Anthemis Ecosystem Development: 6 Months In

One of the things that we’re doing with Anthemis Institute and the Fellowship is working on how we can contribute to improving the existing ecosystem. The aspiring entrepreneur today, that wakes up one day and says, “I’d like to do this,” has a much, much richer, environment and ecosystem to wade into, whether that’s capital or learning or talent. — Sean Park

When we announced the creation of our Ecosystem Development team back in June this year, I received heartfelt congratulations from many people I know. Many of them then followed with, “…and so what is Ecosystem Development exactly???”

I claim no creative genius for coming up with the idea of formalizing an Ecosystem team. That honor resides with the Founders of Anthemis, who, in their original plans for the company, conceived of the business as a key node in a network of brilliant like-minded individuals and companies who share a vision of the future of financial services.

If you were to survey founders of our portfolio companies, senior leaders of our advisory clients, our investors, and others we touch, many will tell you relationships built and cultivated through affiliation with Anthemis over the past six-plus years is one of the things they value most about our company. So if the web of relationships already exists, and works, why then did we choose to formalize it?

Because at Anthemis, we fundamentally believe that the power of our Ecosystem will define our future success.

The Anthemis Ecosystem Visualisation

As I launched and grew Anthemis talent offering over the past few years, it soon became clear to me that our already-powerful Ecosystem could be thoughtfully grown, curated and optimized, to the mutual benefit of all those within it. The core skill set of our talent team involves working with clients to identify and close organizational gaps. It was a natural extension of Anthemis Talent’s work to move beyond the realm of recruiting to apply those same processes and methodologies to our Ecosystem.

Today, the Anthemis Ecosystem Development team actively identifies gaps in our network that either create risk to it, or that result in missed opportunities for participants. We then proactively extend our Ecosystem through an ongoing and relentless focus on bringing the world’s best companies and people into it.

Growing the Anthemis Ecosystem has never been about volume or scale but about highly targeted outreach to like-minded people who share our values and a passion for re-inventing finance. Whether that means convening events like our Hacking Finance Breakfast Series and annual retreat in Meribel, France or providing one-on-one counsel and connections founders or incumbent execs around the world, Ecosystem Development is on the case.

Meribel 2016

In a subtle but important way, questions like “what is Ecosystem Development exactly???” give me comfort that we are on to something — perhaps not as ground-breaking as intergalactic travel, but certainly something that is unfamiliar, and even uncomfortable, to some. Veterans of the traditional financial services world seem to have a hard time fathoming that goliaths and hierarchies may no longer be the default winners.

If you remain skeptical about the power of networks, or their increasing impact on the future of work, I suggest you explore the writing of Esko Kilpi or Stowe Boyd. Alternatively, take a look at how few people are employed by companies such as Berkshire Hathaway and yet the vast impact they have across their ecosystem, executed with of a philosophy of no control.

But for those of you who are reading this, resonate with it, and who aren’t already a part of it, I hope to hear from you.

Gavin Holland is Partner and Head of Ecosystem Development at Anthemis, investors and advisors in digitally native financial services. You can reach Gavin’s team at ecosystemteam@Anthemis.com.