Networking the start-ups by Voilà:

After TDLC developed a framework to analyze and compare startup ecosystems, they contacted our team to visually communicate their findings. The main objective for these graphs was to create a visual portrait of Tokyo’s startup ecosystem in comparison to New York City’s startup ecosystem.

To characterize the two ecosystems, the client gathered data on many variables: the number of stakeholders, the type of stakeholders, their relative influence in the ecosystem, the number of connections between stakeholders, and the type of connection. Additionally, financing opportunities were described using data about the type of investing stakeholder (specialized or non-specialized) and the type of available financing (funds or services). Creating network graphs was the obvious choice to visualize these numerous and interconnected variables.

One of the first design opportunities we saw was that the original graphs produced by the client showed the two ecosystems as two equally sized networks. However, the data clearly showed that Tokyo’s network is much smaller. Our challenge was to resize the two networks to reflect their real size, while maintaining the stakeholder’s relative visual weight.

As network graphs can rapidly get overwhelming and visually saturated, the other main challenge was the creation of the categorial palette. Each and every color needs to be easily differentiated from the rest, while maintaining overall harmony. We picked bright, vivid colors in combination with a warm gray. The result is a dynamic yet elegant palette that provides great clarity to the graphics.

Figure 4.1 shows how effective network graphs are at conveying multiple insights in one image. For instance, we can observe:
1) The size difference of the two ecosystems shows that New York has many more individual stakeholders
2) The color palette shows the large amount of non-specialized funding stakeholders in Tokyo
3) The number of connections shows New York’s wide distribution of stakeholders, in comparison to Tokyo’s concentrated network.
4) The amount of larger circles in Tokyo’s ecosystem shows that few actors hold a lot of influence, hindering creativity and innovation in the ecosystem

We are particularly proud of this project as it shows the benefits of the collaboration between our graphic and information designers. The design reveals and brings clarity to the client’s complex message.