Erin Ouzts is creating a social network, but it’s not a smartphone app or new Silicon Valley startup.
Instead, she’s building a social network at its most basic definition: a group of people developing personal relationships with one another.
“Back in 2017, we realized local entrepreneurs didn’t know each other very well,” Ouzts said. “We figured if we did get to know one another, maybe we could refer each other to the right resources faster. So we started getting to know each other, and along the way we learned that was called technically an ‘entrepreneur ecosystem.’ Who knew?”
“We’re still a group of different organizations and individuals, but we work together for the goal of trying to learn how to do our jobs better, how we can help other entrepreneurs be more successful faster, and lastly how we can promote entrepreneurship in the region as another form of economic development.” – -Erin Ouzts, director, Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem
Jump ahead a few years, and now that social network has picked up a formal name, the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem, with Ouzts serving as its director. The ecosystem operates under the umbrella of Ten at the Top, the regional business connector, although Ouzts said they remain loosely formalized.
“We’re still a group of different organizations and individuals, but we work together for the goal of trying to learn how to do our jobs better, how we can help other entrepreneurs be more successful faster, and lastly how we can promote entrepreneurship in the region as another form of economic development.”
In the lead up to this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, the ecosystem and its affiliates came together for a virtual workshop presentation in September and a virtual workshop aimed at demystifying small business mentoring in October, with more quarterly workshops planned for the future.
Ouzts said the ultimate goal is to make it known far and wide among Upstate-based entrepreneurs that help is out there.
“Anything from accounting, to figuring out payroll, to balancing employees versus independent contractors; we’re here to connect them to the right people to get the answers they need and be more successful faster,” Ouzts said. “So a grand success for us would be never hearing someone say we don’t have any resources as entrepreneurs, because we have so much here.”