I am in Halifax, Canada participating in Mentor Camp and Startup Empire Conference. Yesterday, was Mentor Camp and I had the opportunity to meet and mentor with 6 teams. Very interesting to see different teams solving some hard problems. The host of the Mentor Camp and someone who brought this together was Permjot Valia, who is an investor and mentor and everything in between. It is great to see people stepping up and doing this to help entrepreneurs move forward in their vision of building their companies. It is great to see Permjot do this in London, South Africa, Arkansa and in Halifax.
Today I plan to participate in Startup Empire Conference and I will be in a panel talking about “Building Global Communities – what is happening in Waterloo, Iceland, Halifax and everywhere else”. It is exciting to see startup communities building up everywhere and it is exciting to see the entire stack of each of these communities starting to participate, contribute and build. The glue in this process is the entrepreneur leader(s) of the local community. I cannot emphasize enough what a critical role the entrepreneur leader(s) play, they hold everything together and make sure the community is alive and kicking. It is hard to measure progress in these roles, but I think we can relatively gauge the strength of the community based on the environment that exists for someone to startup.
The entrepreneur is the glue, but all other organizations of the community play a critical roles as well. Governments, Universities and Service Providers need to build the infrastructure that fosters a welcoming and vibrant environment to anyone wanting to start and contribute to do just that. It was awesome to see Halifax building such a culture. Haukur Gudjonsson the Founder and CEO of Bungalo.com has made Halifax his second home and expanding his service into Canada. Haukur has taken the role he has played in Iceland and brought it to Halifax and has become one of the leaders in the startup community. It is great to see that. I am extremely optimistic about the Halifax startup community based on the above anecdotal evidence. The feedback that I get from Haukur is that the community is vibrant with a number of startups coming out this ecosystem. The fact that he was able to get started in this city and is expanding his business is great for startups from halifax as well as Iceland.
The third big idea that I want to write about is that every startup ecosystem becomes stronger when there are bridges built from it to other startup communities. Halifax is doing that as well, we had a startup from Arkansas presenting and we also had investors and mentors from Arkansas participate in the event. I am glad Haukur built this bridge and now the startup community in Iceland is connected to the startup community in Halifax. I believe this is a very positive trend and it enables startups to get input, feedback and even resources from different communities. Much like trade in goods and services, we are now trading ideas on how to build great startups, the more participants in this process and the more chaotic the better it is for all the ecosystems and participants that participate and learn.