A few weeks ago the world came together at the 2018 Global Conference in the USA. People from 6 continents, 7,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibiting start-ups participated in this yearly event which hosts world-class leaders/speakers from companies like Google, Slack, Tesla, Reddit, Houzz, Recode, Zendesk and hundreds more. Packed houses in all stages of the Fox Theatre in Redwood City.

Chapter Directors from all around the world give a real Global feeling to the conference and are really at the centre stage as the local heroes that spread the Startup Grind values in their cities. They are paramount to the success of this community and responsible for educating, connecting and inspiring. Another of the striking factors of being a part of the Global Conference was how serious the attendees are about networking, and the opportunities that arise from just talking to others. When you are a start-up this is essential and events provide that platform, hence the unexpected success of the series.

Chapter Directors

For some including myself, it was the first time in San Francisco and a truly magical experience visiting Silicon Valley. It is only then you realise how incredible it is to run a local chapter and to be a part of this network powered by Google for Entrepreneurs (googleforentrepreneurs.com). Their mission statement is simple “We ourselves began in a garage nearly two decades ago and today we celebrate our entrepreneurial roots. As entrepreneurs, you build the future, grow your economies, and launch the next generation of innovative companies.” During a Director’s day at their office in San Francisco, their message to us was that no other organisation in the world comes close to what Startup Grind has achieved building a global start-up community in just a few years.

Startup Grind’s story is one of the humble beginnings. The first event was hosted in 2013, just south of San Francisco in Mountain View, with only a few members in attendance, since then it has grown to a vast global network spanning 115 countries and over 365 chapters at present. Founder Derek Anderson underlines that this is not for the faint-hearted, you need to optimize for impact instead of profit: “We’ve probably had 3,000 people apply to start a chapter for the last four years. And then of that, we’ve accepted maybe 250 or something and then 50 have probably changed over.”

Unexpectedly for the organisation, Gibraltar with a total population of less than 10% of a small U.S. chapter has matched average attendance with high-level speakers, content, marketing, venue and consistency of events making us the best new chapter this year and receiving the Chapter Director “Rookie of the Year 2018” Award.

There was also the excitement of meeting the likes of Walt Mossberg widely credited with pioneering the modern, consumer-focused technology review and commentary, who for over 20 years was the principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

The CEO of Booking.com Gillian Tans was responsible for creating 50+ Women in Tech Office Hours for the first time this year, connecting aspiring female leaders during the conference. Lastly, Steve Huffman, CEO and Co-Founder of Reddit. The speakers I met in person at Fox Theatre Main Stage on the first day were truly inspiring.

So back to Gib; a year in and are we making progress? It seems that way, recently Philip Young, Marketing Director of the GSX Group announced plans for the GSX Blockchain Innovation Centre (bic.gi). The initiative will support emerging innovation and entrepreneurship in its early stages.

The platform will bring together industry entrepreneurs, support services and legal experts working in partnership to facilitate breakthroughs within the global Blockchain community. The fact that Gibraltar is a favourable jurisdiction with the DLT Regulatory Framework makes it the perfect home for upcoming companies.

The Regulation itself has attracted global attention and local service providers are being overwhelmed with requests for advice and incorporation of these businesses locally. There is an urgent need to provide more infrastructures to support them. This will not just be a positive initiative for the thriving industry; it is an essential part of it.

Entrepreneurship is instrumental to the economic growth and development. The right environment nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and innovators through training programmes, mentorship and investment are necessary for start-ups to achieve sustainable growth and development. Research from the Kauffman Foundation puts into perspective just how important they are “between 1980 and 2005, all net job growth emanated from companies fewer than five-years-old. When it comes to how to best reverse an economic downturn, about the only thing you might find politicians agreeing on is the importance of supporting small businesses.” Start-ups all over the globe are generating billions to local economies.

A year of running the events series is full of challenges locally; changing socio-economic mindsets and lack of support or funding. This will not hinder the determination to keep communicating and reinventing because the stats are there, start-ups have a positive impact on the economy and I am an advocate for that with a start-up of my own.

To those who sponsor and attend, thank you.

For more information on local events visit startupgrind.com/gibraltar.