Go Youth Conference started in 2011 with the goal to get us thinking and talking about entrepreneurship. This year (29 and 30 April) there will be talks, lots of networking, and mentorship sessions, among other exciting events. I talked with Producer and CEO André Carvalho to find out more about this year’s edition.
What is the main motivation for putting together the GO Youth Conference?
We make impactful connections. Putting this conference together puts us in contact with a lot of different people, and they change us as much as we change them.
The speakers, of course, are always a big source of inspiration for us. We keep in contact with them way past the conference, and we feel that we gain not just friends but also active advisors and supporters of our cause.
As for participants, many of them become part of our family and we are very happy to see people who keep returning for more. We met with some guys from YouClap, a software startup, in one of our community visits to Aveiro. They told us GO Youth Conference 2016 was their very first entrepreneurship event of this magnitude, and that the experience was so enriching and the speakers so helpful, they decided to overhaul their entire project and go on a completely different direction. Now, they’re coming back for their second GO Youth Conf, with a larger team and having closed their first round of investment!
There are many more examples like this, and hearing these stories give us strength to continue with this project (and major ego boosts!).
Also, consider that most of the present team this year started as volunteers in previous editions. GO Youth has the power to draw in these amazing talents, all of whom have a powerful will to be of help other entrepreneurs be successful and make a change.
How has the conference evolved over the years?
Our goal is to keep making more and more impact, while staying on top of the dialogue on entrepreneurship and being careful not to fall in demagoguery or simple cheerleading. The content being presented has become more structured, serious, with more areas of entrepreneurship being involved. GO Youth is also actively trying to reach the farthermost corners of Portugal, so that everyone may have access to this pool of knowledge we gather for two days in Lisbon.
Let us in on the secret to getting such big names to come to Lisbon
Ah, you wish! This is our secret family recipe: it’s what makes us special. Let’s just say that to “bake” such big speakers, it takes a lot of persistence, a good balance between familiarity and professionalism, plenty of charm and some positively movie-worthy investigative skills.
What are the highlights of this year’s GYC?
I would say Abbas Kazmi, the youngest founder of a VC with more than 100M€ in capital, Ben Polkinghorne, advertiser, winner of 11 Palmes d’Or of the Cannes Festival, Rory and Kieran O’Reilly, Thiel Scholars and creators of Gifs.com, and Liam Wong, Creative director at Ubisoft and the brain behind the design of games such as the Far Cry series.
Name the single mistake you learned the most from
In events, it is paramount that you have guarantees of all the things you expect to happen. There are suppliers, speakers, venues, partners and sponsors to juggle, all of them with their own wishes and agenda. Sometimes you can get so caught up trying to please everyone that you forget your own goals and targets.
My advice: in any type of serious arrangement, treat it like a contract. People always seem to take commitments more seriously if a signature is required.
Give us your take on the Portuguese startup scene today
It is very nice to see how much we matured. When we started the conference, in 2011, the conversation on entrepreneurship was still only a thing for the few interested, and there was a lot of misinformation and lack of support to startups and all types of projects. Now, we are truly a country for entrepreneurs, being consistently ranked high in terms of conditions for startups to appear and grow. Even the government is taking a more active part, and that is evidence that society recognizes the value of this segment of the economy.
Of course, one must remember that where there is excitement, there is delusion. There are no miracle solutions, no one answer that acts as a master key to all problems. If we are to succeed as a haven for entrepreneurship, we need to arm ourselves of data and knowledge and be sure to include all players in the collective effort to better the conditions for business in Portugal.
Find out more and register at http://www.goyouthconf.com