Startup Iceland 2012 Was Phenomenal

Amy and I just spent an incredible week in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was our first time here and everything was awesome – the people, the food, the weather, the hotels, the weather, the people, the food, the people, the weather – you get the idea.

Bala Kamallakharan was our host and the founder of Startup Iceland. He’s got a great post up titled Startup Iceland 2012 – Done! that summarizes the event and there are plenty of details on the Startup Iceland Event site about the participants and the agenda. 300+ people participated in what turned out to be a great concentration of the people in and around the Iceland startup community.

We spent a lot of time during the week roaming around Reykjavik, meeting lots of interesting people, learning the history of this country, revisiting what they’ve been through in the past decade economically, and appreciating our existence on this planet.

We’re hopping on a plane in a few minutes to head back home to Colorado where we’ll be for the summer. We’ve already started talking about coming back again next year.

  • “Bus with Brad” & “The Brads” – that is funny.


    Tell us what the start up environment is like in Iceland. Are they pumping massive amounts of cash into start ups? Is the economy in a massive growth phase? Would people from the US find a receptive situation for bringing software development related services to Iceland? How much of a struggle is it there to procure seed funding? Do they focus on building long-term job opportunities? Who can people from the US contact there to get involved?

    • The startup environment in Iceland is sort of like the little engine that could. It’s got potential, but could use some help getting over the mountain (read we need more outside funding and more people like Brad coming over to share their knowledge with us).

      In order to get involved I would suggest asking in here, it’s a relatively small country and getting connected is pretty simple, there’s always a guy that knows a guy 🙂
      As for the economy, I guess you could call the “road to recovery” a “massive growth phase”, it’s hopefully going to get there sooner rather than later.

  • kfkristjansson

    Thanks for a fantastic mentorship session. Teams are fully inspired and ready to kickoff the first run in StartupReykjavik! 🙂

  • I think that this conference has had a huge impact on the startup environment in Iceland and getting you to come and speak here was fantastic. I just wanted to thank you for coming and I really enjoyed meeting you.

    • Brad– I couldn’t agree more with Haukur. This conference made serious impact on the startup community and we’re going to be seeing some big things in Iceland. We had an absolute blast in the backcountry after StartupISK– you’ll have to join us next time!!

  • ClaraCWhitsett
  • James Mitchell

    It seems to me that things are getting ridiculous in the encourage entrepreneurship ecosystem. Iceland?? The country has 320,000 people. There is nothing going on in Iceland. If one is serious about being an entrepreneurship, sensible advice would be to leave Iceland now. What is next? Some little island you can’t even find on the map, with a population of 5,000, and they have a startup conference?

    On the other hand, 99 percent of the people are literate, everyone speaks English, and taxes are lower than most other OECD countries.

    • Iceland will export it’s best startups, like it does with it’s music. Surely an entrepreneurship ecosystem can only help that.

      • James Mitchell

        Jess, what do you mean by exporting a startup? The entrepreneurs will start their company in Iceland and at some point move out of the country? Or they will start a company in Iceland and that company will export its products and services?

        • at some point move out of the country into bigger markets. I suspect younger people are looking for an excuse to get out of Iceland, and a startup is a good one. No reason why they can’t get started in Iceland though.

          • James Mitchell

            Or they could apply and be accepted into programs such as Ycombinator and TechStars, and they would be forced to leave Ireland. I wonder how many entrepreneurs from foreign countries these programs accept?

          • Plenty, although there is a great new program in Reykjavik called I spent a few hours last week with the teams and a few of the mentors and it’s a strong accelerator program (and a member of the Global Accelerator Network).

    • Thank you for your well-researched, insightful comment. The world is now a better place.

  • Iceland like its other Nordic neighbours will always be developing technology with an eye for export. There has been some excellent startups that have come out from Nordic countries such as Linux, Skype, angry birds, Kaaza and many others. The point here is that Scandinavian startups have always looked to export their products because there market is too small. However, they don’t lack the talent or entrepreneurial spirit to become successful. Here is an excellent FastCompany article describing the Scandinavian culture and why it IS NOT silicon valley.

  • Brad,

    I hope you get the chance to write a blog post about your visit to Iceland

  • +1 for countries that get 80% of their power from renewable resources (hydro, geothermal). Cheers from Seattle, Reykjavik’s sister city! (

  • Great event! I hope, if possible for you to post some pictures of those activities at Iceland if that is not too much. Thanks. 🙂

    • I’ll probably put some Iceland photos up at some point. I think the Startup Iceland folks probably will also – I’d pay attention to the blog over there.

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