & Milk showcasing many of the faces of ecosystem building across the country.