The Benefits of Mapping Your Startup & Innovation Ecosystem

Jeff Bennett
Ecosystem Builder Hub
5 min readDec 1, 2018

“Entrepreneurial ecosystems thrive when people and resources are connected and working together to develop new approaches and solutions for serving entrepreneurs.”

That quote, from the Kauffman Foundation’s eShip Summit website, represents one of many core elements needed for startup ecosystems to thrive. But what is also important is that the players in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, whether that’s the entrepreneurs or those who support them, are able to find the knowledge and resources that are available. As a cofounder of an entrepreneurial support organization, StartupSac, I’ve learned firsthand how valuable it is for the ecosystem to map out the resources in a visual representation that provides everyone with an overview or the lay of the land, so to speak.

A subway map representation of the Sacramento startup ecosystem

In October 2015 I launched the StartupSac website, which included lists of available resources in the Sacramento startup community like funders, coworking spaces, accelerators, etc. I tried various lists and spreadsheets to document it all but still struggled with getting a good mental picture of our ecosystem. So, I started doodling and sketching to come up with a way to represent it visually.

It was while doodling out ideas one day that I remembered a diagram I’d seen years earlier, where somebody had mapped out the Internet using the Tokyo metro subway map as a guide. That was the moment when the idea for the Sacramento Startup Ecosystem Subway Map was born.

Over the course of a several weeks, I built the first version of it in Adobe Illustrator and incorporated interactivity with some basic Javascript, and released the first version of the map.The most recent published version of the diagram can be seen here: Sacramento Startup and Innovation Ecosystem Diagram.

Initially, I created the map as a resource for myself and I had no idea that it and its subsequent versions would get the response they have. But over the years, I have been told countless times how valuable this map has been for people to understand our local startup community. It’s also received praise from people outside of our community.

“I was blown away… this is the best single place where I’ve found documentation for an ecosystem.” ~ Rick Rasmussen, Director of Startup…

Jeff Bennett
Ecosystem Builder Hub

Exploring ideas, innovations, and technologies to adapt faster and better in a world of accelerating change.