Google may be famous for its search engine and its numerous internet-related services, but the Silicon Valley giant also has an international physical presence through an initiative called Google for Entrepreneurs, which aims to promote entrepreneurialism all over the globe. “Entrepreneurship and innovation are thriving all over the world, not just here in Silicon Valley," said Mary Grove, director of Google for Entrepreneurs. "We see that all over the world, so it’s really exciting to see this tidal wave. It’s never been easier, in some ways, to start a company and your audience has never had the potential to be more global.” The internet makes that possible. Grove said startups and entrepreneurs are the backbone of economic development. “We ourselves began as a startup in a garage about 18 years ago and we’ve really been through the entrepreneurial journey and understand some of the challenges, some of the opportunities," she said. "Now, 18 years later, we really want to be a platform to help empower the next generation of startups to launch and grow and ultimately be successful." Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Google for Entrepreneurs created Google campuses in London, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Warsaw, Tel Aviv and Seoul. Each campus provides combined working and meeting spaces that are free and open for anyone in the startup community. Entrepreneurs can network, attend classes and collaborate with mentors to help their startups grow. Korean entrepreneur Yeram Kwon has attended events at Google’s Seoul campus. “Through these events I could learn new business opportunities or new ideas relative to a business problem, Kwon said. Baby-friendly spaces The global campuses all feature a bit of Silicon Valley’s innovative culture. One example is a nine-week, parent-friendly accelerator program called Campus for Moms. In the startup world, an accelerator is an intensive program in which entrepreneurs work to achieve a goal for their business within a short time. This program condenses the curriculum into one day a week for nine weeks, making it easier for entrepreneurs with small children to attend. And they can also bring the kids to campus. In this case, parents can bring their young children onto Google’s campuses while working on their startups. These spaces have cry rooms, play rooms and feeding rooms. Outside the six global campuses, Google for Entrepreneurs also works with partner programs in other regions of the world to reach even more entrepreneurs. “Being partners means a few things. One, it does mean financial support and resources to help grow and run their organizations, and more importantly to us, it means being part of this global community that is truly a network,” Grove said. As an example, "we may work with an amazing organization like Startup Grind, which starts [nurturing startup ecosystems] in a couple dozen cities, and our help and support is able to expand their work to over 80 cities,” she said. Entrepreneurial ecosystem Grove said the key to creating a healthy entrepreneurial environment is to have a talent pool, a business-friendly government, and a culture that is not afraid of taking risks. One such place is South Korea. “It is true that entrepreneurs are considered as risk-takers in Korea. Most Korean people think that it is much safer to work for big companies like Samsung and LG because there is more risk if you choose to be an entrepreneur in Korea," Kwon said. "But recently that kind of perception has changed a lot since the Korean government and companies like Google have supported many startups,” Kwon added. Access to capital is another key component to a healthy startup environment, Grove said. And Google for Entrepreneurs works with numerous partners around the world to find financial resources. “We know capital is concentrated now in Silicon Valley. How can we work in some of these markets to help foster the next generation of angel investors or seed investors, bringing in international investors and helping them have visibility in these markets?” she asked. Since launching globally in 2012, through its campuses and partner programs, Google for Entrepreneurs said it has reached 330,000 entrepreneurs in 140 countries, raising $1.8 billion in funding while creating more than 20,000 new jobs through these startups.
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May 3, 2017