Article by Nicola Crawford
I recently attended the Startup Summit 2017 and what a day it was!
Now, not only am I new to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Scotland, but this was also the first proper conference I have attended (yes, I am a very sheltered individual!). I am not the best person at conversations either so attending this was completely out of my comfort zone. However, we all have to start somewhere.
Speaking of conversations, it was really great to see several members of the Acorn Enterprise community on stage at the Summit!
Chris Marr (Content Marketing Academy) spoke about Content Marketing, Ekaterina Matveeva (Amolingua) and Michael Harkins (Turtle Pack) shared their inspiring journey with the audience, and our own Kallum with a K (Acorn Enterprise) was on a panel discussion, exploring “Support for Startups from Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”.
First Impressions of the Startup Summit
The first thing that struck me about the conference was the sheer level of engagement and delight. The atmosphere was buzzing, there was handshakes, hugging, laughter and great chit-chat! The conference fostered a real entrepreneurial community spirit, with the aim of achieving greater goals together.
The Startup Summit is an annual conference which takes place in Edinburgh every year. We have attended it for the last 4 years and it is always amazing! It’s organised by We Are the Future, which is a global entrepreneurship organisation, hosting international summits and programmes around the world to inspire and connect entrepreneurs.
Nicola Sturgeon (yes, she is a Marmite subject!), kicked off the Startup Summit with her speech to support entrepreneurs.
She revealed a £4million scheme called “Unlocking Ambition”, to support entrepreneurs from around the world and bring them to Scotland to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy here. A great move and refreshing to see even more encouragement from the Scottish government!
A common theme amongst the speakers at the Startup Summit was the focus on the culture within their businesses, rather than just skills. I am a big believer that CV’s are crap! I think we need to focus more on who the person is, rather than the skills listed on a CV, but that’s a story for another day.
James spoke about culture fit at Brewdog and how he has people running their pubs that have no industry experience whatsoever! He wants people in his company to come in with a different perspective and bring new ideas.
Employing someone who has 20 years pub experience might come in with a “this is the way it should be” attitude. And this could hold back the company rather than push it forward.
Culture fit over experience; attitude over skills.
It was great to see a range of companies really embracing culture as a core point of their business and honestly caring for the people that work for them, rather than just focusing on results.
Tackling the World’s Biggest Issues
On numerous occasions at the Startup Summit, the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals were mentioned. The message being that entrepreneurs are really tackling the world’s biggest issues and that, not only entrepreneurs, but everyone can do a lot more to tackle these issues. This is a fundamental point that needs be shouted about more!
We need to talk about what we are doing to tackle these issues on a wider scale. The more we do this, the more people who will get involved, resulting in more collaborative efforts to eradicate these challenges.
Communication and education is key! Coming at this as an outsider, I did not realise the scale of these efforts that are taking place. We need to do more to promote it.
Is the Education System Missing A Trick?
Here’s the thing that opened my eyes the most at the Startup Summit: education. I have not long finished my degree in Business Management and I did not know that this ecosystem even existed. Why?…
I did a bloody degree in business!!! There is huge opportunity for educational institutions to get involved in this ecosystem and get the students in.
I reckon in the future, entrepreneurs are going to be the real sneaky back bone of corporates and the entire business world so institutions should be looking to them for guidance now.
Not only that, entrepreneurs seriously want to help, so let them help!
Are institutions looking too much to “corporates” to shape their courses? Too much theory and not enough practical focus.
Entrepreneurs are making their own theories now…those that work. Education is slowly falling behind. If you want to improve the student experience, job prospects and skills, get talking to these inspiring entrepreneurs. There is so much opportunity here.
I had an absolute ball at the Startup Summit! It was inspiring and incredible, and it will be interesting to see where entrepreneurship heads in the future in Scotland. Exciting times!