Canvas Model

The Rainforest Canvas


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The Rainforest Canvas allows you to visualize your own ecosystem of Innovation for your Company, Organization, or Hometown. It’s based on the book “The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley”

Rainforest Canvas's Creators

T2Venture, The Rainforest Canvas Creator

Victor W. Hwang & Greg Horowitt

Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt are experienced venture capitalists, who have both also led organizations designed to further the growth of innovation economies and are now advising around the world. The Rainforest Canvas is based on their book “The Rainforest: the Secret of Building the next Silicon Valley”...

Description of the Rainforest Canvas

Innovations are like weeds and, as such, are birthed and sprout best in uncontrolled environments such as the Rainforest. In their book, “The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley“, Greg Horowitt and Victor Hwang outline the key elements of an entrepreneurial ecosystem fostering innovation.


As they describe, building a Rainforest can generally be divided into three steps: SEED, CULTIVATE and NOURISH. The Rainforest Canvas is a great tool to draw a high level picture of your own Rainforest. Generally, this exercise is undertaken during the SEED phase, when it’s important to build up early understanding of the key building blocks of your ecosystem.


The canvas is divided into blocks. Each block represents a critical piece of your Rainforest. They are interdependent, just like the flora and fauna in a natural rainforest.


As an real ecosystem, a Company, Organization, or Hometown Rainforest will evolve, adapt and grow with time. When used on TUZZit, the Rainforest Canvas can be used to keep track of this change and to understand what actions need to be taken to make the Rainforest flourish.


Fill the canvas by answering the following questions. You don’t have to answer all of them and you can address others if you find them relevant. Some questions will make more sense for a certain kinds of innovation ecosystems as well (Company, Organization, or Hometown).



  • Who are the entrepreneurs?

  • Who are the service providers?

  • Who are the inventors?

  • Who are the capital providers?

  • Who are the support organizations?

  • What is the role of government?

  • Who are the other key participants in the innovation ecosystems?



  • Who has the reputation, resources and commitment to lead new initiatives?

  • Who will champion new initiatives within their own organizations?

  • How can leaders and champions be more inclusive?



  • What resources are available to aspiring entrepreneurs (knowledge, mentorship, cloud hosting, etc.)?

  • What sources of capital are there in the marketplace?

  • How does this capital flow and interact with growing businesses?

  • What is the volume and quality of talent in the labor pool?

  • What are the main sources of innovative ideas/discoveries/inventions?

  • What resources are available to service and support organizations that interact with entrepreneurs (workforce training, etc.)?



  • What are people already doing to stimulate innovation/entrepreneurship?

  • How are these people collaborating with each other?

  • What activities drive participation in the community?

  • What events create ‘buzz’ and generate interest?



  • Where, when and how do stakeholders interact?

  • How do ideas, talent and capital come together?

  • What are the lines of communication between partners?

  • How do members of the community collaborate with each other?

  • How does the community engage external or global partners?

  • How does the community encourage recruit new constituents?

  • How do young people get involved?

  • What forums exist that allow the breakdown of social and professional hierarchies?


Role Models

  • Who are the local entrepreneurs that have built successful companies?

  • Who are the local entrepreneurs that haven’t yet been successful and what can we learn from their failures?

  • What regions have similar attributes and resources?

  • What organizations have shared visions/values?

  • Are there other regions with successful innovation ecosystems that we could learn from or emulate?



  • What is the regulatory environment for innovation?

  • What legal/bureaucratic barriers stand in the way of entrepreneurship?

  • What widespread social norms surround the innovation ecosystem?


Infrastructure, Capability & Community

  • What is the density & quality of service providers (law, IP, consulting, real estate, etc.)?

  • What boundary spanning organizations exist?

  • What is the local level of serial entrepreneurship?

  • What is the density and quality of physical infrastructure (airports, internet connections, etc.)?

  • What are the core sectors of the local economy?

  • What are the strongest regional comparative advantages?



  • Where do people come from?

  • What are their value systems?

  • What are their motivations (money, reputation, lifestyle, self expression, etc.)?

  • What are the ‘amenities of place’?

  • How do we create and maintain a sense of urgency?

  • What kind of innovative social networks exist already?

  • How do people deal with uncertainty, risk or randomness?

  • How is failure perceived?

  • Do people build for perfection or iteration?


If you invite the right people to collaborate on your canvas, the results can be powerful. Ideally the participants to your collaborative exercise should have a good understanding of one or several block(s) of the canvas. Don’t hesitate to contact other stakeholders and to do some research to answer some of the questions if you are missing some elements.

Focus intensely on the bottlenecks in the social fabric of your Rainforest. Above all, you want to overcome social barriers caused by geography, networks, culture, language, and distrust as these will prevent valuable relationships to form and flourish.

Other important questions are:

If you want more information about the Rainforest framework and if you would like to create your own Rainforest, you should get in contact with T2Venture. Victor Hwang, Greg Horowitt and their team built the Rainforest Architects program to support companies, organizations and cities in developing thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems.