Startup Support Ecosystems

Building a Conscious VC Fund

In my attempt to understand the overall startup ecosystem, I thought of summarising my thoughts on how I see startup support ecosystems, or as some call ESOs - entrepreneur support organizations. There are five specific kinds of startup support ecosystem exists: 

What do these startup support ecosystems (existing) offer apart from the capital? 

  • Recruiting

  • Outsourced Financial Services - especially for tech startups

  • Service Providers - PR firms, legal firms, SEO firms - it takes a lot of money in advance - late-stage VCs do that

  • Templates of how to build your company

Types of Startup Support ecosystems:

  • Theme-based: Theme or sector-focused ones are generally started by experts in those fields with deep knowledge and expertise. The theme can be a particular business model focus like B2B or B2C or B2G or C2C, or it can be sector focus like Agriculture, Education, Consumer Tech, Lifestyle, Media, etc. or it can even be AI focus, Deep tech focus, Computer Vision focused, etc. Generally, theme-based startup ecosystems are small micro funds or minor in size in terms of total capital size.

  • Sector/ Theme Agnostic: Most of these ecosystems have some focus areas, but they generally invest/support across sectors and different business model types. All the significant startup support ecosystems are mostly sector agnostic, as their investors like to invest in a diversified pot rather than focused areas. 

Who are the investors of startup support ecosystems? 

  • Philanthropists and CSRs to do good and to give back to the entrepreneurial community 

  • Professional investors, investing in this asset class. E.g., family offices, HNIs, or HNWs. 

  • Corporate VC and Corporate Innovation - most of the time for strategic reasons - e.g., Touchdown Ventures, which provides CVC as a service to corporates.

Key Insights: 

  • Considering the whole startup support ecosystems, most of them have focused on technology ventures (whether accelerators, incubators, venture studios, or early-stage VCs). 

  • Theme-based startup ecosystems are smaller than Sector/ Theme agnostic. However, they are catching up a lot of attention as theme-based startup ecosystems develop deep expertise and knowledge. 

  • Recently, there has been a lot of activity in the corporate VC and innovation space.

  • There is a considerable rise in venture studio funds, and many LPs are looking to invest in them, especially in mature markets like the USA and Europe.

  • Last but not least, to build a thriving theme-focused startup support ecosystem, it needs to build its reputation and thought leadership. E.g., Publishing a playbook and blueprint on how to build an impact-tech venture.

Curated Resources for further curiosity

  1. [Blog] Startup Studios and More

  2. [Website] Global Accelerator Network

  3. [Directory] Compiled Global Accelerator data

  4. [Blog] Venture Capital: Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated

  5. [Report] The Emerging Role of Venture Builders in Early-Stage Venture Funding

  6. [Blog] Do VCs really add value? — Founders say sometimes

  7. [Blog] Why do VC firms become Platforms? (or why a16z is successful)

  8. [Blog] Corporate Venture Capital: The Devil...or an Innovative Growth Channel?

  9. [Research paper] The Lower-Risk Startup: How Venture Capitalists Increase the Odds of Startup Success

I am continuously looking for first-time fund managers looking to create their first-time impact funds with an edge or a differentiated value proposition in emerging economies. If you are building one, please do write to me. I would love to learn more from you and would be happy to help in any way.

With Love,


"first followers" is founded by Sagar Tandon. You can reach out to me at

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