Building a successful startup community: Strengthening the startup ecosystem through collaboratio

The community is much more than a mere gathering of people in one place. It is a group of individuals who share common values, interests, or activities and are interconnected in any way. Community members have a sense of belonging and importance, along with a shared belief that the needs of all members will be met through their commitment to being together. Such a community culture can become a way of life and values that are common to all members, as seen in our example of entrepreneurial values.


But how can this idea of community aid in the creation of a successful startup ecosystem?


Building a successful startup community has a significant impact on the development of a robust startup ecosystem. In this article, we will explore the importance of collaboration and community building in creating a successful startup ecosystem. We will examine how the exchange of experiences, resources, and ideas can help strengthen startups and the entire community, and what trends we can expect in the coming years.


Here are some interesting statistics related to the startup community:


  • 82% of startups participate in some form of community program or initiative that assists them in business development and problem-solving (Startup Genome, 2021).
  • 59% of community managers work outside of regular hours to care for the community (Community Industry Trends Report, 2019).
  • 75% of community managers believe that engaged members are crucial to the success of their community (State of the Community Management Report, 2020).
  • The most common formats for startup events are meetups at 50%, followed by conferences (27%), workshops (9%), hackathons (7%), and competitions (7%) (Startup Genome, 2020).
  • The most popular technologies in startup communities are software services at 22%, followed by e-commerce (9%), fintech (8%), AI (7%), and healthcare (6%) (Startup Genome, 2020).

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How do individuals connect with the community?

In the startup world, building strong relationships within the community is key to long-term success. One theory that can provide insight into the process of identifying and connecting with a group is the Social Identity Cycle theory. According to it, individuals identify with a group through three phases:


  1. Identification: The person identifies with the community and is attracted to the social identity of the group.
  2. Participation: The person takes some action to participate in the community experience.
  3. Validation: Participation is rewarded, making the person feel good about their involvement and strengthening their sense of shared identity.


This theory can be useful for building relationships within the startup community, as identification with the group can be used to create a sense of togetherness and connection among members. Participation in the community and working on collaborative projects can foster a sense of belonging and strengthen bonds among members. Validation through appropriate rewards and recognition for contributions to the community can help maintain and strengthen a sense of belonging and motivation for further participation in the community.


Building relationships in the startup ecosystem

The startup community can be extremely important for individuals involved in entrepreneurship or considering starting their own business. Here are a few reasons why:


  1. Connecting with Other Entrepreneurs: Membership in the community provides an opportunity to connect with people who share similar interests, values, and goals. This can be useful for exchanging ideas, receiving feedback, and creating new business opportunities.


  1. Support and Mentorship: Many startup communities offer support and mentorship programs for entrepreneurs at various stages of business. This may include advice on growth strategies, mentorship for skill development, and access to resources such as investors or business partners.


  1. Access to Resources: Startup communities often have connections with investors, business angels, and other sources of funding, which can be beneficial for entrepreneurs seeking capital for the growth of their business ideas. Additionally, communities can provide access to other resources such as coworking spaces, free tools and resources, or interesting lectures, programs, and projects.


  1. Learning Opportunities: Many startup communities offer educational programs and events to help entrepreneurs develop their skills and knowledge. This may include workshops, pre-incubation and incubation programs, or lectures and presentations from successful entrepreneurs.


By engaging with other stakeholders in the ecosystem, founders can build trust and relationships, leading to opportunities for collaboration and growth. Collaboration is crucial in the startup ecosystem as it allows founders to access resources and expertise they may not have on their own. By collaborating with other stakeholders in the ecosystem, founders can access these resources and accelerate their growth.

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Examples of community types based on objectives


Various types of communities can be established depending on the goal one aims to achieve. Each type of community has its characteristics, goals, and ways in which they connect and interact. Some types of communities that can be established include:


  • User Communities: User communities bring together people who use a specific product or service. These communities are essential as they allow users to exchange tips and tricks, provide feedback to the company, and find a community of people who share similar experiences. An excellent example is the Figma community, which gathers users to share tips, tricks, and resources and inspire each other to create new and better projects. By building a strong community of designers, Figma has managed to create a loyal fan base and stimulate organic growth.


  • Expert Communities: Expert communities gather individuals who share the same profession or field of work. These communities aim to encourage the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and best practices. They are crucial as experts can find mentors, collaborators, and business partners, enhancing their knowledge and skills. An example is the ICT County project initiated by Split-Dalmatia County, aiming to promote the development of the ICT sector and the digital transformation of the county through the strengthening of the startup community.


  • Entrepreneur Communities: Entrepreneur communities bring together founders of startups in the early stages of their business and assist them in developing their projects. These communities are important as they help in finding mentors, investors, collaboration partners, and resources needed for the growth and development of their businesses. Smion (ex Lean Startup Hrvatska) gathers startup founders for the exchange of experiences, support, and networking with other entrepreneurs and investors at TeamUp events. Through TeamUp, many new acquaintances, business partnerships, and friendships have emerged, assisting entrepreneurs in building relationships and developing their businesses. Follow our social media networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram not to miss upcoming gatherings!


  • Social Impact Communities: Social impact communities gather individuals to achieve societal changes. These communities can focus on various topics such as the environment, human rights, healthcare, and more. The goal of these communities is to empower individuals to collectively work towards common objectives. An example of such a community is the Green Energy Cooperative. The mission of the GEC is to create a community to assist citizens in the development, investment, and use of renewable energy sources, aiming to achieve real changes in the development of the energy sector.



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Challenges and emerging trends in the community building industry

The community building industry encompasses a wide range of activities and sectors, making it challenging to assess its exact size. For example, according to some estimates, the global market value of community management software was around $1 billion in 2020, with a projected annual growth rate of about 20% between 2020 and 2025.


When it comes to community issues, there are some challenges that companies and organizations involved in community building and maintenance face. Some of these problems include:


  1. Lack of Engagement and Interaction Among Community Members: If community members are not actively participating, it can lead to weaker connections, less impact, and reduced community success.
  2. Lack of Focus and Direction: If the community lacks clearly defined goals, values, and guidelines, it can result in inconsistency and lack of coherence in community work.
  3. Lack of Resources and Support: Successful community building requires resources such as money, time, and human resources. The lack of these resources can make community work challenging and hinder the achievement of goals.
  4. Lack of Diversity: If the community lacks diversity in terms of its members, ideas, and perspectives, it can lead to limited impact and a poorer understanding of the community’s needs and issues.


As the community-building industry evolves, some trends are expected to help address these challenges. For example, a greater focus on establishing clear guidelines and policies for community work can help ensure focus and clarity. Additionally, larger budgets and increased focus on community member engagement can help address the issues of resource and engagement lack. Finally, trends such as the establishment of smaller, more exclusive communities with limited membership and decentralization can help address the lack of diversity and member engagement issues.


By keeping up with these community-building trends, companies can ensure that their community programs are relevant, effective, and well-positioned for future success.


How to get involved in the startup community?


If you are an entrepreneur looking to build your network and develop your startup, consider attending community events and joining networks relevant to your industry. Participate in accelerator and incubator programs, seek mentorship and support from experienced investors, and connect with policymakers working to support the growth of your ecosystem.


Follow our social media networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to stay informed about upcoming opportunities and projects and get involved in our programs, projects, competitions, workshops, lectures, and various other events.


If you want to be part of the world of change and have the desire and ambition to help create and sustain new ideas in our market, reach out to us.


P.S. We send more entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and opportunities in our Innovation Bento Box and our newsletters’ verticals, which you can sign up for here.


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