Six ideas to kick-start an ecosystem

You have identified the new value that can be created by leading the development of your ecosystem,. But how do you get partners to join you? Partners will readily flock to an ecosystem that is successful; the benefits of joining it will be obvious. But when an ecosystem is in its infancy, its success in creating and capturing value is still unproven. The benefits of joining are uncertain and so your grand vision is likely to be spurned.

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Here are six ideas to kick-start an ecosystem:

1. Demonstrate that you really believe in the ecosystem

As an ecosystem leader you must ensure that your ambition to establish an ecosystem is credible. This may be difficult for large established companies with a track record of acquisitions and internal development it may be difficult to avoid that their intention to start an ecosystem looks like a disguised attempt to start up a traditional supply chain. But there are examples of established companies that have established their credibility and started a successful ecosystem.

2. Co-op foundation customers

Foundation customers are key to the successful start of an ecosystem. Such foundation customers are not necessarily the biggest or the most established partners. Instead the ecosystem leader needs to understand which capabilities are needed in the ecosystem and what are the characteristics of ideal foundation customers.

3. Develop and share an initial roadmap for the ecosystem

Potential partners need an initial roadmap of how the ecosystem will develop to encourage potential partners to engage and invest. Such a roadmap will evolve over time. But the ecosystem leader needs to provide some signposts to guide the partners on what role they can play in the ecosystem.

4. Communicate the value of joining

Potential partners will need to understand what is in it for them when joining the ecosystem. Therefore the ecosystem leader needs to articulate a set of value propositions that will entice partners. And there needs clarity on how the value will be shared. In this process the ecosystem leader needs to ensure that it has a keystone (Iansiti and Levin, 2004) to protect its own interests.

5. Shrink the entry barriers

Joining an ecosystem entails transaction costs for any partner joining. How does one reduce the costs and barriers that might impede partners joining the ecosystem?

6. Look for partners that can bring their own ecosystems

And an ecosystem can be greatly helped by partners who bring a sub-ecosystem along and so help speed up the growth of your ecosystem.

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Six ideas to kick-start an ecosystem

by EcosystemEdge