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A Toast to ESOs

Thank you to the Entrepreneur Support Organizations for building a more inclusive and equitable innovation ecosystem for startups.


The mythology of many successful startups centers around brilliant founders and companies who emerged out of humble beginnings. From garages, basements, and home offices across the world, great businesses are established every day. As these startups grow and gain traction, the presence of a supportive community is often the difference between success and failure.

In every corner of the country, startups rely on the guidance of Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs), to help them navigate how to best use their time and resources. In cities and towns, both big and small, and even virtually, groups of mentors, investors, and founders have joined together to form startup communities - each fashioned in their own style, history, and culture.


Inclusive Communities Where Founders Can Plug In

These startup communities form the central nodes of networks that extend out across the globe and connect startups to capital, customers, and clout. Getting plugged into this network can be as simple as attending a meetup, joining a coworking space, or seeking advice from a local economic development group. As founders get connected with innovation ecosystems, both physical and virtual, they are often surprised at the generosity and sheer amount of resources that are made available to them.

As entrepreneurs invest time and energy into helping build shared communities, they are usually rewarded with the unwavering support of leaders and allies whose guidance is invaluable on their journey. There isn’t a startup out there that doesn’t benefit from a bench packed with fans, cheering on their wins, and supporting them through down times.

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An ESO for Founders + Ecosystem Builders

Over the past decade, the Startup of the Year® community has had the honor of partnering with ESOs of all shapes and sizes. Time and time again, we see that these organizations are led by teams of passionate people, looking to make a positive impact in their own neighborhoods. It has been our pleasure, Established® to learn alongside these leaders, as we have worked to improve access to resources - in light of the pandemic, as well as in an effort to provide more equitable access to founders, regardless of their community of origin.



As we look beyond the borders of our own communities, we see open collaborations between organizations resulting in new opportunities for greater shared resources. Events, awards, and promotions of companies are based on the merit of their businesses, as opposed to who they know. The more that we can see any startup win as a win for all of us, the more that we strengthen the ties of our global startup community. Reciprocity at its best.


Celebration of Thanks

As we begin looking towards the holiday season, and the new year, we hope you will join us and raise a toast to the heroes of the startup community. To all of the accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, investors, SBDCs, labs, economic development groups, Universities, Federal programs, investors, mentors, advisors, and community leaders, we salute you!


Written by: Shaw Lathrop, Creative Director, Established