The Memphis Ecosystem Pact


Memphis Ecosystem Pact

I am joining a growing tribe of innovators, entrepreneurs, and their supporters in a growing startup and innovation ecosystem that brings an economic vibrancy to Memphis, Tennessee that will last well beyond my lifetime.

The Memphis ecosystem consists of people who share a common faith in the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and the benefits it brings to our region.  While I am a mentor, investor, service provider, founder, innovator, donor, cheerleader, first customer, or other participant, I know that, regardless of my role, personal returns will only come from active collaboration and freely giving my ideas, my capital in all forms available, and my talents.

To enable the free flow and rapid assembly of ideas, capital, and talent for community and personal returns, participants in the ecosystem ascribe to a set of beliefs, values, and cultural norms.  These unwritten rules and beliefs will bring economic benefits to me and the community in the long run, but in the short term they defy rational economic thoughts of profit and personal benefit.  Like those that have come before me, I ascribe to these beliefs because I am motivated beyond personal gain.

As a part of this ecosystem, I believe and live out to the best of my abilities the following:

  • Honoring the dreams of others as well as my own.

  • Giving trust to others before expecting to receive trust in return.

  • Treating everyone fairly and not seeking advantage over others.

  • Bringing people together, as none of us is as smart as all of us.

  • Breaking the rules, experimenting, iterating, and learning.

  • Knowing that mistakes and failure are acceptable ways of testing new ideas.

  • Opening myself to learn from other participants, while also nurturing learning in others.

  • Being intellectually honest with myself and others, while understanding that others will be intellectually honest with me.

  • Increasing diversity and being inclusive to enhance the value all participants will gain from the ecosystem.

  • Meeting anyone in this community, listening deeply, and helping as I can.

  • Understanding that I will receive valuable help and resources from others at no cost and agreeing to “pay forward” whatever positive benefits I receive — for every risk someone takes with me, I will take a risk with a different person.

Ultimately, I believe that while it is important that I support the creation of a specific startup or innovation, it is even more important that I’m contributing to the greater ecosystem.  I understand that money is not a sufficient motivator for me or other ecosystem participants, because of the amount of sacrifice needed for success.  As a result, what motivates me is helping others succeed, making friends, the thrill of victory, the lifting of others after defeat, the spirit of debate, discovering the unknown together, building things better, solving challenging problems, as well as changing people’s lives — these are the true rewards for my sacrifice.

I will fail in my role at times, but I will persist for myself and for the ecosystem.  If there comes a point where I cannot advance my dream or the personal sacrifice becomes too large, I will continue to encourage others as they dream, while applying the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurship in the community.

Each person is a role model for everyone else.  I will live these beliefs out as a member of the Memphis ecosystem and show others the way through my actions.

Eric Mathews is CEO and Founder of Start Co. He can be reached at