One of my highlighted the strength of an ecosystem compared to a linear system: the enormous amount of possible connections and transactions which can be performed! It also touched upon on one of the necessities to perform these transactions: there needs to be trust in the ecosystem.

Why is trust so important in a startup ecosystem? For an answer to this question we need to do some one on one bartering, and this is explained in a very clear way in “the Rainforest”, by Hwang and Horowitt. Let me summarize it below:

Coffee and cookies

Let’s say you have a cup…


Startup programs are just like startups. Some of it you can learn by doing, and some you need to have thought of before you start. Below are a few questions to trigger this thought process, taken from several books and blogs I’ve read along the way.

Before you even start thinking about a program

What is your goal or mission?

What are you trying to achieve with the program? And if your goal is clear, perhaps ask yourself if a program is the best way to reach that goal. Are you trying to create successful startups, trying to prevent bankruptcies, creating an investment funnel or just prototyping tech…


Whenever I talk with people about startup ecosystems it’s usually a matter of time before they ask the “why” question: Why do we need an ecosystem in the first place? Are all the other support systems (incubators, accelerators, VCs, regional development offices, etc) not working totally fine? And yes, a lot of support systems are working fine, but while writing these series and talking to a lot of people, there are a number of trends which keep “popping up” in the conversations, and which, in my opinion, point towards an ecosystem. …


This week the European Commission announced the first round of direct equity investment through the new European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund. 42 start-ups and SMEs will together receive equity financing of around €178 million. Read the press release .

At the same time wrote an article that this same EIC fund “ has actually left some of them (the startups) on the verge of bankruptcy”. You can find that one .

Is money going to the right startups?

I’m torn between two sides. I’ve seen for myself that hardware startups (in non-traditional industries) can have a hard time finding funding. …


I’ve been reading “ ”, written by Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt and there are a few images which boil down the essence of an ecosystem and which keep hunting my mind. I’d like to share them with you, with the hopes the hunting will stop when I write about it ;)

Let me start with showing a traditional approach of a technology transfer office, an incubator, an accelerator or any other startup support organization:


I recently posted and I wrote about how we have a survival-rate bias in the startup industry because bankruptcy (or survival) is so easy to define, and we have such a hard time to define success. Just google “ ” and see what happens. Instead of startup success, you will find the % of startup failures.

We tend to talk about bankruptcy, survival and success as being on the same spectrum (I did as well in the article above, see the image below).


In ecosystems, success is a hydra. A many-headed beast. There are as many definitions of success as there are actors and problem definitions in the ecosystem. As you know by now this can be quite a hassle as a mature ecosystem contains a lot of actors.

Why create a startup ecosystem in the first place? Why not just run 4393 programs or hire 432 coaches to do their work? The idea behind the ecosystem is not so much to help individual startups as to create a certain culture. …


What’s a (startup) ecosystem?

I ended on the ideal startup support system with the answer to the question of the ideal startup system: it should be an ecosystem. I’ll use this article to explain what an ecosystem actually is and how it works, but let me start with recapping why an ecosystem is the solution: Because a startup is an ever changing entity it is very hard to support the startup with a fixed structure as a program for longer periods of time. This also counts for mentors and even for VCs. They all have their expiration date. The moment when…


“If you’re at this early stage it is impossible to have selection criteria, and it is just as impossible to track the development of startups over time, as they have no revenue, no sales, and no funding yet. What we’re doing is unique, you need to have a gut feeling, only developed over decades of years in this industry”.

I hear this a lot when I talk with people who select and coach early stage startups (and with early, I mean really early: just two people thinking about the idea) and when I ask them how they select the startups…


from Eva de Mol made me think about the graph below which I presented a lot during my first months at YES!Delft when I trained teams. The chart comes from CB Insights and you can find it . It shows the top 20 reasons startups fail. It is hard to point your finger at one reason your startup failed, and that’s why CB Insights did a post-mortem analysis on 101 startups. …

Robert Jan van Vugt

Startups, scale-ups, accelerators, incubators, business builders, venture growers & ecosystems. Dutchie living in Sweden.

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