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)

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