Startup Champions Network Announces Collaboration with Kauffman Foundation

National ecosystem-building network brings semi-annual summit to overlap with Denver Startup Week

The Startup Champions Network (SCN) – an organization aimed at connecting "ecosystem builders" – announced a collaboration Wednesday, Sept. 26 with Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. With the undisclosed grant award, SCN will engage its network to professionalize efforts and create long-lasting economic viability and strength by supporting entrepreneurs nationally.

"In the U.S., we have seen a rise in startup and innovation activity outside of typical epicenters like Silicon Valley and on the East Coast," says Larkin Garbee, interim executive director of SCN. "These developments are a direct result of the work of entrepreneurial builders who are driving economic outcomes by creating local and regional initiatives that support and grow new businesses." 

Now, the Kauffman Foundation partnership will support SCN's intention to share values and expand programs and strategies that encourage strong community. Assistance and perspective from the Kauffman Foundation enables the Startup Champions Network to strengthen its organizational structure and deepen roots in communities of practice.

"With their micro-level access to ecosystem builders across the country and our focus on empowering communities to scale the entrepreneurial spirit in their communities, we look forward to working with SCN and learning from their knowledge and experience in this space while also helping them become a formalized and even more effective ecosystem support organization," says Philip Gaskin, director of entrepreneurial communities at the Kauffman Foundation.

Primary efforts for SCN include developing support structures to equip and empower ecosystems and providing funding to grow these pockets throughout the country as hubs for entrepreneurs thrive.

"As the guiding light for activation of the entrepreneurial spirit for more than 50 years, the Kauffman Foundation has become a trusted partner in support of the SCN mission, visions and values," Garbee says. 

Piggybacking on Denver Startup Week, SCN convened nearly 100 ecosystem builders for one of its two annual summits, and is "running the official Ecosystem Building Track during DSW, while also continuing a deep-dive on inclusivity and diversity," Garbee says.

At the summit, speakers included Scott Case, founding chief technology officer of Priceline and CTO of Startup America, as well as Marc Nager, managing director at Telluride Venture Accelerator, co-founder of Startup Weekend and former CEO of Up Global, among others.

"This is my first year attending the Startup Champions Network, and it's been amazing," says Brian WatsonProximity co-founder and member of SCN. "I've never been surrounded by so many individuals dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and communities thrive. The efforts and energy taking place during SCN and Denver Startup Week clearly demonstrate why we've seen such tremendous entrepreneurial growth in Colorado." 

SCN was developed under the Startup America Partnership – another initiative of the Kauffman Foundation alongside the Case Foundation and the White House office of Science and Technology Policy, launched in 2011. Several participants saw the need for an organization that developed and supported professional ecosystem builders throughout the country, connecting people, resources and events. 

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