UPDATE: We have made progress in our research, that led to a new product, LAB. 

With LAB we are now able to measure more accurately how efficient a network of a startup is and how close is to the core of a given ecosystem. To find out more about LAB, please read HERE.

In a start-upper’s life, enthusiasm and passion alone are not enough. In order to properly exploit the few resources available, an accurate planning is in order.

Sharing ideas and experiences is a good strategy to reduce the risks during the start-up phase, and that is why networking is critical to get the company known to investors, customers and potential partners.

However, a very little time is usually dedicated to this activity; for that reason, it is very difficult to find new opportunities. To participate to acceleration and incubation programs is just a partial solution because it can work just for a while and only within the incubator space.

It would be ideal if the startup could use data-driven tools that allow to strategically manage the actions to take and the contacts to establish.


Is it possible to scientifically analyse our own networking behaviour?

Let us fancy two different start-up CEOs during a networking event, both aiming to extend their social network and looking for new opportunities. The diagram below shows the two CEOs’ different shares of network.

The CEOs’ pre-existing networks are shown in sky-blue, while the new contacts established during the event are shown in red.

WCAP-articolo-blog

Which networking strategy has been more effective?

It can be noted that CEO1’s new connections don’t get to expand the network because the informations, ideas and knowledges they provide could be indirectly collected from the already existing contacts as well.

This kind of behaviour is not surprising: we are naturally prone to relate ourselves to people we have something in common with. Alas, in that way CEO1 further reduces his/her social network, precluding himself from the possibility to access to new resources, skills and informations.

Startup Network measures this redundancy through the Effective Links Index, marked as L in the caption. The ELI allows to make a quantitative assessment of the new contact’s potential for expanding our social network.

While CEO1’s L value has decreased, the CEO2’s one has stepped up. That is because his/her new contacts did not have previous relations with the existing network. Hence, CEO2 has more chances to access to new ideas and opportunities. On the contrary, CEO1’s new connections can be defined as “redundant” and his/her networking activity had turned out to be, ultimately, a waste of time and resources.

But actually, networks are not all the same

The example given shows how a scientific approach to network building is critical. Of course, real networks are way more complex than this: what if the network is similar to the following diagram?

Rete Mario Scuderi

In real life, every network has its own peculiarities and features which reflect a person’s traits and, consequently, every network is unique. Besides, every member in the startup community has his/her own goal which varies as the case may be.  For instance, the strategy to find new developers will be obviously different from the one to find new investors.

It is just because this variety of goals and needs that Startup Network takes further factors into account besides the Effective Links Index. Other key measures are, for instance, the contacts’ geographical variety and the cohesion of the social network, This has been made possible by the study of a remarkable quantity of data that everyone of us generates every day while using the social networks. These informations are analysed by Startup Network after the recents studies in time-varying complex networks analysis.

This kind of analysis it is not so different from other forms of self-monitoring such as those fitness devices that collect data on the physical activity and provide the user with informations to better plan his/her own training.

Your startup is just like an athlete who is trying to reach his/her own goal through a continuous and well-planned training program. Startup Network is the device that collects and processes the data helping the entrepreneurs to scientifically approach to network activities and access to new informations and opportunities.

Sign up for free on Startup Network to monitor the performances of your social network and improve your networking activities.