Members of the StartUp Cup leadership team have just returned from the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Rio de Janeiro for a week-long immersion into the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. It was a time to reconnect with old friends, meet new friends, engage with our StartUp Cup organizers, and increase our understanding of how entrepreneurship is evolving around the globe.


Entrepreneurial Champions who participated in the StartUp Cup Entrepreneurship 2.0 Fringe Event.

GEC is an annual festival of entrepreneurship hosted by Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Kauffman Foundation. GEC 2012 was held in Liverpool, England and will be taking place in Moscow, Russia in 2014. It is the only event that I know of where the entire global ecosystem assembles at one time in one place. With delegates from over 135 countries in attendance, GEC truly showcases the power of entrepreneurship to support creating world peace.

StartUp Cup was well represented at GEC with organizers from Armenia, Georgia, Silicon Valley, Palestine, Paraguay, Myanmar, Zambia and Lebanon in attendance. And we welcomed new StartUp Cup organizers from Rio, Philippines, Korea, Norway, Cameroon, Morocco, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to our growing family of entrepreneurial community builders.

During the week there were over 70 events spread throughout Rio bringing together thought leaders in entrepreneurship including Brad Feld, co-founder of TechStars, Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of and Thom Rue, Vice President of Entrepreneurship with the Kauffman Foundation. New programs were introduced, including World StartUp Cup, The Ice House, Idea Challenge, and World Startup Report.

Many of the excellent entrepreneur programs we have come to know such as Startup Weekend, Cleantech Open, Creative Business Cup, Global Startup Battle, Endeavor (a GEC host) were also well represented. However, we could not help but notice that with so many programs focused on growing high growth technology companies, and with less than 2% of these startups receiving funding from angels, accelerators, or venture capitalists, the remaining 98% of non-tech and non-experienced entrepreneurs continue to be highly underserved.

As the StartUp Cup team has increased its travels around the world to train and mentor entrepreneurs, we have noticed that in a majority of cases entrepreneurial ecosystems are starting to look very similar and are focusing a majority of their programming on high-tech, high growth, fundable companies. According to the Small Business Administration only 0.1% to 0.2% of all startups in the U.S. secure venture capital funding. Not surprisingly, on a global level we are not experiencing a huge increase in new startups and, in many cases, there is a decline in startups and entrepreneurial activity.

As a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur I can see how the mindset for encouraging fast, high growth technology companies has grown. Worldwide media are focused on high growth, high-tech, “sexy” companies, not the smaller “lifestyle” entrepreneurs who make up the backbone of our local communities. However, if we are truly going to move the needle and increase the overall number of startups, and as a result job growth, it is time for all of the drivers and champions who are active in growing their local entrepreneurial ecosystems to start thinking different about how we launch entrepreneurs and grow sustainable new businesses.


Participants in the Entrepreneurship 2.0 Fringe Event were graphically facilitated through a brainstorm on the challenges of building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and how to overcome these challenges.

The main concept of Entrepreneurship 2.0 is to start including EVERYONE into the entrepreneurial journey. This includes those with little or no education, little to no experience starting or building a business, and those who merely have a good business idea. This can be accomplished by arming aspiring entrepreneurs with the entrepreneurial mindset, skills, tools, and mechanics of how to design and build a sustainable business. Entrepreneurship is not just for University students, technology entrepreneurs, and the experienced entrepreneurs who receive the 0.1% of venture capital funding.

As Alexandre Franco of Brasil said during our GEC Entrepreneurship 2.0 | Taking Your Ecosystem to the Next LevelFringe Event, “I have been to many entrepreneurship events in Brasil and each time the focus is on technology startups. As a result I have felt left out, frustrated, and feel like nobody cares about my startup.” At StartUp Cup we are focused on changing this paradigm and increasing the number of people who gain access to the opportunity to learn how to design a viable business model, bootstrap a startup, and build a sustainable business no matter what type of business idea they have, tech or non-tech.

Alex Franco became so excited by the notion of StartUp Cup he applied to become organizer of the Rio StartUp Cup, our newest business model competition open to ANY type of business idea. GEC is inspiring champions of entrepreneurship to think differently about how entrepreneurial ecosystems and communities are grown. We look forward to continuing our message of total and complete entrepreneurial inclusion during GEC Moscow in 2014. I will be writing more about the Entrepreneurship 2.0 concept in future posts.