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More entrepreneurs can succeed if they are able to more freely collaborate. The last few decades have seen the emergence of platform business models that take a flatter, more inclusive, and innovation-centric approach to value creation. Platform-based strategies change the ways organizations conduct business by increasing openness and engaging more freely with external entities. Some of the world’s biggest companies, like Uber, Amazon, and Meta (formerly Facebook), were startup platforms that grew rapidly by orchestrating value-creating interaction among independent suppliers and users. Entrepreneurial firms typically lack resources and legitimacy, and their technological, organizational, and financial resources tend to be scattered and asymmetrically distributed; this prompts them to collaborate with other, often larger and better-resourced organizations that can give them access to customers and distribution. However, such alliances are not always easy to establish and govern due to size and cultural differences. In this context, the participation of entrepreneurial firms in digital platforms can be critical for survival - as these platforms can grant entrepreneurial firms much-needed exposure to customers and business partners. Examples of this include sellers whose products become highly successful on Amazon or Etsy, or fintech firms who join a digital bank’s platform to reach new users. There are also many instances of entrepreneurial firms establishing new platforms. Airbnb, Deliveroo, and PatientsLikeMe are examples of addressing a gap in a market by connecting seekers and providers of information, services, and products. Establishing and scaling up a platform is not easy, however. Entrepreneurs sometimes need large infusions of funding to help incentivize platform members to join - by giving cash to customers opening new accounts, for example, or giving smart phones to Uber drivers. The concept of “ecosystems” has also gained traction among academics and industry practitioners as a way to boost the odds of survival for entrepreneurial firms. These are groups of firms that (co-)create and capture value through collaboration thanks to their complementary natures. Ecosystems are common in industries like advertising and automotive, and can take hold and increase value in many contexts. For entrepreneurial firms, understanding the ways they complement other firms and joining (or creating) ecosystems accordingly may be crucial - because they can provide much-needed resources for research & development, marketing, and distribution through collaboration. Ultimately, platforms and ecosystems can enable more entrepreneurs to succeed - by facilitating a collaborative, rather than purely competitive, mindset.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Platforms

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Entrepreneurship Accelerated