Startup Grind is a powerful and focused global initiative that started out as a super small, unpopular even, meet up idea on the side of co-founder Derek Andersen’s metaphorical desk. Now, events are held globally (250 cities in 110 countries) in support of connecting startups and entrepreneurs.
The Startup Grind Barcelona conference 2017 was a first. A union of ambitious entrepreneurs who dream of life in the Valley, and a thoroughly cool line up of cosy ‘fireside chats’ (speakers and facilitators to you and me), many of whom now know there’s more to life than San Francisco.
an investment opportunity
Launching EXHALE can’t be compared to launching a startup. But what I originally expected to be an opportunity to hand out business cards turned into an investment in my own energy and enthusiasm to keep doing what I’m doing, and to believe in and manifest growth. Commercially, psychologically, emotionally. It also gave me the opportunity I’d been looking for to go wild with social commentary throughout the day. Live tweeting events, quickly curating, cropping and publishing engaging content, definitely deserves a chapter in my career history.
key take outs
Strong positioning, shit-hot messaging and cultural values all shared the limelight at Startup Grind Barcelona conference 2017. Company culture and values develop organically in any startup environment, and they can quickly become market differentiators if they really reflect in your product or service’s design. Transitioning to over 150 employees and taking those values with you, or equally ditching the behaviours that aren’t conducive to growth, is challenging, but often crucial.
differentiate yourself with design
Carina Szpilka, co-founder of K FUND Venture Capital, stood out, not only as one of the few women on the stage, but because of what she had to say about culture, values, and design. “In any startup, culture and values are important from the beginning. Next is design. Not just the UX design, but design as a methodology of working, creating processes and thinking. Through design, you can differentiate yourself.” The connection between culture and design, then, is glaringly obvious, and is why both form key elements of any brand strategy, regardless of company size. I’ve talked about brand, design and buying decisions before.
find your tribe
Listening to Chris Schultz, partner at Launch Pad, was another highlight for me and brilliantly showcased what Startup Grind is achieving. “Community is about finding your tribe. Through positivity and support, we will create a lift.” Schultz expanded on growth strategy, infrastructure and opportunity, sharing his own mission for Launch Pad to enable people to be ‘incredibly globally connected’. Perhaps your winning segment isn’t world domination (yet), but incredibly connected is something that should feature in everyone’s go-to-market strategy.
survival is key
To finish Andersen explained when the tipping point moment happened for Startup Grind, and his initial reaction to dismiss it entirely. “This guy said to me ‘we need your values, your community, and what you do’.” Are your customers driving your expansion and saying that about you? Are you doing the right things in the first place to even enable them to say that about you? And on entrepreneurship, Startup Grind co-founder, Andersen, added, “if you can survive long enough until you get a few yes’s, it’s incredibly rewarding.”
This is just a short summary of my experience here in Barcelona, enhanced significantly by unflappable host, facilitator and Regional Director for Startup Grind, Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit. For more commentary check out @exhalebarcelona. And yes, I did write this sat on the beach with my dachshund, because we’re all in BCN for the sun and not necessarily the state it belongs to.
Here’s to Startup Grind. Here’s to entrepreneurs everywhere. Here’s to yes.