Startup Grind Europe: Melting Pot For Innovations

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On June 15th Startup Grind Europe invited founders, startup enthusiasts & notable speakers into the heart of London. Here's what happened:

“We complain a lot about things in society; smart people have figured out solutions that might solve these problems.” – Eric Schmidt

Startup Grind EuropeFor myself, this statement signified the purpose of Startup Grind Europe. “What problems are you solving?”, resounds Startup Grind founder Derek Andersen regularly throughout the day. This was the most endearing aspect of the event; it set its attendants challenging questions to leave with as well as further solidifying the purpose of the Startup Grind community: bringing entrepreneurs together to share on how they can change the world.

Speakers: Rethinking How To Do Business

Of all the speakers, some stood out especially for their demonstration of diligence in their careers, one example being William Shu of popular delivery service, Deliveroo. A man of many talents – Shu has pretty much done all the jobs that there are in the company, including food deliveries. “When you have three people in the company you don’t really know what strategy means; you just get shit done.” This perseverance highlights his relentless attitude to making his company work even through heavy fatigue, just to see the light at the end of the tunnel. From this, we can understand further how the world of startups isn’t always glamorous. For this reason, as Megan Quinn of Spark Capital later shared, getting the right people with the right mentalities (not CVs) can be incredibly difficult for these companies to survive.

A new member of the unicorn club, Eventbrite, lent Startup Grind Europe its co-founder, Julia Hartz. This short segment allowed us to see the infectious charisma of someone who took her company through bootstrapping with her husband to one of Forbes’ best companies in the world to work for. Hartz discussed Eventbrite’s mission to defy the typical standards of corporate culture on a worldwide scale across their 8 cities around the globe. Upon growing she mentioned how “…you should respect and honour local office culture – bring it in rather than pushing out.” As one of the world’s most powerful business woman, Hartz shared her influence on the importance of role modelling in the office based on an organic 50/50 gender split. Diversity at Eventbrite is also crucial with Hartz stating: “Our company should look like the people we serve and the world.”

Cooperating As A Community

Startup Grind Europe

One of the most sought after interviewees, Eric Schmidt received a standing ovation upon arrival to the stage for his fireside discussion with Startup Grind owner Derek Andersen. The chairman of Alphabet Inc. [quoted at the start of this article] really assisted the inspiration-awaiting entrepreneurial vessels in the room by offering solid expectations and advice on how to manage leaders and how to cooperate as a community. His expertise was simple:

  1. Let intelligent people debate issues to come to a solution,
  2. don’t view business as a zero-sum game with winners and losers – congratulate other members of your community and
  3. the great leaders are frugal and take feedback.

This last piece of knowledge was supported with his suggestion for the audience to find mentors or coaches and him notably mentioning: “Don’t tennis players have coaches?” His segment was this first stage in a humbling process before Startup Grinds Europe’s final keynote: Scott Harrison.

Clearly anticipating the following final keynote, the stage lights were set to low to emphasise the mood to soon be created by Scott Harrison of charity:water. After spending years as a Manhattan club promoter with problems with “everything but heroin”, Harrison traded in his morally and spiritually bankrupt life to work on hospital ships in Liberia. After witnessing the effects of the aftermath of Charles Taylor’s corrupt rule, he set out to fix a solvable but under-looked problem in the developing world: accessible, clean and drinkable water. “Water changes everything” is what he showed through his organization, charity:water’s work in communities across Africa. With charity:water, Harrison has set out to provide a 100% impact model to demonstrate how donors can assist sustainable change in developing communities in accessing water. I looked round to see barely an affected face in the audience during Harrison’s harrowing but honest account of this venture. Whilst maybe not a typical “startup”, it sets out to find a tangible solution – and many there are.

The world of startups inspires confidence in the entrepreneurial ambitions of individuals and is continuing to create many influential leaders of business, technology and many other fields. I had the pleasure of engaging with many inspiring people from various different ventures based in London and wider, all there to simply connect. Startup Grind Europe achieved its goal of inspiring its audience to think wider, act smarter and connect together.

Startup Grind Europe


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Photo Credit: Startup Grind Europe