As we close Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011 and Startup Weekend’s Global Startup Battle, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some lessons in leadership that emerged during the past 2 weeks.
First of all, I humbled to have an amazing opportunity to lead the Global Entrepreneurship Week activities for Startup Weekend, where 60 communities all over the world worked to build over 700 startups in just two weekends! Each community produced one winner and that winner competed in the Global Startup Battle, which ran from November 21 to November 28, 2011. This was a competition hosted on Startup Weekend’s Facebook Fan page, which collectively garnered over 36,000 votes.
Secondly, I also had an opportunity to meet with startups from China and Hong Kong, and help run the Shanghai and Shenzhen Startup Weekend events. This experience, coupled with the excitement of Global Entrepreneurship Week has given me a different perspective on what a leadership is.
Here are three lessons in leadership that I gleaned from observing and participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Week:
Leaders Build Communities – Leaders recognize that their business is a small piece in a much bigger community/ecosystem. The winner of the Global Startup Battle, Awesome Ship, from Hong Kong, realized that in order for them to win the battle, they needed to galvanize their entire community. With the help of Ben Crox, the organizer of BarCamp HK, they were able to recruit their peers from Startup Weekend to help rock the vote.
Leaders See the Big Picture – Now with the help of their peers from Startup Weekend, the Awesome Ship team pushed the message that winning the Global Startup Battle would be a triumph for Awesome Ship, but more importantly, a triumph for Post 80’s Gen Y’s in Hong Kong (who are branded as lacking the “Hard working spirit” of their predecessors). This messaging spread like wildfire throughout the Hong Kong startup community, getting press coverage in the six major news publications in Hong Kong, which ultimately sealed their position as the top runner in the competition.
Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Roll Up Their Sleeves – Real leaders do whatever it takes to make their startup work. During the Global Entrepreneurship week Startup Weekend events I heard countless stories about how true leaders rolled up their sleeves and built working prototypes, and then hit the streets to show their prototypes to potential customers. Sometimes they returned finding that their assumptions were wrong and worked through the night to build something new – often times finding an even better product-market fit. Startups are not built from behind an spreadsheet, startups are built by leaders unafraid of getting their hands dirty.
Even though the Global Entrepreneurship Week is over, these leaders live on to push their communities ahead. Can’t wait for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012!
Post contributed by Ahmed Siddiqui, who coordinates Startup Weekend events in the San Francisco Bay Area, and also founder of Go Go Mongo!, a game company that inspires kids to eat healthier. He can be reached through twitter: @siddiquiahmed