What is Silicon Valley? Breeding impact from Dubai….
This week kicks of the Celebration of Entrepreneurs (CoE) event –#CoE2010. It is a great honor for HealthCentral and me that I’ve been invited to a historic assembly of entrepreneurs from the Middle East. Gathered today in Dubai are over 2,500 young, tenacious, brilliant women and men, from around the world, sharing ideas and learning – their experiences – all in a fellowship of creating new ideas and support to make impact. There has never been anything like this before. The energy and talent are infectious.
At HealthCentral, we value members of our team stepping outside of themselves, and learning not only from the amazing gifts of our users and partners, but in the myriad of amazing, entrepreneurial accomplishments throughout the worlds of technology with whom we can share learning. It makes us better as a team, and as individuals.
There are many great aspects of being a part of the HealthCentral family, first and foremost seeing in real time and in real terms the unleashing of ideas, stories and support among our writers and audiences. We, in a small way, help facilitate connections to information and people that allow health seekers to truly be empowered — not just informed, but knowing they are not alone; they are not crazy; and that they take CAN truly have impact on their health and wellness, and that of their friends and loved ones.
In this mission I value focus — it is too easy to chase some fad or spectrum on ideas that are not core to what we can offer.
It has been profound to me that as technology is so embedded in our lives — as taken for granted as water — there are not only the kind of social connections we create at HealthCentral, but also the opportunity for countless millions to create ideas and execute on their dreams unimagined only a few years ago. In broader strokes, over 40 mm jobs were created by entrepreneurs in the US alone — and what was once known as the developing world, nascent but growing paths to entrepreneurship promises great innovation and astounding opportunities for unprecedented growth.
The co-founders of this gathering are Arif Naqvi, a self-made executive from Pakistan, who created the largest private investment group in the Middle East; and Fadi Ghandour, a legend for building what is in effect the Fed Ex of this region. Their work has always transcended business as they have sought and inspired countless entrepreneurs, in business ventures and social impact, to unleash potential and solve problems often deemed unsolvable.
This “unconference” is a host for exchanging ideas and courage. The energy is palpable and the stories are amazing. How a former Yahoo executive and entrepreneur is creating the first incubator in Amman, Jordan — the oasis500 — offering not only seed investment capital, but mentorship, shared resources (finance and resource) and training. Another example is Dr. Nail al Mutawa who created an idea, The 99, comic books and TV shows of super heroes while framed in the values of Islam. They will tie all themes to values the entire world shares with characters like Superman and other American comic heroes. This program, which started from nothing, will be launching globally in the next year and has already been recognized by President Obama. And then there is a small acquisition the regional portal did of an online resource/community that had over 300,000 users built on a shoe string in the middle of Yemen, unable to reach a FedEx station to send signatures on acquisition documents or didn’t have passports so they could attend a business meeting!
Something is happening out there, and we know the remarkable forces it can bring to bear from our experiences here in the States. We have seen throughout the developing world — what technology has opened in places few of us could There is an amazing amount we are teaching each other, and dialogues being created that have exciting opportunities for the future. With that said, There are political and even cultural pressures on entrepreneurship everywhere in the world. But there is a spirit very hard to squash permanently now, because of the capabilities and connectedness and innovation that will never go away.
As you can imagine, health and health care loom large here. No fewer than five entrepreneurs asked me if they could start the HealthCentral of the region! That may be a little off focus for us, but if someone tenacious and caring folks can find ways to help people control their health lives anywhere in the world, we’re rooting for them!
A great US investor and speaker here told a local friend he has not seen the kind of energy here since the late ’90s in Silicon Valley. My local friend winked and smiled and said, “what is Silicon Valley?”
Great entrepreneurs know no analogy, and want to do it for themselves!