By David Kraus

For the past two years, CO.STARTERS has had the privilege of collaborating with the Kauffman Foundation in the launch of the ESHIP Summit—a place for entrepreneurs, resource providers, and ecosystem builders to come together and share ideas, including the various resources they use to support their communities.

The first ESHIP gathering in 2017 quickly uncovered a huge need in the ecosystem building community—a way to formally connect community leaders and entrepreneurs with the best resources, especially when those resources exist outside their own networks. Since CO.STARTERS has been unofficially conducting this sort of “matchmaking” work since our inception (and recently working to do it more officially), the overlap between this pressing need at a national level and for CO.STARTERS created an amazing opportunity.

At the end of the 2017 Summit, CO.STARTERS was tasked with creating a “meta-resource” for the purpose of connecting ecosystem builders with the tools they need to help their communities thrive. We started with a central question: how do we spread knowledge of the valuable tools, platforms, funding sources, and services that already exist to the community leaders who would benefit from them?

Our first step was to talk with 50 national resource providers and work with the 2018 ESHIP Summit attendees to record hundreds of existing resources utilized by ecosystem builders.

This initial list is serving as the base for building the Ecosystem Building Marketplace, a platform to contextualize and optimize available resources for community leaders. More than a mere database or directory, the Marketplace will be organized with details and filters to provide more meaningful search results for both ecosystem builders and resource providers.

We recognize that this is a long-term project. As we move from discovery into design phase, we want to engage our community and let them begin reaping the benefits of the data immediately, not only when the platform is complete. In light of that, we are initiating a new offering that will help connect you with the information we have already gathered. Our new Community Matchmaking Service is launching now. If you’re interested in utilizing this new service, contact us through this form letting us know and we’ll be in touch with next steps.

In addition, we need your help! In an effort to build as inclusive a database possible, we are embarking on a Marketplace Roadshow, beginning with the InBIA e.Builders Summit in September.  If you want the CO.STARTERS team to stop at your network’s event, gather information on resources, and spread awareness of those resources by integrating them into the Marketplace platform, please contact us—we’ll add your event to the roster!

Your engagement with helping us test our matchmaking services and promoting the Marketplace Roadshow will be vital not only to this Marketplace project, but also to our largest aim: discovering and developing the best support for entrepreneurs and community leaders around the world.