GSY: World’s brightest young minds gather to innovate
The 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which took place in Kuala Lumpur, was complemented by a host of other events to gather the many stakeholders of an innovation ecosystem. One of these events was Global Startup Youth, a 3-day program involving about 500 youths aged 18-25 from 105 countries.
It was organized by Startup Malaysia with the help of UP Global and Startup Nations, and with the financial support of the US State Department. The 500 young leaders were selected based on an application submitted by Malaysians (250 places) and all other nationalities taking part (250 places too). During the GSY, they had to tackle 4 key issues listed under the UN’s Millennium Goals. The top finalists then got their minute of fame at the closing ceremony of the GES to present their ideas.
Marion Desmazières is both a delegate to GSY from Canada, where she’s doing her MBA, and a community builder as she has been helping UP Global to run their famous Startup Weekends in English and French speaking countries, in North America, Europe and Africa. She was also a curator for Startup Digest, another brick of UP Global’s ecosystem of collaborative tools which aims to provide local communities with an updated calendar of key tech events. She identifies herself as a connector and as such had been introduced to our team by several different contacts.
For Marion, this first GSY is like a shorter version of a Startup Weekend (with about 20h of work – mentoring, presentations and networking time for the youth as opposed to 54h for the typical startup weekend).
The teams were grouped by the organizers to mix their skills and nationalities so as to accelerate disruption and innovative ideas. In her group, Marion found herself to be among the oldest, and found it challenging to “manage” a group of participants aged 19-20 (attendees to Startup Weekends are usually slightly more experienced, sometimes arriving as an existing team willing to test a new feature or meet with mentors). “They sometimes don’t have this mindset of “getting shit done””.
How to build an innovation ecosystem bottom-up?
Marion also explains how UP Global is like a three-storey rocket that facilitates entrepreneurship from the field level.
- First, with Startup Weekend, they have been instrumental in providing both a training ground for aspiring entrepreneurs and a meeting point for the rest of the startup ecosystem (mentors, VCs and investors, tech brands which sponsor the venue and organization, jury, speakers…).
- Then, with Next, UP Global provides a pre-incubation stage for successful startup weekenders willing to go further with their teams, with a 5-week, part-time access to mentors and a roadmap to go from customer discovery to fundability and eventually market entry. The program is under the guidance of Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur now teaching at Stanford.
- Finally, as it was officially announced during the 4th GES, a new partnership will now associate UP global and the US State Department to provide 500 000 entrepreneurs in 1 000 cities with advanced access to mentorship and investors. Startup Weekend, the core program of UP Global, has already joined forces with Startup America in May 2013, one of Obama’s answers to the financial crisis aimed at fostering entrepreneurial communities in the country (Thanks Marion for the correction!).
Back at GSY, you can really feel how all the parts of the startup ecosystems are efficiently gathered, and how inspiring and energizing the 500 youths are, with large smiles and a disarming ease meeting complete strangers within Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s corridors and rooms.
A Milestone for “Milestone”, the winning team at Global Startup Youth 2013
At the end of the day, the winning team among the 40-ish competing delivered an almost perfect pitch in the impressive plenary hall of the convention center. A team of 9, with several of them taking the mic without any flaw, offered a website/app called Milestone. It helps young people who do not know how to turn their dreams into reality.
Milestone helps anyone find people with relevant skills within his/her LinkedIn extended network. Then, Milestone turns into a personal CRM by facilitating the acquaintance, keeping the conversation engaging and helping to maintain progress step by step in the fast-paced and sometimes volatile environment of social networks.
All winners will go to the Silicon Valley to further their projects, thanks to both the GSY organization, which offered 3 seats, and a VC from Intellectual Ventures who attended the pitch and decided to pay for the tickets for the rest of the team.
This was the first ever Global Youth Startup organized by Startup Malaysia and its dynamic founder, Dash Dhakshinamoorthy. This proves how both youth and diversity are key drivers for innovation.
Check out our report on Malaysia innovation ecosystem on Slideshare too