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Entrepreneurial rhythms in an island state

David and Goliath must dance, Julie Meyer, founder of Ariadne Capital, tells Rene Magri.

Malta has built an enviable position on the world stage when it comes to making the most out of very high-yielding and technical niches.

Two such niches where we truly are leaving our mark and are indeed considered world leaders are online gaming and finance. No news here, for the avid reader. Now, however, a new niche is brewing up and if we – as a country – play our cards right, we might take this one too: blockchain.

Blockchain is the technology underlying the Bitcoin currency which is rapidly coming out as the gold standard for security, attributability and digital identity. It is increasingly being tested in a plethora of other applications and contexts.

Our ascendency on the global scene has not gone unnoticed with technology influencers. One such influencer who decided, after landing on the island on a speaking gig at a Finance Malta event, to stay here is Julie Meyer.

Meyer is the founder of Ariadne Capital, a highly innovative venture capital firm focused on backing entrepreneurs and highly disruptive minds. She was one of the backers of Skype and also founded Entrepreneur Country. Now she is leading a movement based on a very palatable premise, that David and Goliath must dance: established corporations need small innovators to stay nimble, and small companies need bigger counterparts to get distribution and scale. Always remember to follow the entrepreneur and not capital.

Last April Entrepreneur Country hosted the first event on the island on digital identity. A plethora of international speakers, start-ups with great technologies and experts in the field of identity, security, Blockchain and more, gave talks, and sat on panels which truly gave insights on the future of digital identity, its disruption and Malta’s potential role.

This July, Follow the Entrepreneur, an event which attracted north of 500 participants from all over Europe and further afield – showcased Malta as a place to start your business, or the ideal place to relocate or invest in business. The livestream running concurrently to the event reached over 50,000 hits.

The main thread of the two-day event centred around the ‘idealness’ of Malta to do business in; how good our local workforce is, and how entrepreneurial we can be.

Always remember to follow the entrepreneur and not capital

The speakers during this summit were a mix of foreigners living in Malta but are involved in really world-changing products, others were local start-up founders who found success and scale in a number of countries, and yet others were brought in as experts in their field, who positioned their global arguments on the opportunities that lie ahead in gaming, finance, banking, digital identity, blockchain, and more – and how ripe these were for creating value.

All of this centred on bringing in together big, global companies and innovative start-ups to work together to solve big problems using innovative technology and to capture value.

Meyer is a big believer in Europe and what Europe can do on the word stage on creating world-class businesses.  She just relocated EntrepreneurCountry Global to Malta.

“I have indeed established a permanent base here in Malta. We have hired a head of EntrepreneurCountry in Malta – an outstanding well-known successful business person who will take the lead, and I’m thrilled about this. We have had for a year several senior advisors – Malcolm Ross, Mikko Puhakka, and others who have been helping build EC. Eventually we’ll have quite a big campus for EntrepreneurCountry. But we will be working with large enterprises from all over the EU (our current clients) who want to test-pilot new applications with the Malta-based EC citizens.”

One other finer aim of the FTE summit is to inculcate the entrepreneurial spirit into all the attendees, to indeed encourage entrepreneurship to emerge in full swing, and to celebrate the life of these ‘unordinary’, highly contrarian individuals, who would do anything to get their idea out into the world.

They would thus become citizens of entrepreneur country.

But what constitutes the mind-set of an entrepreneur?

“I believe there is an entrepreneur in most people just trying to get out.

“Sometimes it expresses itself as being an intrapreneur inside of a larger firm, or by working for an entrepreneur.”

The final piece of the puzzle is capital. To this Meyer adds:

“Ariadne Capital is betting big on Malta with our target €1 billion AUM (assets under management) investment platform to be based out of Malta investing across the EU.”

Meyer’s efforts on the local ecosystem augur well for the future of our entrepreneurial DNA. Meyer brings to the island a whole network, a platform, access to capital and deep experience in backing entrepreneurs and wealth-creators.

We just need to learn to move to the rhythm, and let David and Goliath to take the stage.

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