“Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Harnessing Experience from 40+ Countries” was held on Thursday, June 27, at the Ledra Palace Hotel, amplified with the talks by the experts Glenn Robinson and Cliff Zintgraff from the USA. The panellists from the University of Texas at Austin’s IC2 Center were invited by and with the contributions of the US Embassy in Cyprus.
The panel discussion aimed at giving bits of advice to the local entrepreneurs and researchers helping to find ways to identify markets and customers and assess markets effectively to short run success within the competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Glenn Robinson is the managing director of the Global Commercialization Group and of a technology business accelerator programme in South India called Accelerate Andhra Pradesh. Robinson has working experiences at worldwide known companies such as Sun Microsystems, Dell and Apple. Started working within the IC2 Institute 11 years now, where he managed programmes in Chile, South Korea, Japan, India, Mexico and Colombia.
Cliff Zintgraff, a computer scientist, is a programme manager at the Global Commercialization Group. He has been working within the institute since he joined the Masters of Science and Technology Commercialization programme at the time it was run by the IC2 Institute. He focuses on inquiry learn and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education, how people learn and he applies them across different fields such as entrepreneurship, technology, and commercialization.
“We found a tremendous amount of passion”
“We got a really productive and effective set of meetings, giving us a well-rounded view of the local ecosystem, which gives a chance to really rub shoulders for some of the thought leaders and entrepreneurs on both sides of Cyprus. We found a tremendous amount of passion, and drive and interest in understanding commercialisation and then how entrepreneurs in other rooms of the ecosystem take that and spread through Cyprus.”
“I paid special attention to what goes on in Cyprus in that space. Programmes you are trying to bring STEM education to students and programmes that tie those experiences to the challenges of being experienced on the island. I think some of the challenges can be unifying force to bring people together in order to work on common challenges that anyone can look at and say this is really important thing for us to figure out us to solve. I am actually very encouraged by what I am seeing on this front. There is already a point, a place, level to integrate STEM education into the ecosystem very intentionally in a planned way. That has encouraged me and I hope more of that happens.”
Robinson, suggests forming strong relationships along with other entrepreneurs and creating networks.
“Look for people that you can impact. Be an example. Be positive. Look for others with whom you can team. ‘A rising tide raises all boats.’ Can you be the rising tide, you as a young entrepreneur here in Cyprus? Can you be that person that makes the difference? Are you going to solve the entire problem alone? I hope so, but likely not. You need others around you, who are like-mind.”
“What we heard multiple participants in the ecosystem is there is what has been termed as ‘trader mentality’ here so that is part of the DNA of the Cypriot culture. Buying and selling things. So you are ahead in lot of ways of some cultures which do not have that culture. Cypriot entrepreneurs should take the advantage of that skill set. Redefine the definition of what innovation might be.”
“The advice that I would offer to anyone who comes in within our orbit is, focus on need, and what we mean by that focus on the market. Focus on the customers. In any kind of business, regardless of what situation you are in, really focus on, hear the needs around you. Figure out ways to meet those needs. And if you do that, you are hard to ignore.”
“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey.”
“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. The biggest threat to an entrepreneur is social pressure. Parents, friends who say “look get a real job, make some money, quit playing around with this technology. You are wasting your time” or “get married and have a family” in some cases “and then you can go back to this if you have time”. That is a hard when to deal with. Having been through that myself, stay the course. Entrepreneurship is not for everybody.
“Get with others of like-mind. Collaborate and look for opportunities to compare and contrast your offers. And then look for the opportunity to expand your thinking. Is the market that I identified the right one? Or based on what I have seen with whom I have spoken with maybe there is an alternative market or an opportunity to pivot?”
“Talk to lots of people, be very nice and give good service. If you do those 3 things you can be successful in attracting customers.”