Aimed at encouraging locals to become entrepreneurs and helping existing businesses grow, Startup Grind has opened their very own hub in Gibraltar. The company was originally founded in Silicon Valley in 2010 by Spencer Nielson and Derek Andersen and is now the world’s biggest independent start up community; actively mentoring and teaching business practices through specialised monthly events and talks from successful guest speakers.
In the past seven years, Startup Grind has expanded into over 200 cities, including Gibraltar, building a community of over 1,000,000 entrepreneurs who can all actively share knowledge. The key here is that members should first make friends, rather than see others as primarily a possible connection to pitch your business idea to. That way members can focus on helping each other without agenda.
The monthly events themselves are aimed at being both informative and fun. Uniquely, the guest speaker will sit in an armchair facing the audience, allowing guests to easily ask questions and advice without feeling intimidated. So far, the Gibraltar Startup Grind community has enjoyed guest talks from Professor Daniella Tilbury, who is the vice-chancellor & CEO of the University of Gibraltar, Marcus Killick, CEO of ISOLAS law firm and 2014 OBE awardee and even Alex Capurro, who is the founder of the Easy Payment Gateway.
And since Gibraltar is home to a number of high profile businesses, including the Bland Group, partypoker and Hassans, the company will no doubt be eager to call on more local representatives for upcoming events.
Of course, there has been recent speculation over the future of Gibraltar and its business empire now that the UK has entered into talks to leave the European Union. Gibraltar is a territory of the United Kingdom, and although Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly against Brexit (96% opposing leaving the EU with a high turnout of 86% of voters) the overall majority in the UK voted yes to leaving.
This puts Gibraltar in a sticky situation, as currently it can set its own tax levels and regulations. There are also no major border restrictions on people being able to cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar, allowing both the British and Spanish to easily find work there. However, leaving the EU puts Gibraltar into unknown territory depending on what trade deals the UK can bargain with the EU.
There’s even the risk that Spain itself may close their border with Gibraltar without the UK having the backing of the EU to stop this. This may not be a farfetched notion, as Spain has already tried to block Gibraltar making any independent deals with the EU, which is worrying for Gibraltar as it has relied heavily on the EU in the past.
There is some speculation that the UK will use Gibraltar and its sovereignty as a bargaining chip in future talks with the EU. If this becomes the case, Spain may make its own move to gain control or Gibraltar may try to become independent, although it has stated that it would prefer to stay as part of the UK.
Whatever the political future holds for Gibraltar, though, it’s clear that Startup Grind and the business community will work together to support and guide each other.