Startups need scale. Iceland is a tiny country, this is an advantage if you are a startup. I have leveraged the size of Iceland in every startup that I have invested in. We start building something new in Iceland, test it within the local market and once we learn everything there is to learn about Product-Market fit, we throw the founder out of Iceland to a larger market. Typically it has been to the US or somewhere in Western Europe. Now we are building bridges to take the startups to India. My friend and fellow entrepreneur/investor Gireendra Kasmalkar, founder and CEO of Ideas to Impacts, gave a talk during the Iceland India Business Forum. He aptly stated the idea of offering a space for startup founders from Iceland to have a soft landing in India to scale their companies. I reciprocated by offering the same to Startups from India to test and validate their ideas in Iceland.
The Future is already here however it is unevenly distributed. Giri has a quote and a trade mark on “Distributing the Future Evenly” through his small town delivery model. Startups can leverage this model naturally, large cities are hard places to navigate. A startup only needs proximity to a large city and built out from a small town. I started my career in a small town called Pune, coincidentally Giri’s company and co-working place is also located in Pune. We have started this new model and I am confident this will prove to be a valuable first step.
I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world. The state visit of the President of India to Iceland has brought a lot of the challenges India faces to the shores of Iceland. We were able to discuss how both of these great countries can collaborate to take on the challenges facing both of them. Iceland and India have a lot to collaborate on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. While a certain population worries about where to go for a ski vacation there are those who are worried about their next meal or not having a roof over their head. Although the global conflict and wars have not resulted in not as many deaths as we have seen in the past, there is a serious problem related to conflict around the world. This condition is not new, however we have not learnt from history or maybe we have learnt the lessons too well that we have gone back to tribalism. The scope of these challenges are beyond my pay grade so I am going to stick to what I believe to be something within my circle of control. Founders, Startups and Investing.
I believe a number of the 17 sustainable development goals can be solved through Founders, Startups and Investing. I have already written about my personal mission to End Poverty. “No poverty” is a function of a growth mindset, if a human being has a growth mindset she can look at the problems we collectively have and try to solve them, thereby becoming an entrepreneur. It is not automatic, the person needs to believe a viable and sustainable business model can be built around the problem she is trying to solve. I spend a lot of time working with founders thinking and addressing these questions. A viable and sustainable business model is paramount to any startup.
Technology is disruptive by definition. We don’t need to be alarmed by that, we just need to make sure it is applied properly in areas it can have exponential impact. The success of startup has been primarily built on the technology foundation. Technology applied correctly can dramatically solve many of the 17 sustainable developmental goals. For example, Retina Risk the startup that we have invested in uses technology to ensure that anyone with a smart phone can self manage their risk of blindness due to diabetes. The soft landing to scale model works nicely for this startup, we are already in discussions with a number of diabetic clinics in India to collaborate and distribute the mobile app to all diabetics in India. The collaboration with Giri can prove to be instrumental in accelerating this strategy. The above and Flow VR are example of a startups that are addressing the Good Health and Well Being goal.
I believe action is the only antidote to the challenges of the future, unless we roll up our sleeves and start working on the challenges of the future they do not get solved. Partnering with India from Iceland seems like a natural thing to do and I could not be more excited to activate the next stage of my mission.