EcoMap & BCL of Texas: Supercharging the Lone Star State's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Learn how Business Community Lenders is helping Texas entrepreneurs to escape 'startup purgatory' and navigate a booming ecosystem to find direction, resources, and ultimately, success.

“EcoMap really serves as the front door to an ecosystem"

A Growing Ecosystem

With the population boom that Texas has been experiencing, it's no surprise that the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is also thriving. Since the end of the pandemic people from all over the country have been flocking to the Lone Star State in search of new opportunities, and this influx of talent and ambition has had a significant impact on the business landscape.

One organization that has been tasked with supporting this influx of new residents and entrepreneurs is Business Community Lenders (BCL) of Texas, an economic development organization with over 30 years of experience across a wide variety of disciplines including home ownership, entrepreneurship education, small business lending, and commercial lending.

Brian Marshall, Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business at BCL

We recently sat down with Brian Marshall, Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business at BCL, to discuss the work he and his team have been doing to support this growing community of entrepreneurs in Texas and how EcoMap has helped supercharge these efforts across Austin and San Marcos.

Meeting the Needs

It’s no secret that moving from the ideation stage to the validation stage is a critical and often challenging process for any entrepreneur.

“Ecosystems are active and complex”,  Brian explained, “and if you are on this first stage of starting out resources can be very, very difficult to find.”

Although Brian and the rest of the his team are primarily focused on helping companies that have already found their product-market fit scale and grow, he noticed an increasing number of companies stuck in what he calls “startup purgatory”.

“These are businesses that have no set direction or validation and are just going around and around like a hamster on a wheel”, Brian explained, “I've come across businesses that have been in startup purgatory for 5-10 years”.

In order to help these companies reach their full potential, Brian and his team began looking into solutions to better connect and align the small business ecosystems of San Marcos and Austin.

Enter EcoMap.

The Right Resources at the Right Time

EcoMap worked with BCL to develop the Austin Small Business Ecosystem and Resource Hub and the San Marcos ThinkB!G Platform.

Using EcoMap’s signature keyword tagging and data paradigm, entrepreneurs and small business owners across these ecosystems can quickly navigate through hundreds of resources and organizations to find those most relevant to the current needs and goals of their ventures.

“It’s the matching capability that EcoMap provides that’s critical”, Brian informed us.

This capacity saves entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them countless hours of scrolling through generic search results while trying to understand what exists around them.

Powerful filtering capabilities on the San Marcos ThinkB!G Platform

As these businesses continue to grow and scale, these entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support organizations can continue to return to the platform to find new opportunities and resources tailored to whichever stage of the journey they find themselves at.

A Front Door for Your Ecosystem

“EcoMap really serves as the front door to an ecosystem,” Brian remarked. “When I show people the activity within these ecosystems it’s hard to conceptualize it without an entry point”.

By centralizing the different resources that exist across San Marcos and Austin onto easy-to-use platforms, EcoMap has made it exceptionally simple for key stakeholders within these communities to engage with and showcase their ecosystems.

Austin Small Business Ecosystem and Resource Hub

Furthermore, EcoMap provides critical information that is needed to measure the health of an ecosystem. By analyzing the density and location of resources and organizations, stakeholders can gain a better understanding of the current landscape of the ecosystem, as well as any outstanding gaps that need to be addressed in order to maintain an inclusive and entrepreneur-friendly atmosphere.

Looking to the Future: Connecting Platforms for Amplified Impact

When Brian approached EcoMap, he made clear his ambition to help increase connectivity between the San Marcos and Austin ecosystems. Although they are their own separate entities, both ecosystems contain valuable resources that can and should be utilized by neighboring entrepreneurs.

By connecting the two, new procurement and contracting can arise for small businesses, and economic development initiatives can be strengthened through new partnerships and support channels. By fostering engagement and collaboration between different cities and platforms, EcoMap and the BCL team are striving to foster an interconnected and supportive environment for entrepreneurs across Texas to flourish.

Pride in the Work

After asking Brian to reflect on the work he’s done and share what he was proudest of, he took a moment to smile before responding, “helping business owners grow and build wealth through entrepreneurship”.

EcoMap is proud to support the important work that ecosystem builders like Brian are doing all across the country. We’re committed to equipping ecosystem builders with the tech they need to transform their communities into thriving entrepreneurial hubs and create a more accessible and inclusive future for small business owners.

If you and your organization are interested in creating a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and ESOs within your own ecosystem, please reach out below to start the conversation.

Eddie Micklovic

Chief of Staff