Find Your Entrepreneurial Community at the ESHIP Summit

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Find Your Entrepreneurial Community at the ESHIP Summit

Although entrepreneurial business growth hasn’t yet reached the explosive levels experienced during the 1980s and 1990s, it’s been on the rise in recent years. More good news? The rate of startup growth increased to 75.6 percent in 2017, which means startups are growing faster in their first five years than they did in the past, according to the 2017 Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship.

Yet despite that continued growth, being an enterpreneur can be isolating — even, at times, downright lonely. That’s why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to find their community. And there’s no better place to do it than at this year’s ESHIP Summit.


The ESHIP Summit, which launched in 2017, is a three-year initiative that’s “designed to bring together builders of entrepreneurial ecosystems. That way, we can collaboratively create tools, resources and knowledge to better support communities that empower makers, doers and dreamers,” according to the event website.

This sort of community-building — much like entrepreneurship itself — is an ongoing process. Yet the initiative culminates each year around the summit, an immersive, three-day event that gives attendees invaluable opportunities to explore, share and, most importantly, connect.

This year’s summit is particularly exciting because it’s the second one. During the 2017 ESHIP Summit, we kicked off a phase of discovery that included the identification of seven key insights.

In a matter of days, the 2018 ESHIP Summit will build on that foundation of discovery and begin a new phase: design. The plan: to “collectively deveop and test sustainable and scalable solutions to the most important needs in our ecosystems and across the ecosystem-building field.”

The importance of the work that happens during the ESHIP Summit can’t be understated. Yet the ability for entrepreneurs to attend events like these to find and build their communities is just as important, both for short- and long-term success.


As an entrepreneur, you can look at community two ways. There’s your community or network — the people who support you, motivate you and provide invaluable help like referrals and feedback.

Then there’s the local entrepreneurship community. It’s more vibrant in some cities than others. Take the Kauffman Foundation’s home base of Kansas City, for example. The city (and larger metro area) is home to a thriving entrepreneurial community that’s fueled by technology-driven initiatives like the first municipal installation of Google Fiber.

As a result of that community, entrepreneurs have access to an incredible array of resources including programming like 1 Million Cups, financial assistance through grant programs like Launch KC, and general knowledge and tools produced by the Kauffman Foundation, including free online classes to help entrepreneurs start their businesses.

You see, an entrepreneurial community is about so much more than networking and building those personal connections. Don’t get us wrong — those are invaluable. But it’s equally important to do what you can to foster entrepreneurship in your community. Not only will that attract more entrepreneurs; it will also give those entrepreneurs more tools, more support and more leverage to ensure they have what they need to succeed.

Here’s a quick homework assignment. Do a quick Google search to see what entrepreneurial resources are available in your area and see if you can get a handle on what sort of entrepreneurial community exists. Then, keep an eye out for opportunities to improve that community. Even if you can’t attend this year’s ESHIP Summit, you can still be a part of the community-building process. One easy way is to sign up for the ESHIP Summit newsletter so you can be in the loop.

They say there’s “strength in numbers,” and that’s never more true than with entrepreneurs. If entrepreneurs can individually launch businesses, just imagine what we can accomplish when we’re all working together.