The Google for Startups EMEA Summit 2017
Dogpatch Labs just wrapped up the 3 day long 2017 Google for Startups EMEA Summit which involved 8 other tech hubs from across Europe and the Middle East. When I first began helping plan the Summit on my first day at Dogpatch as a Partners Associate, I understood its purpose and mission. However, it wasn’t until its start when I felt the palpable excitement and eagerness all of the members had to spitball solutions to the problems, collaborate with one another on strengthening their network and mingle with people trying to shape startup culture in their respective ecosystems.
To optimally share best practices, Dogpatch Labs curated the content of the Summit to fit pressing needs expressed by the attending hubs. Each hub lead a presentation and discussion on the area they excel in such as Diversity and Inclusion, Community Management, and Corporate Innovation. Through collaboration and thought diversity, the hubs shaped the Summit.
Day 1 : Summit Kickoff
We began the first day with a lunch at Dogpatch followed by a tour of the ‘Silicon’ Docklands which ended at Google’s EMEA Headquarters. We had a kickoff speech from Paddy Flynn, Google Director who leads Ireland startup engagement; James Allen, who is involved with the startups Google supports; and Nicole Froker, Google For Startups Partnership Manager. The kickoff speech detailed how Google Ireland and Dogpatch work together to foster the Irish tech ecosystems through programs like First Fridays for Startups. Nicole then talked about updates Google For Startups had.
Hearing from Google how it engages with startups was an interesting way to begin the summit because Google For Startups is the reason our summit exists (#meta). Tech Hubs can serve as a conduit for a powerhouse like Google to impact and help startups, so hearing about our role in this relationship from Google emphasized our importance.
We then welcomed Iarla Flynn, Google’s Northern European Director of Public Policy, for an interactive Google policy talk on partner hubs’ ecosystem and engaging policy makers across their respective markets.
After our time at Google, we went on a walking tour of EPIC Ireland, a tech-based Irish emigration museum housed in the CHQ. As an American, I was particularly interested to see Irish-Americans’ paths to America but seeing emigration paths among others from 10+ countries was an incredibly enriching experience– Ireland’s impact around the globe was compounded with each person’s own interaction with EPIC depending on their identity.
Following EPIC, we came back to Dogpatch and had drinks, a long table dinner and ice breakers in the urban garden. Bonds were forming over Irish cheeses; spirits were high throughout the night. It was a wonderful way to end the first day of the summit.
Day 2 : Values, Community, Operations, and Diversity
The second day jumped right into content modules, starting with Values, Vision and Mission led by Filip Valusiak of Factory Berlin. TechHub London’s Andrew Tibbitts discussed community management. Astrolabs’ Zaen Hamid continued with same topic and Dogpatch’s operations team presented and lead a discussion on operations over lunch.
TQ and NUMA talked about Entrepreneurial Programming both hubs excel in, which snowballed into discussions where hubs talked about their own programming and coming together to think of other initiatives that could be successful. The modules concluded with Gaza Sky Geeks inspiring and enriching discussion on how they operationalize diversity in the context of Gaza and their tech ecosystem. Right before we headed into Dublin’s city center, Liz from Dogpatch talked about her experience at Blackbox Connect, which is captured in her blogpost.
Presentations quickly slipped in and out of discussions. Wheels turned on each person’s face; it was amazing how ideas organically emerged and shaped on another’s thoughts– evolution and learning was immediately apparent.
Our evening activities in the city began with a fascinating tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum. Did you know the saying ‘saved by the bell’ began because so many drunk Irish people were mistakenly buried alive after passing out from drinking that they built bells in caskets so those buried alive can ring it and be dug up?!
We continued with the Irish tradition by eating a dinner at Boxty’s, a restaurant that has a catch phrase of ‘Totally Irish’ (so you know it is the real deal). After each course, we played musical chairs to have conversations with as many people as possible. The highlight of my conversations was when Robert Gaal, Managing Director of TQ Amsterdam, called boxty, an Irish potato pancake, a tortilla.
Following dinner, some went to Irish pubs for a pint of the black stuff, some chose to hit the hay. Following the exhausting day, I called it a night and chose the latter but heard the tales of debauchery the following morning!
Day 3 : Corporate Innovation, Breakouts, Data Strategies & Wrap Up
I led the last day with a meditation session, which set a mindful and rejuvenating tone to the morning. The first module was on corporate innovation during which Impact Hub and Epicenter talked about initiatives they both had in their hubs.
After that, we went into smaller breakout sessions based on topics people wanted to cover and dive deep on but did not have enough time to get to. Following the breakout, we came together to share key learnings and come up with follow ups we can all contribute to after the summit is over.
The last modules were lead by Nicole from Google For Entrepreneurs on Data Strategies and Strengthening the Google For Entrepreneurs Network. The latter one particularly was filled with takeaway points and deliverables for each person to complete to further inspire cohesion throughout the network and leverage each other’s positions and experience.
The summit resulted in two key takeaways: the EMEA Parters Exchange Program and Community Hangout Sessions. For the Partners Exchange Program, each EMEA Partner Hubs has decided to send and host one staff member to/from another EMEA Partner Hub for one week to learn best practices at an expert hub in the next year (e.g. James from Dogpatch Labs will go to Factory Berlin for a week to learn about Factory’s content team). We have also decided that each month, one hub will host a Google Hangout with the EMEA Partner Network on a topic they lead (e.g. TQ Amsterdam will be hosting a Google Hangout on Entrepreneurial Programming on April 28). We want to ensure hubs continue to share their learnings post-summit and virtually strengthen the network, so we are really excited to welcome these initiatives!
Overall, the summit was an incredible time. Being able to openly discuss and issue and have others who are in similar positions offer their perspective and experience with similar issues was extremely helpful and rewarding.
When working in an entrepreneurial environment, it is incredibly easy to feel like you are entirely alone grappling with a problem no one has experienced before, but these get togethers with hubs make you realize you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just need to find others who have.