Guest bloggers: Grad students Terrence Pong and Maria Telleria on behalf of the GSW 2012 team
Want to find out the latest in innovation strategies? Interested in meeting world-renowned entrepreneurs to discuss the startup landscape and your startup ideas? Looking to expand your network on a global scale?
Then the 15th MIT Global Startup Workshop (MIT GSW) is the conference for you. MIT GSW is the world’s premier workshop dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and building entrepreneurial ecosystems globally. This year, it will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. MIT students, in conjunction with the MIT Enterprise Forum of Turkey and Turkey’s leading Ozyegin and Sabanci Universities, bring you three days packed with networking opportunities, discussions led by leading entrepreneurs, and the first-ever Startup Showcase. The workshop brings together over 300 participants from over 70 nations; participants include entrepreneurial leaders, executives, next-generation entrepreneurs, professors, financiers, students, and government officials.
The MIT Global Startup Workshop (MIT GSW) was founded in 1997 when the MIT $50K (now $100K) Entrepreneurship Competition received numerous queries from around the world from organizations interested in starting and improving their own business plan competitions (BPCs). The first MIT GSW was held on campus in March 1998 and brought together an international community committed to launching BPCs to stimulate and nurture entrepreneurship worldwide.
A decade later, having helped grow and mature the BPC community, the MIT GSW expanded its mission to include all aspects of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Today we continue to build stronger, more productive entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world and a diverse and dynamic global support network for entrepreneurs.
How Do Students Pull this Off?
Each year, the all-student GSW team organizes panels to address region-specific challenges over three days. As soon as one conference concludes, preparation gets underway for the next GSW. Through a competitive bidding process, organizations, universities, and governments from around the world make their pitch on how the GSW could help to inspire and foster interest in entrepreneurship in their country. The team then travels to the host country to conduct site visits and meet with the local team.
Once the host country has been chosen, the MIT team focuses on the main issues that impact the entrepreneurial ecosystem in and around the host country. They invite keynote speakers, identify promising young entrepreneurs, and mobilize a growing group of active GSW alumni to make the next conference a success. The content is designed entirely by the student-run team with individual graduate and undergraduate students taking charge of organizing panel sessions, case studies, or networking sessions.
Running the conference exposes the team to wide-reaching experiences that truly live up to the Global Startup Workshop name. In the past, the team has coordinated the conference in South Korea using the local Hangul (Korean) standard keyboards, organized a gala dinner in an ancient Castle in Cape Town, and rubbed elbows with the president of Iceland in the midst of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption.
The theme of the 2012 workshop is Directions for Innovation, and discussions will focus on new technological directions, ways of addressing a global market, and the relationships among entrepreneurs, investors, and supporting organizations. Turkey, situated at the crossroads of civilizations with its own vibrant economy, young population, and a fast-growing consumer market, is poised to be a regional hub for entrepreneurship and investment. Istanbul, spanning East to West, is an inspiring location for this year’s MIT GSW.
Special Application Deadlines
The Startup Showcase is an unrivaled marketing opportunity for startups at all stages and offers attendees the opportunity to highlight their products and services to the entire conference. This is your chance to show your idea to potential customers and investors as well as to receive feedback from fellow entrepreneurs. Applications for a spot in the Startup Showcase are due Feb. 15.
The GSW fellowship is meant to encourage new entrepreneurs to attend the conference by covering the registration and accommodation costs for up to 10 budding entrepreneurs. Applicants must present a compelling story of how they plan to contribute to entrepreneurial development in their region as well as to the GSW community. Applications are due Feb 8.
“The 2011 MIT GSW was such a turning point, both for my personal life and for my startup life. During the GSW I participated in the Elevator Pitch Contest, and I was able to pitch my idea to students, entrepreneurs, and VCs from all over the world. The connections I made there led me to apply for the startup accelerator MassChallenge and eventually to launch the first beta version of StyleShare for the international community.” —Jay, South Korea MIT GSW attendee
This year’s confirmed keynote speakers include:
- Iqbal Quadir (founder and director, MIT Legatum Center)
- Guler Sabanci (chairman, Sabanci Holding)
- Rakesh Malhotra (founder, SAR Group Companies)
- Hüsnü M. Özyeğin (founder, Finasbank)
Join this unique community, experience the dynamic forum, and help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Register today.