Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was invited by Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) Ljubljana, Slovenia as a keynote speaker for Investor Day event jointly organized by American Chamber of Commerce, Department of Economic Development and Technology and the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment. It was great to meet with a number of entrepreneurs and the grass root movement that is happening in Slovenia. It was interesting to me because of the perspective of a number of Slovenians that the country is small. The reason I was invited to talk about Startup Iceland and GreenQloud was because they felt that if there was one country that was definitely smaller than Slovenia is Iceland and they were intrigued to hear my story and why I was investing in Iceland and why I founded Startup Iceland.

It is a complicated story how I got to meet Slovenian entrepreneurs and how I got connected with CEED. But it is worth mentioning that one of my favorite blogging tool Zemanta was founded by Bostjan Spetic, and he is Slovenian and his wife Gaja are big fans of Iceland as they traveled to Iceland twice this year. It was through them that I got connected to Slovenia. I was very impressed to see the green shoots of startup culture and critical mass of entrepreneurs wanting to start doing new things and change the ecosystem. Met with some of the leaders who are running accelerators or incubators or looking to start new mentorship driven accelerator like Startup Reykjavik in Slovenia. This event was very interesting for me as I can see the clash between the two groups, the hierarchical organizations and the small network based entrepreneurial organizations.

The main guest speaker of the event was Dr. Alexander Dibelius, one of the leading investment bankers and investment environment connoisseurs, Chairman of the Executive Board Goldman Sachs AG; Head of Goldman Sachs Germany, Austria, Russia and CEE; and Global Head of Goldman Sachs Industrial Group. I really did not agree with a lot of things that Dr. Alexander was saying, but that is for another blog post. The young entrepreneurial community in Slovenia is at the same early stage as we have in Iceland and it was great to connect with this community. There are a number of similarities and challenges, so it was great to compare notes, get inspired and inspire the grass root to start doing things. Here is the link to the presentation that I gave, it was more about how I got started and why I do what I do etc I was humbled to see so many people inspired by the story of Iceland and what Iceland stands for, it gives me great strength to learn that we are on the right path in creating a sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland and in my humble opinion we are just following what Brad Feld has documented in his book Startup Communities. I recommended the book to anyone who wants to learn how to build a startup community. I also met with a number of media outlets, TV channels and newspapers… it was interesting to learn about the challenges in Slovenia. I am really smitten by this country and I am sure I will come back again as I volunteered to be a mentor to any of the accelerators that would have me as one.