“Great startups are created all over the world and we want to shine light on them,” exclaims the enthusiastic and lively Hermoine Way, founder of Startup World. “The day before yesterday we were in London, yesterday Paris, tomorrow Berlin.” Startup World is a global competition to find the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. In each country, the jury – a mix of international and local experts – selects a regional winner who will represent their country and promote their startup during the finals in Silicon Valley this fall.
Startup World is visiting the places where bleeding-edge innovation occurs, where startups are created that can really change the world and the way we do business. All participating countries were selected through a crowd-sourced map. Barcelona was selected as one of the technology hubs that can’t be missed in the European tour. Judge Johnny Diggz expects the Barcelona start-up scene to be more consumer-facing and less technology focused. In a tourism-driven economy, more startups are focusing on how every day improvements can help you raise the quality of life. Co-founder Erick Davidson adds that the Mobile World Congres also creates a lot of energy around communication and app start-ups. Nowadays it just takes a laptop and wifi to change the world.
Diggz is a chief evangelist from Silicon Valley. What makes Silicon Valley so special? “Is it a geographic region, a mentality, or a concept? Silicon Valley is a state of mind.” For Barcelona startups to enter this state of mind, Hermoine advises “stop excusing yourself for being from Europe; get away the shyness, don’t be from the province! Scrap saying who you want to imitate and instead make your own brand. You are not Sillicon Valley, you’re the Barelona hub!” At the same time, all three acknowledge that some steps must be taken to improve the startup ecosystem: change the mentality on how to find money, get help in the regulation hurdles (which is sometimes like a game of Zelda in search of the right key to open the right door) and last but not least, get the press involved. The reason why Silicon Valley startups get hyped is because they are very good at communicating their projects and have a whole caravan of journalist and bloggers reporting on their achievements and propositions. They do not hesitate when it comes to self-promotion. “With Startup World the press follows the buzz of Hermoine’s spotlight. We bring the Silicon Valley buzz machine out.”
And what advice do these global travelers and propagators of a Startup World give to the Barcelona Community?
Erick: “Jump in and do it. The longer you wait, the more people who will try your idea. You will never be ready, you just have to start. Don’t wait too long.”
Hermoine: “Don’t be apologetic about being from Europe. The hardest part is to start, it will get easier. Try and see. And if it fails you can always get a job at a corporate giant.”
Diggz: “Play to your strengths. The tools to create a startup are all around you. There are excellent co-working facilities, accelerators, good business schools, there is low cost internet, (meet up) groups focused on facilitating startup culture and there are mentors who want to spend time to help the culture here. Utilize the things that are here.”
Interested in how the Barcelona startup finalists fared in the pitch competition? Read Part 2 about the event here.