Countdown to Istanbul

Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills. GEC 2018 takes place in Istanbul, Turkey — a thriving startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of Europe and Asia. You can now register for the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. Registration is EUR 99.

United nations of entrepreneurship

Delegates from 173 different countries gathered at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg – a budding startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of South Africa – and attended in-depth masterclasses and relevant discussions to foster entrepreneurs to start and scale new businesses.

In its ninth year, more than 8,400 people from around the world registered for the Congress, co-hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, the Kauffman Foundation, SEA Africa and the City of Johannesburg. Other partners included the Industrial Development Corporation, South Africa’s Department of Small Business Development and the Gauteng Province, as well as companies including ABSA, Transnet, Hollard, SAB, Telkom, Microsoft and Johnson and Johnson.

During the four-day long Congress, delegates had the opportunity to make connections, learn about new research, and take home the latest information to renew their programs, facilitate policy discussions and mobilize their entrepreneurial community.

Beyond the sessions and discussions, the GEC 2017 left an additional impact on the country and continent, with the launch of the regional GEN affiliate, GEN Africa, and the reaffirmation of GEN South Africa – led by Managing Director Kizito Okechukwu. The Congress brought delegates from around the world to Africa, and GEN Africa will work to innovate and unite the continent’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – bringing Africa to the world.

As well as the emergence of GEN Africa, world government leaders in entrepreneurship, small businesses and innovation, gathered at the GEC for the third Global SME Ministerial. Led by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the South African Ministry of Small Business Development, ministers and policy leaders participated in a dialogue to share best practices, find collaborative solutions and to create a path for promoting entrepreneurship in any economy and community around the world.

The 2017 Congress also included a new, customized track for global investment organizations, as well as for entrepreneurs and startup founders. The customized sessions focused on issues such cross-border investing and the entrepreneur program covered relevant challenges and success stories from global entrepreneurs.

Other highlights from the Congress included pitch corners for entrepreneurs and organizations to pitch their idea on a global stage, entrepreneurship workshops, and in-depth, high-impact sessions that covered many topics, including:

  • Digital disruption in a changing economy;
  • Analyzing entrepreneurial mindset in South Africa, and creating a replicable study;
  • Enhancing early stage investment;
  • Catalyzing startup communities;
  • Intersection of public and corporate partnerships to enable entrepreneurial growth in communities; and more.

The global discussion will continue in Istanbul, Turkey, for the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. It will be held April 16 – 19, 2018.

1millionstartups launches at GEC 2017

1millionstartups was launched at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa. 1millionstartups is the first worldwide campaign and community dedicated to promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and the startup world while raising the awareness about the importance of startups in today‘s social & economic development, as well as inspiring new founders and business angels to create the startups we need. Founded by EBAN Board Member and Austrian Angel Investors Association Co-founder Selma Prodanovic, 1millionstartups is focused on growing a community of 1 million members inspired to impact the world through their own action, through entrepreneurship – a movement based on solutions.  In their over 25 years of experience & research, the 1millionstartups team identified the three most crucial issues for entrepreneurs to develop successfully:

1) “I know I can” or access to role-models and inspiration

2) “I know how” or access to know-how and experience exchange,

3) “I know where” or access to capital and other resources.

They aim to tackle all three problems and provide global solutions by giving startups an easily accessible platform to start with: the world’s leading startup gallery. The 1millionstartups gallery provides immediate global visibility and it already features startups from every corner of the world.

The initiative also strongly supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 1millionstartups was selected and presented at the UN Communication Group Meeting in Vienna as best practice example how business can contribute to innovation and achieving the SDGs. They aim to invest €100million in their members by 2025.

All startups solving a global challenge are invited to join 1millionstartups and benefit from increased visibility with investors and other ecosystem stakeholders.

Entrepreneurs go to Africa

Next month, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress will gather together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 160 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates will make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm up founder skills.

GEC 2017 will take place at the heart of South Africa, in Johannesburg — a budding startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of the country — which promises to build on the successes of previous years.

The GEC is an open, four-day conference that gathers all elements of the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. At the core of the Congress is a mix of large-scale plenary sessions for thousands of delegates and more intimate and in-depth parallel sessions conducted by leading global organizations helping entrepreneurs start and scale new businesses.


The GEC will take place March 13-16. Details at

2016 – new state of Appiness

Apple reported Thursday that developers raked in $20 billion on its App Store in 2016, a 40 percent jump since 2015.

That suggests Apple reaped at least $8 billion in revenue from its App Store, with a 20% growth of 2.2 million apps.

The biggest drivers for the App Store included games such as “Pokemon Go,” which was the most downloaded app in 2016; “Super Mario,” which was the most downloaded app on Christmas and New Year’s days; and subscription-based apps, such as Netflix, Hulu and Time Warner’s HBO Go.

The tech giant said its biggest day of sales on the App Store was on Jan. 1, 2017, when customers spent a record $240 million. The top grossing markets included the U.S, U.K., Japan and China, which saw 90 percent year-over-year growth.

Investors pay close attention to the performance of the App Store, as Apple now emphasizes its role as a services company. The broad smartphone market is maturing, and the tech giant is highlighting recurring revenue streams that do not depend on new device sales.

Digital stores represent big battlegrounds between Apple and rival Google.

According to App Annie, which provides market data for the app economy, Google Play’s worldwide downloads were 115 percent higher than Apple’s App Store downloads in the third quarter, which is the latest data available.

However, Apple maintained its advantage in revenue. In the third quarter, App Store revenue was 100 percent higher than Google Play’s.

55 countries work together to create world-class entrepreneurship policy

IMG_0917The 2016 Startup Nations Summit gathered startup community leaders and policymakers from 55 countries this weekend in Cork, Ireland. Its mission is to help better enable high impact entrepreneurship, especially through the identification of policy levers and smart public sector driven programs. The Summit is now a major feature of Global Entrepreneurship Week which has seen 35,000 activities and events this past week across 165 countries.

Following SNS Toronto in 2012, SNS Kuala Lumpur in 2013, SNS Seoul in 2014 and SNS Monterrey in 2015, Startup Ireland, in partnership with Cork Innovates, hosted its fellow Startup Nations members for the first time in Europe. At this fifth edition of SNS, Startup Nations members continued their work to unearth and evaluate new effective policy levers and public sector-driven programs that are making an impact in advancing entrepreneurial growth around the world. The Ministerial discussions included ministers from Thailand to Guatemala lead by Maria Contreras-Sweet, President Obama’s Administrator for Small Business Administration.

At the SNS, Startup Nations, for a second year, recognised innovative public sector leaders and policy approaches from around the world through the Startup Nations Awards which were held at Cork City Council hosted by the Mayor of Cork.

The future is bright

ESSA seminar

GEN Algeria is the nation’s newly formed organisation as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. For this pilot initiative they invited students from 100 universities across the country to take part. Demand was overwhelming with 4,800 students gathering at the Houari Boumediene University of Sciences and Technology campus in Algiers. The 5 day program included talks from experts, workshops, seminars and competitions. International speakers included Kiran Maverick, Olesea Solpan Fortuna, Jas Miine, Soumeya Rachedi, Fatiha Rachedi, Marc Ortmans, Marian Spier, Tanja Minja Kalezic, Mehdi Drissi, Adil Gherib and Kevin J. Langley.

Creating and building an entrepreneurial culture in this young community involves shifting mindsets towards innovation, and motivating the entrepreneurial spirit. Ideaspace Global’s founder Marc Ortmans said, “Their enthusiasm and engagement was extraordinary – like I have never seen before even in the most developed economies. There was a palpable hunger to learn and absorb everything. The students were almost equally made up of men and women and demonstrated a collaborative and meritocratic approach in everything they did from discussion to mixed teams in competitions”.

ESSA revealed that there is a bright future for Algeria. The country’s millennials have exceptional talent, enthusiasm, and determination rarely seen elsewhere. A new reality is emerging, a tipping point where a new generation of entrepreneurs are ready to change the world.

Hot topics at GES 2016, Silicon Valley

This week all eyes will be on Silicon Valley where more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors will gather for a summit led by U.S. President Barack Obama. The 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, held June 23-24, at Stanford University, is part of President Obama’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world to build strong, prosperous, secure communities.

GEN is once again front-and-center, coordinating the private sector engagement in the summit with support from leading partners including the Kauffman Foundation, Google, Dell, Skoll, Stanford and many others. The summit brings together emerging entrepreneurs, experienced investors and ecosystem actors to help start and scale innovative new businesses around the world.

“This summit demonstrates President Obama’s tireless commitment to helping people anywhere in the world to unleash their ideas in pursuit of economic independence,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “Having participated in all seven of his summits, GEN shares that commitment and will carry it forward in the years to come.” 

Founders from major startup success stories like Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn and others will be on hand to share their experiences on a global stage.

GEN kicked off the summit with the GES+ Emerging Youth and Women event, as well as the Spark the Fire pitch competition. Select sessions, speakers and events will be live-streamed or recorded and posted the to GES 2016 website. Below is a list of eight highlights for the Summit.

Zuckerberg, Obama Share GES Main Stage on Friday

June 24 | 9:30 a.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg open the final day of the summit and lead an impressive collection of speakers including Steve Case, co-founder of AOL; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google; the cast of HBO’s hit show Silicon Valley; Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; and Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Kauffman Ecosystem Hackathon

June 24 | 3:00 p.m.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and 8works Consulting lead a unique master class where participants act as the teacher – through an immersive and interactive process exemplifying how startup ecosystems are being built around the world. The session will harvest the collective intelligence of Summit participants, through sharing of ideas, stories and solutions to challenges of culture, connectivity, top-down enablement and the measurement of start-up ecosystems. Speakers include Victor Hwang and Larry Jacob of the Kauffman Foundation and Todd Johnston, principal at 8works.

Uber, Airbnb Founders Headline GES 2016 Fireside Chats

June 23 | 9:00 a.m.

Leading startup founders and industry advisors will discuss entrepreneurial inspiration, as well as talk about their own entrepreneurial journey. Speakers include Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber Technologies; Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; Brian Chesky, founder and CEO of Airbnb; and Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures.

Master Class: Education Technology

June 24 | 11:45 a.m.

Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation leads a masterclass and panel discussion on how the education industry is rapidly expanding and evolving, from what students learn in the classroom to how they learn. The session features discussion on trends in the EdTech space, as well as learn more about education research and updates. Speakers include:

  • Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (moderator)
  • Tariq Fancy, CEO and founder of Rumie
  • Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera
  • Ala’ Alsallal, founder and CEO of Jamalon 
  • Nate Hurst, chief sustainability and social impact officer at HP

Dell Policy Hack, powered by the Kauffman Foundation

June 23 | 5:45 p.m.

Dell and the Kaufmann Foundation have created an interactive policy hackathon that tasks teams of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, youth and policy experts to design solutions to pressing global policy challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Five teams will have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of experts – including GEN’s Jonathan Ortmans – and a wider audience who will vote for the winning solution. The winning team will receive a Dell product and commitment from Dell and the Kauffman Foundation to help further develop the proposal.

GEN Partners with UNCTAD, State Department to Ease Business Registration

June 24 | 12:30 pm

Three global facing organizations announce a public-private partnership from the Global Launch Lounge to make it easier for startups to register their new businesses all over the world. Charles H. Rivkin, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Frank Grozel, business facilitation program manager for the UN Conference on Trade and Development and Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, sign a memorandum of understanding for the development, maintenance, expansion and promotion of the Global Enterprise Registration portal ( The mission of the portal is to help businesses by encouraging governments to develop simple online procedures, starting with business registration. has links to all business registration websites in the world and a rating of the user-friendliness of each. A simple green dot rating lets businesses immediately see whether an online process is clear and complete, which saves time.

Breakout Session: What Attracts Venture Capital/Private Equity

June 23 | 1:00 p.m.

The breakout session explores how investing in emerging markets is a very mainstream activity, how major investors are active and investing in great companies, and there are sophisticated private equity/venture capital firms from these markets. Speakers include:

  • Victor H. Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation
  • Jim Sorenson, chairman of Sorenson Impact Foundation
  • Nagraj Kashyap, vice president and global head of Microsoft Ventures
  • Shiza Shahid, co-founder and CEO of Malala Fund
  • Antonio Gracias, CEO of Valor Equity Partners
  • Kate Mitchell, co-founder and partner of Scale Venture Partners (moderator)

Master Class: How to Build a Startup Ecosystem from Scratch in an Emerging Market

June 23 | 2:15 p.m.

The master class will explore the birth, evolution and scale of entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide; systems that are poised to yield unicorns in the next decade. Speakers include:

  • Donna Harris, cofounder of 1776
  • Ruangroj “Krating” Poonpol, partner with 500 Startups
  • Richard van Hoolwerff, country manager of SPARK 
  • Andrew Yang, founder and CEO of Venture for America 
  • Amy Stursberg, executive director of Blackstone Charitable Foundation
  • Elmira Bayrasli, co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted (moderator)

– See more at:

Blue Growth honours marine entrepreneurs

Greece has suffered more than most during the global recession. Given the severity of the challenges the country and its economy faces, it is all the more remarkable that a major entrepreneurial initiative has been been created. Blue Growth launched in 2014 and aims to inspire and help young entrepreneurs realise their ideas connected with marine and freshwater resources. At its heart is a growing Awards format that has seen several startups showcase some highly innovative developments.  The 2016 Awards took place this week in Pireaus Marine Club.

Five out of the nine participating teams which presented their blue economy ideas were awarded during the event which was jointly organized by sustainable-business education and incubation program

“The sea has throughout time served as Greece’s means to getting back on track financially; to growing again after wars and natural disasters,” Piraeus Mayor Yannis Moralis said in his opening address. The winners will receive services worth €5,000, scholarships for MBA programs at the Athens University of Economics and Business and for the MA program at the University of the Aegean’s Department of Marine Sciences and E-learning Master in Maritime from BCA College, as well as the opportunity to present their ideas at the Posidonia 2016 maritime and shipping show to be held on June 9th at the Metropolitan Expo.

“I am among those who believe that Greece will return to growth yet again starting from the sea, its shipping, its ports and tourism. Shipping and tourism are the two pillars that have shown resilience to the long-lived crisis, keeping the Greek economy alive while all other productive sectors have fallen behind,” he added.


And the first prize of the Second Blue Growth challenge went to… Hopwave for their online ticketing service for island-based boats to unknown destinations.

XYZ clinched second place for their 3D laser scanner offering onboard browsing via 3D photography.

The third prize went to the Recisle team for its island recycling scheme.

Achini Aigaiou (or Aegean Sea Urchins) came in fourth for their sea urchin aquaculture concept.

My City-lane Piraeus taking up fifth spot for their project on connecting cruise travellers with the Piraeus market.

Also out of competition were three winning teams from other competitions that Blue Growth were a supporter or a sponsor, having already won their participation in the BG Incubation program:

Shipowner (Gamification app for owners) – Startup Weekend Piraeus Winner

Blue Corellation (gathering all the disparate data and reforming them in a uniform and consistent electronic platform use by entities, individuals and businesses, as a cluster of coral) – Blue Hackathon Winner

–  (app for boat rental and nearby route options from the islands) – SETE CrowdHackathon Winner

Creative disruption in the maritime sector can introduce promising business opportunities, create new jobs, and transform traditional processes into more productive and sustainable activities.  We look forward to more promising startups at the Blue Growth Awards in 2017.

Why successful entrepreneurs live in the present

Here are three ways successful entrepreneurs embrace the journey to make it matter as much as the destination.

1. They embrace uncertainty

Much of entrepreneurship is about taking calculated risks and then adapting and responding to whatever happens next. I’ve spent many sleepless nights wondering about the impact of a decision and thinking through various options for next steps. It’s maddening not having more clarity about how things will turn out.

One of the qualities that will endure is your willingness to embrace uncertainty as part of the journey. I started my company when I moved to a relatively small market years ago, feeling like I’d been bumped off the fast track in my career and unsure of how to reclaim it. But with the help of a talented team, I managed to build a successful business despite the challenges, eventually selling it to a global organization that I’m still part of today.

Life will take you places you never thought you’d go. You can have a plan, but it rarely works out just the way you’d hoped. It’s up to you to be willing to scrap the map and follow the detours, even when the way forward is unclear. You must be nimble, resilient and patient enough to stay on the journey — no matter where it leads. When you do, you’ll find yourself reaching destinations you never thought possible.

2. They don’t sacrifice the journey for wealth and power

Financial success is always a top priority in business. Everyone wants to make money. At some point, however, you must ask yourself how much you really need. When material wealth becomes more important than life experiences and being with those you love, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Only a few years ago, success was defined largely by what people acquired: job titles, bank accounts, homes and cars. But according to a Xero survey, safeguarding your personal relationships makes good business sense, too. Among 2,000 business owners, nearly 60% said the ability to spend time with their families in the evening was essential to their success.

More business owners are striving to build companies that have a positive impact on their employees, customers and communities. They value work-life balance for themselves and those around them, and they want to find passion and purpose in what they do — those things that make life worth living.

The same can be said for power.

Even the best leaders struggle to share authority

Even the best leaders struggle to share authority. But power is unfulfilling if it alienates you from those you want to be close to. The journey is more rewarding when you make it about connection and collaboration, exchanging ideas and bringing them to fruition as part of a team.

Victories begin to feel hollow when you can’t share them with anyone. So be willing to examine your leadership style in a new light: Do you let people in? Are you empowering your staff members so they can excel with you? Do you need to practice trust more often with your team? Sharing power is challenging at first, but freeing up your time and resources is crucial to finding greater balance and enjoying the journey.

3. They define their own measures of success

In a study published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, researchers found a positive correlation between engagement and performance in the workplace and a negative correlation between workaholism and performance. Rather than working tirelessly to hit traditional milestones, focus on doing your best as a leader every day and building an exceptional company along the way. Don’t just try to create the biggest brand or make the most money possible; instead, try to create a company that is known for excellence and empowers people to do and be their best.

Once that mindset became my “there,” the journey became much more satisfying — and, surprisingly, we achieved many of the traditional measures of success, anyway. As long as you commit yourself to these lasting ideals and keep your focus where it should be, you’ll reach the destination.

Embracing the journey requires courage and a shift in thinking. It’s hard to look at the challenges and volatility of running a business with an open mind and a positive heart. But there’s more to being an entrepreneur than making money. Personal and professional success will follow if you make the journey matter as much as the destination.

Credit: Mashable