I never knew 5 years would fly by so fast. Startup Iceland was once again a blast, great audience participation, insightful conversations, new and old connections and engaging dialogues. I am thankful to everyone who continues to entertain my efforts to build a vibrant and sustainable startup community in Iceland. The path I have taken is the long one, I don’t believe anyone would want to do this because it is probably the hardest way to refocus a community. However, listening to the conversations and energy of the participants in the event I am certain Iceland would be one of those startup communities that will shine, I can feel it. It is not going to happen tomorrow but maybe in the next 5 years :), you see what I did there? Yes, thats right I am committing to do this for another 5 years, God willing.
Highlights of the event for me was the keynote by the President of Iceland. His excellency Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is extremely perceptive and understands what is needed in Iceland.
Of course I enjoyed and learnt from every presentation. You can watch all the videos above, thanks to our Sponsor Innovation Center Iceland. The U.S. Ambassador, Robert Barber had some great advice for founders and entrepreneurs. We were happy to have the British Ambassador and the Finnish Ambassador participate in the event. The Startup Communities from all the Nordic Countries and Britain are connected to Startup Iceland as well. We build strong communities by building bridges to other startup communities.
The Startup Community in Iceland has made new connections with the Techstars Mentors who were generous, gracious and shared so much with us. Mark, Scott, Jenny and Jud, I am forever grateful for your participation and for you taking the time to come to Iceland. Ingrid Vanderveldt was once again a powerhouse of a presenter and gave her time to be a mentor and also was creating a documentary of her journey launching EBW2020 starting in Iceland. I am forever grateful for your participation, mentoring and friendship Ingrid.
In addition to all the keynote speakers, the panel discussions were insightful and created some great conversations online and offline. We announced a number of things during Startup Iceland 2016:
- Winners of Stökkpallurinn Competition, the joint winners were Crankwheel and Vizido.
- Ultrahack the online hackathon platform was officially launched
- Startup Reykjavik, the mentorship driven accelerator batch of 2016 was announced
- Deloitte Fast 50 for this year was launched, if you qualify you should apply
The startups that pitched during Startup Iceland are going places, this year we created a new competition for scale up companies to showcase what they are doing. Crankwheel, Vizido, Keywe and Flow took advantage of the opportunity and really stole the show. I am excited to see where these startups are going to go in the next few years. I have said this before and I will say it again, Iceland punches way above its weight when it comes to anything and Startups are no exception.
Brandur, was brilliant, he was funny and actually showed the true spirit of a Founder. I know he is going to create tremendous value for the startup community in Iceland, if he has not done so already and I am happy that we were able to get his story heard during the event. I am fortunate to be able to put this event together and share what is going on in Iceland as it relates to Founding and Entrepreneurship.
The theme for this year was Scaling and we had some great pointers from Xiaochen Tian, the co-founder and CEO of Travelshift gave about China. I think China is a fantastic market if only entrepreneurs and startup founders understand how to access the market. I am extremely proud of the Guide to Iceland team which is built and is powered by the Travelshift platform. Guide to Iceland is one of the fastest growing companies in Iceland. Guide to Iceland won the Best Exponential Startup of the Year award for Iceland in the Nordic Startup Awards, which again we were fortunate to have during the Startup Iceland week.
Last but not the least the sponsors, patrons and partners of Startup Iceland, they make the event possible every year. I am extremely grateful and thankful to them. Startup Iceland was a germ of an idea 5 years back, I am extremely fortunate to have so many wonder partners in building this idea. So, Vodafone, Icelandair, Tempo, NSA Ventures, Frumtak Ventures, Federation of Icelandic Industries, Islandsstofa, Icelandic Startups, Deloitte, Teqhire, Marel, Microsoft, Bungalo, Vefstofan, Reykjavik University, U.S.Embassy in Iceland, Canadian Embassy in Iceland and all the volunteers especially Paula Gould, Haukur Gudjonsson, Thorun Jonsdottir, Agusta Berg (my lovely wife who makes everything possible), Sigurdur Petersen (my father-in-law who always comes out of retirement to help during Startup Iceland) and many many more. Startup Iceland is a manifestation of the best of the Community in Iceland. I am really grateful to be in a place where ideas can take shape and become bigger than anything imagined.