Anyone who read Jim Duffy’s piece in The Scotsman on Startup Summit last week will have gotten a sense of the excitement whipped up by hundreds in the startup community sharing their optimism about the future of enterprise in Scotland: from the First Minister’s compelling speech on how Scots can invent “the modern world to come”, to sessions from entrepreneurial leaders such as James Watt and Saasha Celestial-One exploring how far Scotland can progress and contribute to the global economy in the next ten years.
For the cynics among us, such optimism can seem pretty saccharine, conjuring up pictures of millennials instagramming themselves next to office terrariums, until you hear the success stories of entrepreneurs who swear that a positive outlook and an unwaveringly ambitious approach to solving a problems has led to vibrant, growing companies and quality employment. Nowhere was this more evident at Startup Summit, than on the Impact Stage.
Among the discussions was a recurring emphasis on how the Enterprise and Skills Review, City Region Deals and the Can Do movement are poised to contribute to a new era of startup support that - rather than proliferating what Scotland already does well - could attract a new generation of businesses that aim to have a positive impact on society from the get-go.
Chairman of the Entrepreneurial Scotland Chris van der Kuyl also pointed out that education can play an integral role in highlighting that how you do business is just as important as what you do, and that it's high time to find genuine joy in others’ successes. A refreshing point of a view at a moment in history when the polarisation of viewpoints seems to have left little room for compromise in business, media or politics, let alone altruism.
Startup Summit’s new Impact Stage also proved that the most successful entrepreneurs, or perhaps the happiest, are often the most unassuming. Few at Startup Summit will have been aware that Sameer Guglani, responsible for the most successful accelerator in India’s history, was on the Impact Stage discussing mindfulness in business; how we need to set ourselves free before we can help others and, again, the necessity for the right sort of education system to bring about any meaningful change.
So cynics beware, if this year was anything to go by, it looks like Startup Summit will remain an optimistic affair for many years to come, falling in love with one problem after the other and encouraging everyone to find joy in Scottish and international success stories.
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