The Challenge of Startup Community Building.

Finding the elusive business model for long term sustainability.

Joe Maruschak
9 min readNov 11, 2021


A while ago, I wrote an article which was essentially the easiest way for me to send out a message to all of the people I have interacted with in Eugene in order to say goodbye.

It triggered a series of interactions in the twitter-verse that unlocked a flood or pent up frustration on the part of people doing similar work all over the united states on the general un-sustainability of the work.

The collection of comments all were consolidated here, in Jeff Bennett’s great article Who Will Save the Ecosystem Builders? that you should read to get some of the background.

Much of this pent up frustration seems to stem from the general belief that while everyone has to some extent acknowledged that entrepreneurship is vital to the stability of our economy, we collectively have not figured out how to support entrepreneurship in any meaningful systematic way.

I think that many of us are just frustrated and somewhat confused. If it is so important, why are we in the situation we are in?

In this article, I am going to try to unpack some of my thoughts a bit, possibly just to help give myself some clarity around how we got to where we are today. Some of this will require me going back down memory lane a bit to give some background of how I got into this work, and how the view of this work was evolving in real time nationwide alongside my efforts locally, and in partnership (and by partnership, it was more like a loose collection of renegades) with others in the state.

I will try to tease apart some of the language that is being used to describe the work, and in doing so, both educate some that are not deep into this work what it actually is, and to untangle what I think is one of the major problems with this work. The terminology clarification is crucial, as in SO many of these conversations, we are using language to talk about something where we think we are talking about the same thing, when we are actually not.

I started doing startup community building by accident. I did not intend to become a ‘community builder’ or ‘ecosystem builder’ — and when I started doing it I was…



Joe Maruschak

Entrepreneur and Investor with a background in games Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL). Follow me on Twitter!