The Epidemic is Spreading

There’s no stopping it. People everywhere are realizing who actually changes the world. It isn’t politicians. It’s entrepreneurs, makers and innovators.


What a special gift these last 48 hours have been. Just landed back in London after mentoring at Startup Live Cyprus.

Often I’m invited to do speeches or fly-by mentoring sessions with young entrepreneurs. But this time in Cyprus was different. I was rolling up my sleeves, digging in, and spending hours upon hours with the teams working side by side trying to create and solve. It had substance. Depth. The impact was real. I’ve created new friendships that should last forever.

One of the teams was working on a messaging app for vets & pet owners. Kinda like my friend Mckay’s startup FirstOpinion, except for pet owners/vets. The guy in the middle is a vet… the team hustled to do customer development.

Unemployment among young people (recent grads) in Cyprus is almost 30%. But they aren’t giving up. They are fighting their way through it, one day at a time… one startup at a time. It was incredibly fulfilling, motivating and inspiring to be among them.

There were some great projects being worked on at the event: drones for agriculture (pesticides, etc), airbnb for babysitting, messaging between pet owners & vets for instant advice, theknot but in Europe (wedding planning), Trip advisor but for Eco-tourism (many teams were working on green/sustainable ideas). Solid ideas that could definitely find a market somewhere.

I didn’t expect the next Facebook to be born out of the event. It wasn’t about that. Most importantly it was about helping them learn and feel comfortable with the startup process. It was about getting them excited about entrepreneurship, making connections with fellow creators, and catching the startup bug. For many in attendance, it was the first exposure to the startup world. I think it important that they have a positive first experience. I believe they did. Well done to those who helped organize this event. Well done!

Some entrepreneurs that were at Startup Live Cyprus were from other countires. Here are some from Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. I spent some time with the one on the right — she is super impressive. Already has a business with revenue (elance for Middle East).

Since moving to Europe I’ve had the opportunity to visit various countries and meet and mentor local entrepreneurs (Romania, Portugal, Estonia, Cyprus). I continue to be impressed with these little corners of the world filled with dreamers and doers who are hustling and building and making. Many of them don’t have great infrastructure or guidance or capital to find break-out success quite yet. But that is changing. The more I meet these amazing people, the more I feel compelled to make this part of my mission. Innovation can and should be happening from all over the world. I believe that brilliance and raw talent is equally distributed (partly why I invested in Andela). So many people out there are hungry and motivated and ready. These areas (and many more) are at the cusp of something special.

The startup epidemic continues to spread. There’s no stopping it. People everywhere are realizing who actually changes the world. It isn’t politicians. It’s entrepreneurs, makers and innovators. Join us if you haven’t already. It’s happening.

Me with a few other mentors from Germany. It was also great meeting amazing mentors.
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