Global Entrepreneurship Summit Insights

The HP LIFE team was at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University, June 22-24, 2016. GES was created by President Obama because he understands that global economic prosperity is driven by entrepreneurship and contributes to peace and optimism. But while innovation and creativity is universal, access to capital is not. GES is a showcase for enabling collaboration between entrepreneurs and investors from around the world, who came together to highlight how entrepreneurship can address some of the global challenges we face today, like health care, sustainability and economic instability.

The summit was ‘invite only’ and over 5000 entrepreneurs submitted applications. Over 680 entrepreneurs from 170 countries /territories and 328 investors from 65 countries/territories attended. This year GES was hosted in Silicon Valley to highlight Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit and share available global talent, solutions, and opportunities. GES 2016 is the 7th summit and the first in the United States.

The summit included a wide range of workshops, panels, ignite talks, pitch competitions, mentoring, and networking sessions. We wanted to bring interesting business ideas, entrepreneurial advice and GES insights to our HP LIFE users.

Inspiring business ideas

GES was full of inspiring people and exciting business pursuits. Some of our favorites:

  • - Creating a solar power community where individuals can buy shares. Individuals may not be able to buy solar panels due to where they live or the costs. This allows individuals to buy solar power, reduce their electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions. (US)

  • - Train underprivileged women to be web and software developers and connect them with employers. The training programs lasts 6 months and 60% of the women that complete the program are employed. (Latin America)

  • - Provide access to alternative fuels to use instead of charcoal and firewood. Waste is collected and turned into briquettes and biogas for cooking fuel. (Rwanda)

  • - Online learning with special tools and features for users with disabilities.

  • - Using rice husks to treat water for heavy metals (arsenic) to make drinking water safer (Bangladesh)

  • - A web app to improve literacy and spelling in the Caribbean (Jamaica)

  • - Creating clubs for women to exercise and socialize (Turkey)

  • - Creating fertilizer from waste to improve fertility of the land and improve crops (Kenya, Tunisia)

Advice from GES entrepreneurs

GES was a great forum for an exchange of ideas and sharing lessons learned. Some of the great advice we heard:

  • - Look for a need and a gap that no one is filling

  • - It is more important to do something good than to be someone

  • - Luck = readiness + opportunity. Get ready so you can deliver, don’t waste an opportunity.

  • - Believe in yourself and your idea, don’t let others discourage you

  • - Don’t present your product or service as a prototype that isn’t working yet; rather, focus on what your product or your service will someday achieve

  • - You can’t do everything yourself, use partners that believe in your vision

  • - Entrepreneurship is a hard journey full of ups and downs. Don’t give up.

  • - It is more important to do something good than to be someone

GES commitments and insights

GES Commitments announced at the summit

Our entrepreneur's story

Annoir Ennouri came to GES from Tunisia to pitch a simple but brilliant idea: he wants to reuse coffee grounds as super powered biogenic compost for olive and almond trees. The HP LIFE team sat down with him to capture his thoughts on perseverance, failing forward, and the power of entrepreneurial thinking.

Tell us who you are, how you became an entrepreneur and what your business is.

I’m from Tunisia, where my family is involved in agriculture. I trained in information technology, but found myself returning to my agricultural roots when I began to pursue the idea of The Coffee Tree.

In Tunisia we drink a lot of coffee and the grounds go to landfill, but in fact the pH balance of coffee grounds is perfect for not just composting, but for the living organisms, like worms, that thrive in compost. My business collects coffee grounds from cafes and use it to make agricultural additives for the almond and olive trees native to our region.

What advice would you give to other HP LIFE aspiring entrepreneurs?

I have a passion for knowledge and for sharing with others, and I am a startup coach. So I do have some insight to share.

One is, when you pitch an idea or share a project, think about what you’re sharing so that you are sharing the right things. Don’t present your product or service as a prototype that isn’t working yet; rather, focus on what your product or your service will someday achieve.

Two is, know your team and build as diverse a team as possible to address as many skill sets as possible. It’s fun and exciting to work with your best friend but that’s not enough, you need people on your team who offer fresh perspectives.

Three is, ask for help. When you don’t know what the answer is or you don’t have the answer, say so, and then go looking for it.

Did GES change your thinking about your business or about being an entrepreneur?

I was impressed with the endless creativity I saw here. There’s no limit to creativity, to creative ideas. Embrace creativity—there’s always a better idea. You can inject creativity into all aspects of your business, your whole process

What was one new thing you learned at GES?

Expect the unexpected. During my pitch round, my projector failed and I had no way to share my presentation. I knew it by heart, and I was able to get the facts across, but I didn’t perform the way I wanted to and didn’t win.

What would you tell your younger self—what do you know now about being an entrepreneur that you wished you knew when you were younger?

Trust yourself. Trust your guts, your instincts, your intuition. Jump on every opportunity, whether you can win or not. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t settle. Don’t waste any potential.