Fixing the Global Economy Through Entrepreneurship and Innovation

by / ⠀Startup Advice / April 26, 2012

Many of you have inquired about the announcement of Under30CEO Experiences and our Venture Tour to Iceland.  Below is the story by Under30CEO Co-founder Matt Wilson on how we are bringing twenty top young entrepreneurs on an adventure tour to the remote mountains to share their ideas for building sustainable startup ecosystems across the globe. 

This past month, as Ambassador to Wardour And Oxford‘s Climate Unchange project I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Iceland to study the affects of global warming on the ecosystem and the economy.  While our crew was there to ice climb on retreating glaciers, see the aurora borealis- northern lights, superjeep across volcanos, and meet with those who’s industries are being affected by climate change, what we found by speaking with local entrepreneurs was even more fascinating.

In 2007, Iceland’s economy was booming.  The little nation in the middle of the North Atlantic had the seventh most productive economy in the world per capita.  Michael Lewis even wrote a book chronicling fisherman and sheep herders quitting their jobs to become bankers, and Porsche’s being imported by the boatload to serve the nation of only 300,000.

Soon thereafter, Iceland became the first domino to fall in the global economic crisis.  The three largest banks in Iceland failed, and the nation’s currency lost two-thirds of it’s value.   Huge political upheaval called for reform and the nation fell into a deep recession.

Fixing The Global Economy Through Entrepreneurship

Whether you are solving a problem and creating a business, or solving a problems to fix an economy, everyone knows the catalyst for innovation lies in smart, hardworking people.  Lucky for Iceland, work ethic and education are ingrained in their incredibly proud and resilient entrepreneurs.

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Startup Iceland

To be honest, I thought of Iceland as a place for to trek across glaciers and volcanos, and was completely caught off guard by the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation.  In a single Saturday, after one quick tweet, I found myself hanging with venture investor Bala Kamallakharan, attending the country’s largest business plan competition, touring the city’s startup incubator, and having beers with the organizer of Iceland’s Startup Weekend.  We learned about the nation’s intent to build a sustainable startup ecosystem, organize the first ever Startup Iceland conference, and that the Techstars Global Network was launching in Reykjavik. They told us of eco-friendly companies who were creating their minimum viable product and using LEAN methodology, and how Iceland was the perfect test market with it’s small, well connected population, positioned exactly on the border of Europe and the Americas.

The leaders of Iceland truly believe that by building a community of entrepreneurs they’ll be able to build a sustainable economy.  We knew this was something we wanted to get involved in through Under30CEO.

Venture Tour Iceland

Our trip to Iceland was mind-blowing.  For two weeks we had been in the mountains on an amazing adventure, saw aftermath of volcanic eruptions, went canyoning, and skied on glacial peaks only accessible via snowmobile.  But, we weren’t just there on a fancy holiday, sitting on a beach drinking $14 cocktails and talking about ourselves like so many retreats out there; the whole time we were shooting a film to raise awareness for climate change.  Combining adventure travel with the opportunity to use our entrepreneurial skillsets to have impact on a global issue was a feeling that needed to be duplicated.  We needed to give more people that type of life changing experience and create a community of world changers.

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Together, our crew from Climate Unchange which included citizens of the UK, Sweden, Iceland, and the United States racked our brains to figure out how we could create an experience for others that was rich in both adventure and social good.  Iceland’s economic troubles had affected the entire world and we knew the grassroots movement towards entrepreneurship is certainly part of the solution to the global economy.  Could we use our experiences to help build sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems across the globe?

A Partnership Was Formed

The committee at Startup Iceland and South Iceland Adventure, quickly came on board to build an experience that offered a once in a lifetime learning, collaboration, and social entrepreneurship experience for everyone involved.  Together, we’ll host an excursion in Iceland for twenty top young entrepreneurs May 30-June 3.  

Not only will we pack in a ton of adventure, but we’ll examine the framework for startup communities and figuring out what best practices, methods, and strategies will work to build sustainable ecosystems for companies, not just in Iceland but across the globe.

The one-day 2012 Startup Iceland Conference will include:

  • Discussion with His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, The President of Iceland on the need for entrepreneurship and building sustainable communities.
  • Lesons from the Founder of Techstars Brad Feld building the entrepreneurial hotbed in Boulder, Colorado and his book Startup Communities: Creating A Great Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City.
  • Presentation by the Co-founder of Startup Malaysia Rebeca Hwang on our how her startup is building the startup world.

The three days in the backcountry will feature amazing adventure through Iceland during the day, and at night we’ll build a framework for sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems.  Including:

  • An Amazing Race style scavenger hunt across the volcanic region with superjeeps and mountain guides
  • Canyoning, hiking, and swimming in world famous Blue Lagoon
  • Viking culture campfire, teambuilding, and leadership briefing in mountains
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We really think the educational experience is something that will propel each entrepreneur personally to the next level, learning about entrepreneurship on a global scale and forming friendships with people from across the world.

For more information see: Venture Tour Iceland Agenda and to see the blog from our last social venture trip to Iceland check out our project on Climate Unchange.

To apply to retreat to Iceland email matt @ with a paragraph explaining how you’ll make impact by joining us on the inaugural Under30CEO Experience ASAP.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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