Emerging Storytellers in the Ecosystem Builder Community

Jeff Bennett
Nov 18 · 6 min read

Storytelling is integral to the development of the field of ecosystem building. This was made evident at the kickoff session of the very first ESHIP Summit in 2017, when Victor Hwang told the attendees, “We’re gonna start to collect the stories and the case studies and the insights and the learnings you have out there and we’re going to create ways for you to share them better and better.”

The case was further solidified at the 2018 ESHIP Summit when attendees submitted initiative ideas for the seven ESHIP Goals on hundreds of index cards. Through analysis of these cards storytelling emerged as an overarching theme and priority.

As I’ve been monitoring the internet for stories and articles about entrepreneurial ecosystem building and aggregating and curating those for Ecosystem Builder Hub, I’m discovering new voices who are consistently creating and sharing content about ecosystem building, whether that be through written articles, podcasts, or videos. In addition to organizations like SourceLink and TechStars, which have been publishing great articles for years, here are four ecosystem builders who are consistently sharing insights and learnings about ecosystem building.

Emerging Storytellers in the Ecosystem Building Community

Yuval Yarden

I first met Yuval through her work at the Global Entrepreneurship Network and then through post-ESHIP 2018 community calls. On one of those calls in August 2018 I was excited to hear about her vision to create a podcast about ecosystem building. Creating and publishing a quality podcast takes a lot of preparation and planning so I was thrilled when Yuval’s vision became reality and she officially launched her podcast, The Keystone, this past summer.

Do you want to learn about creating access to capital for black and brown women through interactive pitch competitions? Or maybe you’d like to learn more about the growth of ecosystem building as a profession from the Kauffman Foundation’s Vice President of Entrepreneurship. From running accelerators, to exploring the challenges of rural ecosystem building, working with corporate partners, launching and growing the world’s largest Startup Week, to inclusion and diversity programs, and more, in 12 episodes to date, Yuval has amplified the voices and collective experience of rock star ecosystem builders and shared them with the world. The Keystone Podcast is a must-listen for any ecosystem builder.

The Keystone Podcast is available on a variety of platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and SoundCloud. You can also find the show notes on their Medium channel. Or if newsletters are your thing, sign up for their mailing list to get updates and announcements about The Keystone.

Anika Horn

If you have the opportunity to meet Anika Horn in person or participate on a Zoom call with her, you’ll sense a powerful passion and intellectual curiosity for ecosystem building. While her current work and her website Social Venturers are primarily focused on social impact ecosystem building, Anika has been ruminating and writing about ecosystem building for years on her Medium channel. Whether it’s a synopsis of ESHIP Summits or writing a heartfelt show of support for ecosystem builders, Anika’s writing is a valuable resource for ecosystem builders. Some of my favorites include:

Find Anika’s writing on her Social Venturers website and on her Medium channel.

Ashley Ray

Startup Champions Network (SCN) is an organization that provides builders of entrepreneurial ecosystems the connections, resources, and professional development they need to cultivate thriving and inclusive communities. While it has been around for many years, it’s currently positioning itself to be a top leader in the ecosystem building community. Part of that includes storytelling, and it has stepped up its game in recent months to share stories about ecosystem builders. The person behind all of that great content SCN is creating and sharing is Ashley Ray.

A content creator with her own boutique marketing company, Emergent Social Solutions, in Richmond, Virginia, Ashley, started as a writer for an agency in her hometown of Tampa, Florida. She’s now the creator of SCN’s Communication Strategy and the primary voice on all of SCN’s digital media platforms, including their website, Medium channel, newsletters, and all social media. Her writing has summarized SCN’s Summits and profiled ecosystem builders like Amy Gannon of the Doyenne Group in Madison, Wisconsin and Andrew Mathew in Richmond, Virginia. She also writes regularly about helpful resources such as organizations that help Black entrepreneurs.

Find Ashley’s writing on the SCN website and stay up to date with her latest by subscribing to SCN on Twitter.

Norris Krueger

If an academic, research-focused perspective on ecosystem building is your thing, Norris Krueger has you covered. Norris manages to keep moving the needle in research, education, and entrepreneurship with proven, recognized expertise in growing entrepreneurial thinkers and entrepreneurial communities. He brings a passion and focus on quantified metrics and methods to the field. He’s a leading expert on how entrepreneurs think and how we learn to think entrepreneurially, and he has deep experience developing and implementing ecosystem building programs. He also consistently shows up to lend his experience and expertise on many of the ESHIP Goal Meetups that the Kauffman Foundation organizes. Norris regularly posts articles about ecosystem building on LinkedIn. Some of my favorites include:

Find Norris’ writing on LinkedIn.

Voices We’d Like to Hear from More

While those listed above are publishing new content at least on a monthly basis, others are creating impactful articles and information that can benefit the community, but publish less frequently. Here are six ecosystem builders we’d like to hear from more often.

Dell Gines

Not all content needs to be written. Dell Gines’ short YouTube videos on ecosystem building are insightful and thought-provoking. Dell has also authored or co-authored several helpful guides around ecosystem building through his position at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, including; Black Women Business Startups and Grow Your Own,

Fay Horwitt

Fay Horwitt’s article, Moving Beyond Inclusion: An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder’s Imperative, is probably the most helpful information with the most tangible ideas that I’ve come across on inclusive ecosystem building.

Felicia Hatcher

Felicia Hatcher’s article, The Deficit Framing of Black Entrepreneurship in Foundations, Corporations and Media is a thought-provoking article that outlines an asset-based approach to how Black entrepreneurs have and can continue to contribute to the innovation economy.

Cecilia Wessinger

As the Community Activator for the Kauffman Foundation’s ESHIP program, Cecilia has a unique vantage point to see and hear what is happening in the ESHIP and ecosystem building communities. She has shared these insights in several articles on her Medium channel.

Tyler LeCompte

As a collaborator on the ESHIP Storytelling initiatives and Ecosystem Builder Hub, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tyler and watching him interview ecosystem builders. He has a great capacity to connect with others and asks great questions of ecosystem builders to mine nuggets of useful information. His interviews from the 2019 ESHIP Summit are some of the most visited posts on Ecosystem Builder Hub.

Ryan Lilly

Ryan Lilly is on a mission is to educate, engage, and inspire communities to grow their economies through innovation and entrepreneurship. He’s a prolific speaker on the subject and released a book this year, Ecosystem Hacking. In addition to his book, Ryan has penned some great articles on ecosystem building and shared on his Medium channel.

On behalf of ecosystem builders everywhere, thanks to all of these ecosystem builders for taking their valuable time to share insights, experiences, and thoughts about ecosystem building. We encourage them all to continue to contribute and we invite others to share their stories and experiences as well.


Read on for more insights on this ecosystem building topic:

Missed Connections: Know other voices that connect to this story? Link them in the comments!


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Jeff Bennett

Written by

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder | Cofounder & President of @SacStartup | Writer & Digital Media Content Creator


A connecting point for ecosystem builders, founders, and partners building stronger networks for entrepreneurs. | Powered by CO.STARTERS

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