On March 17 – 20, I had the pleasure of participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC), the biggest event for entrepreneurs in the world. Globally sponsored by Dell, this year the congress received more than 4,000 startup champions, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers.
The GEC got its start back in March 2009, when the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation brought together the Global Entrepreneurship Week host organizations from nearly 60 nations to create the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress at its headquarters in the United States. Last year, in 2012, was the largest GEC, hosted in Liverpool where the guest of honor was entrepreneur icon, Richard Branson.
In Rio this year, the focus for convening was around how both policymakers and startup communities can better understand each other and work together to promote an environment more conducive to startups and the growth of young firms. A particularly relevant topic to me as the EIR for Dell, I am working with the Government Affairs team to get Federal and State-level legislation passed that is aimed to help make doing business with the government easier for entrepreneurs.
The GEC featured sessions, events, panel discussions and debates around the concept of winning in business. Topics included, “Helping Entrepreneurs Start Strong,” “Removing Barriers to Scaling Up,” and “Growth Strategies: From Startup to Iconic Brand.” Sessions were made up of entrepreneurs from Malaysia, Italy, the Middle East, North Africa and Moscow to name a few, and I learned that access to technology and capital and local policy that supported small businesses were the biggest differentiators of success- no matter where you are from.
While on the ground, I listened to various entrepreneurial stories, collected insights for Dell and also participated on a panel, “Financing Growth: Innovative New Approaches.” The premise of the panel spurred from evidence of the globalization of the startup revolution, which offers entrepreneurs worldwide access to new insights from different parts of the world about building entrepreneurial communities to scaling fast, and everything in between. In true global fashion, the accompanying panel participants were executives from Italy and Egypt.
The trip was absolutely awe-inspiring. The definitions of “entrepreneurship” and an “entrepreneur” looked both so similar, yet so different across the globe. The local variables change per country, and even city, but the spirit and social good intent behind the innovators were the same. It reinforced and further established the incredible opportunity that is present- worldwide- to support entrepreneurs and those building the companies that will change and dictate the future of our world. Through our ongoing support for startups and entrepreneurs at Dell, we have a critical role to play in actively moving the mark each day.