Scott Resnick, StartingBlock Madison’s former executive director and current entrepreneur-in-residence, says ranking Midwest cities for startups is “pointless,” and “doesn’t provide much beyond poorly constructed click bait.” 

In a string of tweets over the weekend, Resnick said most rankings aren’t well constructed, and argues it’s better to group communities by the following categories: developed, emerging, frontier and nascent ecosystems.

As he defines it, a developed ecosystem is an active hub, with a robust number of startups and a self-contained financing ecosystem. He points to Chicago as the only example of a developed ecosystem in the Midwest region.

Emerging ecosystems, he says, have growing or at least non-declining cycles of startup growth, with some local financial resources but not enough to support the ecosystem. As examples, he lists Madison, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ann Arbor, St. Louis and Minneapolis.

Frontier ecosystems have some startup activity, but may be underperforming due to population constraints or small populations that are underperforming. Cities that fit the bill include Cleveland, Lincoln, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Detroit and Kansas City.

Resnick didn’t provide any examples for nascent communities, which would likely be any startup ecosystem that’s just starting to show signs of future potential.

“These categories create a more effective lens to review public policy, ecosystem strategies, etc.,” he said. “Also better accurately measure successful growth/decline given population sizes.”

He adds that consideration for recent changes in status is “also critical.”

“How does a community level-up? Chicago recently hit developed in the last decade,” he said. “Pittsburgh and Indianapolis are newcomers to the emerging list in the last 5-7 years. Regression seen elsewhere. What policies work?”

See the tweets here: