One trait that determines success of your entrepreneurial ecosystem

pay it forwardThough most everyone agrees on what the basic components of an entrepreneurial ecosystem are, it is a myth that simply having those components will result in game-changing innovation.

For example, think about Silicon Valley, the use case for all innovation ecosystems; why and how does it sustain innovation? Sure, culture is one component. But, what distinct behaviors drive that? I believe the most important one is a “paying it forward” attitude.

Steve Blank on Silicon Valley’s culture:

Foreign visitors to Silicon Valley continually mention how willing we are to help, network and connect strangers.  We take it so for granted we never even to bother to talk about it.  It’s the “Pay-It-Forward” culture.

How often do you see this in non-inovative ecosystems?

Very rarely.

For example, the entrepreneurial culture in not one of paying it forward, people here in Tijuana mostly care about what they can get for themselves. It’s not about amplifying others, it’s about getting my way first and second.

Is that conducive to opening doors and connecting you to people that can help you get things done?

Absolutely not.

In practical terms, what does Paying it Forward look like? Steve Blank continues on what a Pay it forward culture looks like:

  • Entrepreneurs in successful clusters build support networks outside of existing companies
  • These networks can be around any area of interest (technology, ethnic groups, etc.)
  • These were mutually beneficial –  you learned and contributed to help others
  • Over time experienced executives “pay-back” the help they got by mentoring others
  • The Pay-It-Forward culture makes the ecosystem smarter

Bottom line: An entrepreneurial ecosystem might have funding, talent, diversity and infrastructure, but it isn’t enough if the right attitude doesn’t exists. You are successful in life if you pass the ball—you win by amplifying others.