Idea Sharing at Start + Scale Forum and SME Ministerial

GECDay two of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress kicked off this morning with the event’s official opening ceremony. Jonathan Ortmans, chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, called attention to the need for many different types of actors from policymakers to mentors to investors to entrepreneurs, working together to build one strong global ecosystem.

Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation spoke to the need of good data for making informed decisions to support entrepreneurs. Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of IllyCafe, highlighted that through shared experiences and developing collaboration with policymakers, entrepreneurs are important leaders in society. The opening ceremony wrapped up with Lindiwe Zulu, minister of small business development who took the stage to offer a policymaker’s perspective of the ecosystem, noting that she is eager to harness the power of entrepreneurship and make it easier for people throughout South Africa to found startups. Minister Zulu also joined Ortmans onstage to announce Johannesburg as the host city for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March 2017.

The Start + Scale Forum on Tuesday showcased voices of entrepreneurs from around the world, sharing stories from their own entrepreneurial journey, lessons learnt and advice for fellow entrepreneurs.

  • Illy declared coffee to be the official beverage of culture. He warned entrepreneurs that profit should be a means rather than an end and encouraged everyone to build a sustainable society to bridge the long and short term goals.
  • Bob Dorf, coauthor of The Startup Owner’s Manual, warned everyone to not fall in love with their startup. Rather, he advised everyone to take the time to talk to customers, even if that means not liking what they say.

  • Amy Cosper, editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, encouraged entrepreneurs to not focus on being relevant. Rather, entrepreneurs should focus on creating relevancy.
  • Jeff Hoffman, cofounder of Priceline and ColorJar, told entrepreneurs to get dirty. More specifically, he urged them to go out, make connections, make a difference and solve problems.
  • Donna Harris, cofounder of 1776, talked about her entrepreneurial journey and her belief in entrepreneurship meaning more. Startups should be powerful tools to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
  • Denny Hollick, cofounder of ConceptKicker, which won last fall’s Global Startup Battle, spoke about the importance of having a good startup team.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, was in Milan today to lead the United States’ participation in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Contreras-Sweet has had several bilateral meetings with foreign dignitaries, with countries such as Germany, South Korea and Panama. In addition, she will serve as a moderator for sessions focused on social impact entrepreneurship and innovation.

Today, she chaired the historical SME Ministerial, which for the first time ever brought together over 14 countries, represented by the Administrator’s counterparts from those nations, to discuss global trends and best practices for supporting entrepreneurship ecosystems

Some of today’s parallel event sessions focused on building competitive and entrepreneurial cities.

“Cities around the world are the place where a new generation of entrepreneurs gets together,” said Andrea Di Anselmo, vice president of META Group. “This means new challenges not to just attract and retain talents but rather to start and scale-up businesses”

During this afternoon’s “Building Competitive and Entrepreneurial Cities” panel, Benedetta Arese, general manager of Uber Italy, argued that the innovations like what Uber and the sharing economy are doing that are revolutionizing cities are in fact good for everyone in the city ecosystem and should be welcomed.

Offering a policy perspective, Wim Dries, mayor of Genk, Belgium, and Cindy Circo, mayor pro tem of Kansas City, United States, showcased their efforts to create startup-friendly cities during the “Entrepreneurial Cities Forum”. Genk and Kansas City were two of the finalist cities from this year’s GEC Cities Challenge.

Professor Laszlo Szerb, who each year compiles vast quantities of the data from 130 countries around the world into the Global Entrepreneurship Index, led a masterclass that walked all the participants through the unique methodology that he and Professor Zoltan Acs developed to measure the quality of entrepreneurship. This deep dive provided a rich understanding of how this one-of-a-kind Index places country-by-country survey and polling data into its proper context, which offers insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Michelle Markey, vice president of Kauffman FastTrac led a comprehensive review of the Kauffman Foundation and the Kauffman FastTrac program offerings. Kauffman FastTrac is a global provider of training that equips aspiring and established entrepreneurs with the business skills and insights, tools, resources, and peer networks necessary to start and grow successful businesses.

Today was also the first day of the H-ACK SCHOOL, a two-day student hackathon sponsored by the Ministry of Education, University and Research that seeks to stimulate the entrepreneurship attitude of Italian children, generating greater confidence in their abilities and ideas.

Tomorrow the Congress will continue with the Research + Policy Summit.