Image: Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre – the venue of Startup Iceland

It is that time of the year again, we are starting the preparation for Startup Iceland 2017. The theme for this year is Personal Data, Health, Wellness and Technology. I want to bring emphasis to the health, wellness and fitness of the founders, my tribe. I have written about why I believe this is important for founders. I also feel the time is right to open up Iceland for Founders and other entrepreneurs to come to Iceland, experiment and build their startups from Iceland. Startup Iceland 2017 will focus on those broad concepts. We are assembling an awesome roster of speakers, mentors and startups.

Startup Iceland has always been about helping startup founders and entrepreneurs find their network, mentor and their tribe. I believe this is an important step in the founding journey. I have resisted the urge to make Startup Iceland event into a mega event, as I believe it defeats the core purpose of why we organise the event. The intimacy and connections that is facilitated during Startup Iceland is invaluable when compared to any other conference in the world. I also believe startup communities get stronger when they connect with other startup communities. We made this one of the sub-themes of Startup Iceland 2016 and we called it the Return on Startup Communities. I think the return on the Startup Economy is fantastic. There is enough and more data to suggest that building a vibrant startup community does wonders to all facets of the general economy. Iceland is no exception, the economy of Iceland is growing nicely and all macro trends are pointing to the fact that Iceland is on a very good economy trajectory. This is also the time to build new foundations of economic prosperity in the country. I would even been bold enough to quote my friend Smari McCarthy, this is the time to future proof Iceland.

I think Iceland is under-investing in Startups and Founders despite the rapid rise in the economic growth, I still believe the bulk of the investible capital is going to traditional asset classes like real estate, fishing and energy. Oh, there is a proxy for the traditional asset classes now in Iceland and it is Tourism. The number of hotels being developed in the city is quite alarming and this has pushed the real estate prices in Reykjavik to 2007 levels. We have an inside joke in Iceland if anything surreal is happeing is Iceland we refer back to 2007, that year is anchor for us to describe anything that is crazy. I believe we should be investing more in Startups, we need to increase the volume and velocity of startups in Iceland. I want to 10 fold the number of startups that get created and built from Iceland. There are enough challenges and issues that require startup thinking.

One of those is the issue of health and wellness. I personally went through a major health crisis and I am happy that I had the time to work on the root causes and fix the issue from first principles. I think technology can be an extremely valuable tool in enabling and solving some of the health challenges we have. I believe we need to use technology to understand biology better. I know a number of people and founders who are doing that. The area of Biotechnology is fascinating and I want to bring attention to that sector in Iceland. We are bringing founders and investors who are fully vested in this space for Startup Iceland 2017.

Like always we are bringing veterans in the Venture Capital world who have committed their time and resources to help startup founders and entrepreneurs. To coach them mentor them and enable them to achieve their dreams and goals. Startup Iceland has always been about #Give, the event, the mentoring sessions and hackathons etc are all built on the principle of #Give. If we as a community put giving our resources, our time and effort to the founders I believe we are building something valuable for the community. The founders and entrepreneurs are true givers, they sacrifice their life, time and effort for a cause that builds a better future. I believe Iceland can play a role in the quest for the fantastic future, thereby we dramatically improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the local community and the global community. What is more valuable than that?