For the last few years, we've served as ecosystem builders for the Winston-Salem, NC entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem—aligning organizations and strategic needs, amplifying and creating messaging, accelerating the pace of change, and launching new programs to fill gaps.
We serve as a central organizing point for the Winston-Salem ecosystem to activate shared priorities, introduce new programs and prototypes, catalyze the ecosystem, and create more capacity.
The role of the entrepreneurial ecosystem builder is a developing job that has emerged because of the changing nature of our economy, shifting from a hierarchical commercial system to a more networked, hyper-connected technology-driven economy. We ecosystem builders are entrepreneurs who recognize the potential for growth in ability and agility within the system and set out to make it better. We realize, though, that the solution isn’t a single program like an accelerator, or a venture capital fund, or a mentoring program, but in fact the system itself. The interdependent parts of that system have the capacity and capability to work together, to be aligned and activated into collaboration in order to allow the system to better support entrepreneurs like us.
So how do we actually solve these systematic problems? As the ecosystem's agile developer, our three step approach is to listen and define, build, release and repeat. We provide research, insights and recommendations about the collective needs of the ecosystem's partners, then we activate those shared priorities through gaining stakeholder engagement, political will, funding and implementation. Finally, we run prototypes and measure and report their impact to understand next steps for these partners and the ecosystem as a whole. Agile City strives to be a living lab of experimentation to the ecosystems we serve; we model the behavior we're asking others to embrace by not being afraid to experiment, reallocate resources or fail, because we believe this is the benchmark to revolutionary innovation.