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 http://gec.co

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 (GER.co). The mission of the portal is to help businesses by encouraging governments to develop simple online procedures, starting with business registration. GER.co 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: http://wearegen.co/united-states/eight-highlights-ges-2016-silicon-valley#sthash.2qlBnueV.dpuf

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 aephoria.net

“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

Finding the impact of Entrepreneurship Education

Yael Hochberg, head of the Entrepreneurship Initiative at Rice University and the academic director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, is leading a five year effort to study the effects of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial success. The research project is made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the Kauffman Foundation. 

“Our research agenda aims to explore these new institutions and their features, and to answer a number of fundamental questions about their nature and efficacy,” Hochberg said. “We expect the results of our study to be of considerable interest to many groups, including accelerators, incubators, local governments considering entrepreneurship education programs and educational institutions.”

Hochberg was awarded the 2016 Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research — and its $50,000 prize — last week for her work on the venture capital industry, accelerators, networks and corporate governance and compensation policies. In addition to her position at Rice, she holds a research affiliate position with MIT’s Sloan School of Management and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is also managing director of the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, which publishes an annual ranking of accelerator programs in the United States.

Kauffman Foundation Recognizes Promising Young Researchers

In addition to Hochberg, the Kauffman Foundation also recognized the potential of promising young researchers in announcing the recipients of the 2016 Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship. The 20 students each receive fellowships in the amount of $20,000 to support their dissertation research in the area of entrepreneurship.

From Medellin to Johannesburg


The annual Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC 2016) kicked-off in Medellin, Colombia on 14 March 2017. The GEC is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, innovators and government ministers from around the world. The congress brings together more than 6500 delegates from 160 countries. The theme for this year’s congress was ‘The Business of Next’, and the theme speaks to improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem towards adapting to changes in the business environment, innovative solutions and investments.

The GEC will grace the African continent for the first time at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from the 13-17 March 2017.

The business sector, education and government leaders have been eager champions, but they need more sophisticated tools, programs and research to help them direct their attention and funds to areas with the greatest impact on future economic growth and trends. The GEC helps address these needs by identifying effective initiatives – in all types of economies, across the macro or micro level; advanced or emerging – that positively impact entrepreneurial eco-systems around the world.

Speaking during the transition ceremony, GEC President Jonathan Ortmans, said “GEC 2017 is just one example of the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s commitment to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs start and scale – rebranding the continent and permanently shifting perceptions around the world. We look forward to coming to South Africa.”

The successful GEC bid has been a collaborative partnership between SEA Africa, the Department of Small Business Development, City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, ABSA and Transnet. The South African delegation in Colombia have hosted 50 key global stakeholders in Medellin to present the roadmap to the GEC 2017 South Africa.

South Africa’s Minister for Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, said “Participating in global community strengthens the SME sector through understanding how different entrepreneurial ecosystems operate, learn best practices and how tools may be used to improve domestic markets. Given the constraints faced by the South African economy a significant boost in SME sector is required to address the current low growth projections and high unemployment especially amongst the youth. The GEC will provide insight on best practices, which we will localise, for the South African market. I am further encouraged that South Africa’s delegation will also use the opportunity to spark networks and create strategic conversations with global investors in preparation for Africa’s GEC in 2017.”

Tech gurus challenge politicians with Mayoral manifesto

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates opened the London mayoral election hustings at HereEast in the former Olympic Park.

This important event brought together five candidates hoping to become the next Mayor of London, to hear how they plan to retain the city’s rightful tech crown.

With digital continuing to outperform almost every other sector, gaining its support will be essential to the future mayor’s success. During his term Mayor Boris Johnson threw his considerable clout behind the sector, supporting the development of London’s so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ and today expanding that vision to cover biotechnology too. Whoever wins in May will need to continue and improve upon his legacy.

But when it comes to politics, talk is far too cheap. There’s a woeful lack of understanding of the status quo. Considering we’re the digital capital of Europe, our leaders still fail to speak in a language that reflects the world we live in today.

“I’d like to see a tech champion in every school” Those were the weak words of Peter Whittle, the UKIP candidate who boasted to the crowd he uses his phone “all the time”. At my school we didn’t need a “tech champion”. I’m not sure exactly what one would do. When I was at school the internet was growing at a rate faster than any politician could cook up with a meaningless policy idea.

“I’ll appoint London’s first Chief Digital Officer.” All of the candidates announced this idea with a suggestive pause that cried out for applause that failed to materialise from the audience.

The idea was lifted straight from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy book. In 2011, Bloomberg hired Rachel Haot, an internet entrepreneur, to take New York state’s digital presence to “the next level” pioneering initiatives in the fields of open Government and unlocking the city’s data. 

While a Chief Digital Officer sounds impressive, I hope the new title lives up to more than its name, as Haot did, and actually delivers tangible change.

London still suffers from substandard broadband, but do our politicians really know what it takes to fix the problem? Instead we heard soundbites about “notspots” and cringeworthy namedrops about “..that time I was at Google Campus” and “…when I was last at Twitter and learned about Periscope”.

The leaders had the best of intentions, but most were drowned out by political guff that served to show a worrying lack of understanding.

Sian Berry, the candidate for the Green party, gave an exceptional opening speech, revealing to the delight of the audience she had previously worked for a tech business.

Instead of sticking rigidly to the script, she spoke confidently off the cuff, outlining sensible ideas like acknowledging the potential positive impact for Uber in improving public transport in the city. This was in contrast to the Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith who pandered to the vote-winning powerful black cab driver lobby.

I don’t doubt the political abilities of any of the candidates on show. But if the next mayor wants to be taken seriously by a digital-first electorate, the narrative has to change and better represent the way we live today.

Russ Shaw and Tech London Advocates should be applauded for hosting this groundbreaking event that brought together innovative people from the private sector and showed our leaders how very different this new world is from the one we used to live in.

We already have tech leaders in business. Now we need them in our politics.