By LouAnn Conner (Founder & CEO, SagaciousThink) On February 3, I was invited by Patricia Araque to attend Founder Friday in Barcelona, Spain. Being active in the startup community in Silicon Valley, I was curious to see what an entrepreneur event would be like in another country.
The people, the conversations, and the event all exceeded my expectations. First, I could not believe it was only the third Founders Friday for Barcelona, it was a packed house and very efficiently run. I’d have guessed that they had been doing this for a while.
Ellas 2.0 (as Women 2.0 is called in Spain) had taken over the top floor of a popular bar/restaurant, and the order of the evening was business - new business that is.
Second, the room hummed with energy, you would never have guessed it was the end of the work week with the buzz and excitement. As I wandered the room, animated conversations around startups and plans were taking place in a variety of languages. The environment was very welcoming, so if someone wanted to attend this event simply because they were curious, they need not feel intimidated, for they will quickly find others to talk to, and introduced to people that could answer their questions. I saw no cliques, and everyone seemed eager to mix and mingle moving from group to group naturally.
Not knowing anyone, I wandered the room for a few minutes, and when it became apparent that I was alone, people came over to talk to me and were genuinely excited that I was from Silicon Valley bringing a different perspective to the group. They quizzed me on the state of Silicon Valley, the challenges facing entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, and shared their business ideas. We found common themes about struggling with the concept of failure, acceptance of others of our passion for our ideas and how we wanted to execute them, and the more mundane, but nevertheless, critical struggles of securing funding and growth.
At one point the networking was interrupted by one of the organizers breaking in to introduce several startup founders who had the opportunity to give overviews of their companies and speak of recent successes. The audience gave them its undivided attention as they spoke passionately and very articulately about what they are doing.
The women I spoke with had diverse business plans ranging from a site to do swap your home or apartment while traveling to an entrepreneur considering her prospects in developing a SEO/marketing related business. Everyone sensed that only by coming sharing ideas, needs, and goals would the group collectively succeed.
The next time I am in Barcelona, I will definitely time my visit to attend another Founder Friday events, and I look forward to the opportunity to do the same in Madrid. My advice to you is that if you find yourself in Barcelona on the first Friday of the month, get yourself to a Founder Friday event and see for yourself the entrepreneurial heartbeat that is driving this city. You will come away inspired and impressed and with friends and connections that were missing a few short hours before.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: LouAnn Conner is the Founder and CEO of SagaciousThink. She has a BS in engineering from Iowa State University, and an MBA in International Business from Johns Hopkins University’s Carey School of Business. She teaches at Golden Gate University and University of California at Berkeley where her classes include Entrepreneurship and Planning and Management of New Ventures. Follow her on Twitter at @sagaciousthink.