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Startups worldwide break through a global pandemic and recession with Draper Startup House’s first online conference

“In challenging times, our strengths are put to the test. At breaking point, we are defined by how we deal with pressure. Some break and others break through.” 

From sudden border closures to countries going into “lockdown”, panic, fear, and uncertainty was becoming the norm. Amidst a global pandemic, Draper Startup House responded by hosting a global virtual conference that garnered over 10,000 views worldwide with less than two weeks of planning. 

Breakthrough 2020 aimed to provide entrepreneurs support and guidance in dealing with pressure and overcoming challenging times. Packed with a thoughtfully curated program for regions across the world, entrepreneurs gained insights on how they could manage their company’s finances in times of uncertainty, lead people and manage their teams remotely amongst many other topics. 

Successfully concluding on 1st April 2020, the 24-hour conference followed the sun, with the moderation baton handed over from Asia, to Europe, and finished off with America’s session, alongside a k eynote speech from investor and prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Drape r. 

Each speaker shared ample knowledge and interacted with the viewers answering questions thrown at them with vicarious energy and enthusiasm. In summary, these are a few key takeaways from the sessions: 

Breakthrough Asia: 

TN Hari, the Head of Human Resource at Big Basket, likened entrepreneurs to soldiers: As with soldiers taking charge during a war, he urged entrepreneurs and teams to do so and become strong leaders during this challenging period. He highlighted cultivating a culture of risk taking, beginning with low risk situations.

Sanjay Mehta, the Founder and Partner at 100xVC, advised startups to consider how COVID-19 has impacted their mindset, elaborating on how it could be positioned to their favour when pitching to investors, while consciously working on the product; alongside emphasising on the significance of investing in good team members and listening to the consumers. 

Jeanette Cheah, the Founder of Hacker Exchange, introduced the concept of Borderless Businesses, segmenting it into three main subdivisions:

1) Borderless as a Physicality - which allows one to work from various regions across the globe, 2) Borderless as Human Beings - removing borders between employees and the leadership team; This vulnerability creates an environment that is more trusting and comfortable, which is optimal for productivity and creativity to thrive and 3) Borderless in Mindset - having more than just one skill or job title and using it to the fullest potential for one’s business. 

While these tools may ease the process of running seamless businesses, success ultimately lies in the entrepreneur and their mindset. 

Breakthrough Europe: 

Craig Wright, the Chief Scientist at nChian, interacted with viewers in an extremely engaging session, explaining how Bitcoin itself does not have the inherent ability to solve the world’s problems. It was noteworthy how people use Bitcoin and what systems they choose to build on it. 

Rain Rannu, the Founding Partner at Superangel, an organisation that engages in early stage investment funding, gave valuable insight on how VCs invest during a crisis. He reinforced on proving traction, numbers, matrix for providing a good financial ground. 

Paavo Pauklin, the Founder of Netcorp, recommended effective digital strategies and tools that would enhance remote work culture, including the refreshing idea of “walking meetings”, where e veryone put on their headsets and go for a walk, or move around. He also stated that transparency is important even in remote teams and that it’s important to check in on your remote employees & own up to problems. 

Breakthrough America: 

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, in his keynote, enthused the entrepreneurs who were tuned in to resume with their usual routine, “ Go to work just the way you always do. Get showered, shaved, dressed, ready for work and go to a corner of your house to work." Apart from doing so, he encouraged entrepreneurs to manage their finances carefully while also focusing on marketing now, so both investors and customers will know the brands to seek when they have the purchasing power. 

Juan Acosta, the Founder of Tabella, held a session about pitching to investors during uncertain times. He reiterated on being confident in one’s pitch whilst everyone is in a state of shock, and measures to reacting positively when faced with rejection. 

Wrapping up on a high note with the final speaker, Gina Koles, Founder of GameChangers.International, left viewers with mindset hacks and adopting a positive mindset to live by, from broken bones to a breakthrough life: YES I CAN. 

Following the conclusion of Breakthrough, Draper Startup House officially launched Draper Entrepreneur Network to further enable the global entrepreneurship community. Through access to resources, connections and the network, Draper Startup House aspires that entrepreneurs remain inspired and empowered to tide through this period and come out stronger together, as they rise up to the challenge. 

This is what Breakthrough was all about: riding out the storm by overcoming pressures with the strength and support from a positive and globally interconnected community.

For everyone who missed the conference, the sessions are available on the Draper Startup House Facebook page. 

About Draper Startup House:

The mission at Draper Startup House is to enable ONE MILLION entrepreneurs by 2030, disrupting hospitality by inventing a new category of entrepreneurial tourism and creating true value through their ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs.

Through the use of real human connection, inspired business travel, a diverse-minded community and access to global citizens - the community members of Draper Startup House are able to connect to new opportunities, inspire one another to innovate and execute, and empower one another to GO BIG, pay it forward, and drive progress. 

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