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“The weekend before the GEC, Startup Weekend organizers convened in dawn-to-dusk high-energy working sessions. The Startup Weekend SoSummit was a grassroots, roll-your-sleeves-up event focused on supporting its community organizers — those hosts of weekends that allow participants the opportunity to experience building a technology solution and business model in 54 hours. Startup Weekend curators shared stories of their successes and failures (and they use the latter word with pride), learned from experienced entrepreneurs and investors and brainstormed community building opportunities across the various regions of the world. The 9:30 a.m. “dance off” wake-up session on Sunday was indicative of the constant positive energy exhibited by every member of this gathering.” — Read more in the Huffington Post article “Startup Craze in Rio” by Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation. 

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On March 16th – 18th, over 200 passionate volunteers and community leaders gathered to discuss how to better encourage and support entrepreneurs around the world and create thriving startup communities.

The third annual “SOSummit” (Startup Weekend Organizers Summit) retreat took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and featured a series of talks, workshops, and mostly — collaborative learning and discourse between people from all over the world, all of whom are on a similar journey to cultivate strong startup communities and empower people to take action in their lives for the problems and ideas that they care about.

“The only thing more rewarding than being an entrepreneur is helping others become entrepreneurs. SOSummit is easily the highest concentration of community leaders in the world not just talking about doing things, but actually doing them and changing our world in the process. Imagine a world without Startup Weekend at this point – it’s not possible. The notion of entrepreneurship is forever changed and more accessible than ever before. We’ve helped unlock a true cultural movement that is uniting some of the most powerful grassroots activity ever seen” — Marc Nager, CEO & Co-Founder 

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The profound impact of this gathering manifested in a number of ways. Over dinner, one could look around the room and see animated conversation ranging from local government policy to a debate on the best local programs for aspiring entrepreneurs, and how to better provide access to these resources. It became increasingly clear that everyone was on a mission to make their communities better. Seeing this genuine care unfold in actionable, entrepreneurial ways was nothing short of transformative for everyone involved. This year, SOSummit featured Organizer stories from Ghana, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tehran, Sheffield, UK — and many more.  Guest speakers included Marc Ecko on developing a personal brand, Dave McClure of 500 startups, Brad Feld on startup communities, Paul Kedrosky from Kauffman Foundation, and more.

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It is one thing to interact with people around the world via social media or the occasional email, but to shake hands with so many people on the same mission — to be able to look them in the eye and hear them talk about their own communities is a completely different experience. Witnessing relationships build around common goals that truly transcend cultures served as a reminder that entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful vehicles for transforming the world. Entrepreneurship provides a way to access inner resources, and being entrepreneurial motivates us all to pay attention to what drives us, motivates us the most — and to take action in a way that makes a real difference. This is such a basic component of what it means to truly be “alive,” that the unfolding of the entrepreneurial revolution is inevitable. Entrepreneurship has caught like wildfire, and we’ve seen its power on a global level. SOSummit 2013 confirmed this reality in a profound way, and one can only imagine what next year’s SOSummit will hold.

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“SOSummit is nothing less than a glimpse of the future of our economies. The grassroots entrepreneurial movement is the one driving the future of our economy. Here we are not talking about the present, but about the future of business creation and economic impact in a very practical way. The density of “doers” goes far beyond startup weekend. This “unconference” also has it’s own impact — people become friends and suddenly, two countries become friends. This is just the beginning of a journey that will take entrepreneurship to it’s full potential in this century” — Franck Nouyrigat, Co-Founder

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Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian