Archive for ‘Speaker Profile’

May 31, 2014

Jenny Lawton – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014


Startup Iceland Hackathon is today, we sold out all the tickets but everyone is welcome. If you are stuck in this rainy weather today in Reykjavik head over to Reykjavik University and see teams come together to make and build things.

Startup Iceland Conference is on June 2nd, we have over 270 participants. I think it is going to be an awesome event. What we have tried to do with Startup Iceland is provide a platform for Startups to showcase, connect, network and get mentoring with some key influencers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs. Jenny Lawton is one of those people, She has walked the proverbial mile as an Entrepreneur in High Tech and Retail, successfully transitioned from different roles, has networks and relationships in the Venture and Angel Investor communities through her association with Softbank and Mobius Ventures. She is available on a one-on-one mentor for any of the participants of Startup Iceland. Here is a brief profile of Jenny, I am really excited to meet her, get to know her and learn from her experience of being an Entrepreneur.

Jennifer Lawton is the president of MakerBot. She previously held the title of chief strategy officer.  Lawton has been with MakerBot since 2011 and has been responsible for the overall strategy and growth of the company, including strategic partnerships, product development, and retail.  In addition to her work with MakerBot, she is a respected company builder, technologist, and advocate for fostering entrepreneurship.

In 1991, Lawton co-founded Net Daemons Associates (NDA), an information technology consulting firm. With Lawton as CEO, NDA was recognized on the 1998Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately held U.S. companies, and on the Deloitte and Touche Fast 50 and Fast 500 lists for 1997 and 1998. In 1999, Net Daemons was acquired by Interliant Inc. (formerly Sage Networks), where Lawton served as a senior vice president. She later worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence with Softbank and Mobius Venture Capital.

In 2001, Lawton left the corporate world to become the owner of the independent bookstores Just Books and Just Books, Too, as well as Arcadia Café in Old Greenwich, Conn. After ten years running successful retail ventures, Jenny re-entered the business scene, serving as COO for Rockin’ Water and RAM Scientific, and SVP Operations for Mercury Solar Systems.

She is currently a board member of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

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May 14, 2014

Liad Agmon – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

LiadAgmon-342x342Liad Agmon is a serial entrepreneur and a big fan of Iceland, he has been in Iceland at least a couple of times. Don’t be fooled by all his success stories, he has a lot of stories on how he was able to take a really miserable situation in his company and turn it into a success. He has spoken in many conferences about his exit stories, he met with Team GreenQloud right after I joined as CEO in 2012. Paula Gould, who is a key member of the Startup Iceland organizing team is good friends with Liad and wrestled him to come back to Iceland and tell us his story. It was very interesting to hear two different stories of his 2 exits. I believe very strongly that you learn more when you fail than when you win and it was great to see Liad share the same sentiment. I am really looking forward to hearing him speak in Startup Iceland.

Here is a brief profile about Liad:

Liad Agmon is the Co-Founder, Director and CEO of Dynamic Yield. He is a serial entrepreneur with rich experience as a startup founder and as a Fortune 500 executive. He founded information security vendor Onigma (acquired by McAfee) and social search company Delver (acquired by Sears Holdings). Following Delver’s acquisition, Liad served as a VP of New Services at Sears Holdings and on the board of its Home Electronics and Outlets business units. Liad served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners and is teaching at the Entrepreneurship MBA program in Tel-Aviv University and at the Zell Program of IDC Herzliya. He holds a BA Cum Laude from Tel-Aviv university in Computer Sciences and Film Studies.

P.S: Our early bird tickets are only on offer for another day, from May 16th, the price of the tickets jump to the full price. Take advantage of this 40% discounted offer and buy your tickets now. They are running out fast and we will not be able to make special concessions for last minute requests as we have sold out the halls the last two times and I had to say No to a lot of people.

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May 13, 2014

Tulipop Founders – Signy and Helga – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

map Startup Iceland is almost here, if you have not booked your tickets please do it. We have a great line up of speakers. Two of the speakers are Icelandic Entrepreneurs Signy Kolbeinsdottir and Helga Arnadottir, the founders of Tulipop, a kids adventure land with a bunch of unique characters. What is interesting about these characters is that it breaks some of the stereotypes that we see in kids stories and characters. There is Gloomy, the adventure seeking and courageous female character and Bubble a cheery, fun loving and timid male character. The stories and settings are in an imaginary island. The story of Tulipop is unique in the sense that both the founders came together after the financial collapse and decided that they wanted to create things, Signy the illustrator and creator of all these characters and stories got really stuffy working at things that she was not really passionate about. Helga comes from the project management and MBA background to take the concept to market and build a company that both of them are passionate about. Tulipop characters and merchandises are unique, high quality, very well crafted and made and sold all over the world now.Helga_Arnadottir-342x227 It is a great story, but they are just in the beginning stage of building a great company. Learn how they are building this world that is now being loved by kids all over the world.

It was interesting to visit their office in Hverfisgata, where tourists stop by and buy the merchandize and get autographs from Signy on them. Maybe the tourists visiting Iceland see something in Tulipop. I believe companies like this are abound in Iceland, many ideas are being created and are on the verge of breaking out, but the funny thing is change itself happens immediately, but preparing for change takes time.

Mission of Startup Iceland is to build a sustainable startup community in Iceland and to share the journey, so we can learn to build these kinds of communities everywhere. It is a great pleasure to see up coming and break out companies presented in Startup Iceland. The previous entrepreneurs who have presented in Startup Iceland are from companies like Clara, Plain Vanilla Games, reKode (skema), Mobilitus, Re-make Electric, GreenQloud etc all of them have gone ahead and are building great companies. I believe Startup Iceland is a platform for Startups in Iceland to be showcased. If you have a startup and want to participate reach out to me. All the speakers who come to Iceland have been generous to allocate Office Hours on June 3rd in Reykjavik University. All the participants have an opportunity to schedule time with the guests, connect, network and build bridges. I wrote a while back about 2 must have skills to be cultivated by Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders, you get to exercise both of those skills during Startup Iceland. Building a company is a hard job, initiatives like Startup Iceland really help local startups to learn and also to be found. In this hyper connected world of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, it is very easy to get lost in all the hype, but nothing is more practical and impactful and cost effective than participating in events like this and talking about your startup. Even if you are not a speaker, just being in the audience and networking during the breaks and connecting with other entrepreneurs in Iceland and from around the world can be a unique learning experience. I take every opportunity to meet an Entrepreneur as I learn so much, but it does not happen on its own, we all need to make the effort and take that first step and say yes when opportunity comes knocking. I am excited to learn about Tulipop and where they are going with their vision. Believe me it is not small! They want to give Hello Kitty a run for its money! thats bold…

Here is the video of panel discussion where Thor Fridriksson the founder of Plain Vanilla Games and Sessilja and Vala from Startup Kids talk to John Biggs from TechCrunch.

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May 8, 2014

Thubten Comerford – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

ThubtenHeadshot-305x460We have over 2.4 billion people online now and about 2 billion are on the way. In this hyper connected world no longer are you selling your product or service in your neighbourhood, you customers are everyone who is connected to the Internet. As exciting as that sounds, it is not always obvious or easy to get in front of all these people and get them to consider your value proposition or buy your product or service. If you are an entrepreneur the most difficult part of building a company is building an audience and converting a large percentage of those who listen to become your customer. Building an audience is hard, believe me I take a lot of meetings with entrepreneurs and they throw words like Search Engine Optimization, Social Media leveraging and also we will find the “Growth Hacker”, yeah! right! There is no easy way to build an audience, getting in front of a million people is bloody hard. I don’t care what Facebook says, they have changed their algorithm to a point where you have to pay to get in front of the audience. Well, that is Facebook’s prerogative. That is why I am so excited to hear about how one of our guests to Startup Iceland Thubten Comerford has built his audience. He has been named the most connected individual on LinkedIn. If you are an entrepreneur or a startup founder or even an established business, you need to attend his talk. He is going to talk about how he built his audience. Here is a brief profile of Thubten. Thank you Helga Waage to connect me to Thubten.

Acknowledged by Business Insider as one of the “Best Connected Entrepreneurs” in the world, Thubten Comerford is a seasoned business builder who actively mentors startup founders in Portland, Oregon, and across North America.

He has interviewed hundreds of startup founders for his blog, Startup Weekly, which he co-founded in 2010.

Thubten’s primary business is his social marketing agency, WePost Media Social Marketing, which provides social marketing for businesses of any size. With more than 1/4 million followers on his personal and business Twitter profiles, he is a demonstrated master of audience building.

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May 7, 2014

Ragnheidur Elin Arnadottir – Hon. Minister of Industry and Commerce – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

I have had the pleasure of meeting the Honorable Minister of Industry and Commerce of Iceland Ms. Ragnheidur Elin Arnadottir a number of times. I have been deeply impressed with her understanding of the Startup and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem development and the role Government and other institutions play in it. She was the first Minister that I know of (not that I know a lot of them :)), who reached out to all the Startups right after she took office and went down and met with them to get feedback on what the Government could do better for the Startup Community. This level of engagement is unheard of in any context. I had the pleasure of giving her office a 10 point action plan when the management team of GreenQloud met with her. She has been true to her word in supporting initiatives and talking for the Startup Community. She has had personal engagement with Startup founders and Entrepreneurs and really has made the effort to participate, debate and bring issues in front of the Parliament to move things forward in Iceland. I am quite positive about the support Startups and Entrepreneurs will get in Iceland with her as the Minister of Industry and Commerce. She has done a great job so far of balancing the needs of large industries as well as the Startup community by supporting initiatives that promote growth, activity and industry in Iceland

We are very pleased to have her as one of the keynote speakers for Startup Iceland this year. Here is a brief profile.


Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir became Minister of Industry and Commerce on 23 May 2013. Ms Árnadóttir is an MP of the Independence party and served as chairman of the party caucus 2010-2012.

After graduating from the Women’s College in Reykjavík, she completed a BA degree from the University of Iceland in 1991 and subsequently an MS degree in international relations from Georgetown University in the US.

From 1995-1998 she worked for the Icelandic Export Council.

Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir was the political advisor to the Minister of Finance 1998-2005, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs 2005-2006 and to the Prime Minister 2006-2007.

Parliamentary Career

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May 6, 2014

Bre Pettis – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

The second post on the speaker profile series for Startup Iceland 2014. I believe that we are embarking on the next industrial revolution and Bre has been in the forefront on this. Making things is the what he does and I am not surprised that he build a 3D printer to make things faster and better and cheaper. For those of you who are non-believers all you have to do is watch the video at the end of the post. Revolution is coming, are you ready? You want to learn more? Buy your ticket now for Startup Iceland. 

Buy Now Orange

(I was asked where is the big orange buy the ticket now button for Startup Iceland, I could not resist the urge to put it here… do me a favor and book your ticket, the early bird price is valid for only another week)

Bre Pettis has led MakerBot as CEO since its beginning in 2009, but has a long history of making things and inspiring others to make things. Prior to co-­‐founding MakerBot, Pettis co-­‐founded the Brooklyn hacker collective NYC Resistor, where MakerBot technology was first created, tested, and proven. He was instrumental in building the first prototypes of MakerBot’s 3D printers, and has become known worldwide as a leading evangelist for personal manufacturing.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In 2006, Bre started the popular “Weekend Projects” video podcast for Make: Magazine, where he taught millions of viewers to make things from pinhole cameras to bicycles to hovercrafts. He also introduced the blog at the popular online handcrafts marketplace, Etsy. Prior to both endeavors, Bre was an art teacher in the Seattle Public Schools system.

Bre is passionate about providing the tools for individuals and organizations to create the world around them. He has spoken publicly about empowering students to solve the problems of the future, and worked behind the scenes to bring professional-­‐quality 3D printing technology into the hands of average consumers.

In 2012, Bre was honored with the Disruptive Innovation Award from the Tribeca Film Festival, for “creating an entire ecosystem for desktop 3D printing.” He has been a highly sought-­‐after speaker and interview subject, gracing the cover of numerous magazines (most recently WIRED), and been a guest on The Colbert Report, and many more.

Bre lives in Brooklyn with his partner Kio Stark and their daughter, Nika.

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May 2, 2014

Sherwood Neiss – Startup Iceland 2014 – Speaker Profile

Sherwood Neiss

I am really happy to start the series on the Profile of Speakers lineup that we have for Startup Iceland 2014. The US Embassy in Reykjavik, has been a big supporter of Startup Iceland since we started in 2010, and I am happy to announce that the Embassy was able to organize a fantastic speaker for Startup Iceland 2014. Here is a bio of Sherwood Neiss. Without much ado here is Sherwood Neiss and Crowd Funding.

Sherwood Neiss, Principal of Crowdfund Capital Advisors, is an expert at building successful businesses. As a 3-time INC500 winner whose company won E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Sherwood understands the keys to entrepreneurial success from concept to company to sale.

As a serial entrepreneur and investor during the credit crunch, Sherwood saw a need for a change in outdated securities laws and did something about it—as a co-founding member of Startup Exemption, Sherwood co-authored the Crowdfunding Framework used in the JOBS Act that was signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012.

Within Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA), Sherwood works with clients ranging from governments and banks that are looking for ways to boost economic development in their countries to investment firms looking for access to increased deal flow that crowdfunding creates. Sherwood serves as an advisor to several crowdfunding platforms and crowdfunding technologies giving him a unique understanding and view of the industry and market. As an industry leader, Sherwood contributes to several publications including VentureBeat and TechCrunch. He additionally wrote Crowdfund Investing for Dummies through Wiley & Son’s.

Sherwood co-founded the Crowdfunding Professional Association (CfPA), serving as Governing Board Member and co-chair where he leads the fight to ensure investors are protected while entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to start and grow promising companies.

An avid public speaker, Sherwood speaks at universities and seminars around the world discussing crowdfund investing, what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how to build winning companies. He also does a large amount of work presenting to government bodies, speaking in front of the U.S. Congress, leading SEC and FINRA meetings, as well as, addressing foreign governments—testifying about how they can bring economic benefits to their citizenry through implementing their Crowdfund Investment Framework.

Sherwood started his post-MBA career on Wall Street and moved to Silicon Valley where he completed personal and financial goals in his late 20’s he hoped to obtain in his 30’s. Wondering what to do next and also left struggling with a debilitating family dilemma, he used his entrepreneurial drive to help turn his family adversity into a multi-million dollar company that today is helping millions of sick children, animals and adults get better by being more compliant with their medicines.

As the co-founder of FLAVORx (, Sherwood structured an approach and built a business model that threw off millions of dollars in cash and while growing the business from one pharmacy to over 80% of the pharmacies in the United States. He raised millions of dollars in capital and saw the culmination of his endeavors with the sale of the company in 2007.

When not working, Sherwood is an avid traveler. He lived in Japan for a year and post-sale of FLAVORx took his second backpacking trip around the world. In addition to speaking at universities and businesses around the country he invests in real estate in the U.S. and Brazil, is part of a private equity group in Los Angeles, is working on a clean tech project in Puerto Rico and is involved with several other start-up ventures.

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May 29, 2013

Spoke to Nassim Taleb and Status Update SI2013

English: This is a photograph from the assortm...

Nicholas Nassim Taleb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a quick status update on the Startup Iceland 2013 organization. We did our site testing in Harpa, worked with the Reykjavik University Events team to organize all the requirements for the Unconference and Hackathon. We wanted to test the Televideo link ie Facetime with Nicholas Nassim Taleb, I have to say I was very nervous and excited to finally talk to one of my virtual mentors. He was really cool and jovial and conversational. I glad to have got connected to him and get him to share his views on the Startup Iceland Platform. He had accepted to come on Video for Startup Iceland 2013, how cool is that? anyway, I am sure a lot of you are wondering who is this and why I am giddy like a kid in a candy store… well, what Mr.Taleb has written about in his 3 very popular, best seller books are gems of advice on how to live. Maybe not everyone sees it but I am a big fan. Anyways, we finally got through to Mr.Taleb who was actually in Northern Lebanon, his hometown. We really wanted to stress test the fragility of technology, to all our surprise everything went smoothly we were able to connect to his laptop, got him on video, he showed off how nice the weather was in Northern Lebanon and we talked a little about the format and schedule. Mr.Taleb is going to come online for 10 minutes talk about Antifragility and Entrepreneurship.

All the guests flights are confirmed, bought, hotels and accommodation booked. itinerary and other logistics planned, still have some loose ends like transportation within the city. We are still struggling to get more participation, i.e we are not selling as many tickets as we thought we would but I am sure everyone will see the value in this conference and participate. We are calling everyone today and do a hard sell. We would like all startups to setup booths in RU to present their startup during the Hackathon and UnConference, we want those startups that are doing anything with Software to publish their API and get others to build something using the technology. We want everyone to come to the Unconference and talk about how to build a sustainable and antifragile startup ecosystem in Iceland. Please note this is for the future of Iceland. There very few times in our lives we get a chance to redefine, transform and reshape an community or for that matter build one. We have been presented with that rare opportunity in Iceland, I think everyone from the community needs to contribute, volunteer and mentor the future generation on how best to walk the path. I am sure the message will get out, we have been doing a lot of media outreach and got coverage in the Grapevine, MBL, Arctic Startup etc We have the East Coast Editor of TechCrunch coming over and Renee Blodgett, a writer and columnist for Huffington post. We will get a lot of coverage post event but we are trying to get more coverage pre-event so people can participate. I don’t even know if anyone is reading this post but I think I should give an update on how I am thinking and here it is.

May 17, 2013

SI2013 – Unconference

We are trying a new addition to the original Conference format in Startup Iceland 2013. I was very inspired to participate in an UNConference event that was hosted by Landsbanki last fall and the Facilitator for that event was Joshua Kauffman. It was great to get connected with him and invite him back to participate in Startup Iceland and facilitate the Startup Iceland UNConference this year. I would really encourage everyone to participate in the UNConference, it is a great free flowing atmosphere and gives rise to a lot of new ideas. I wrote about my experience of last event here. The great team Joshua-Kauffman-Headshot1-342x342

Joshua is a globally active design strategist, facilitator and investor, and principal collaborator in the Quantified Self movement.

With the Quantified Self, he works on the emerging opportunities in personal data and self-tracking that can enhance existing systems and lead to the invention of transformative new products and services.

Joshua also operates a global design practice that consults on projects in technology, innovation and International Development, and has clients ranging from large global companies to governments and foundations.

A good part of  his work is in lecturing and leading workshops, including facilitating innovation gatherings, design exercises and unconferences. Some recent venues have included Credit Suisse, GE, the MIT Innovation Lab, the OECD and the Landsbankinn Innovation Unconference.

Joshua has a degree in Globalization and a Masters in Design from Harvard, where he instructed and remains an affiliate of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society.

May 14, 2013

Lauf forks – Startup Profile

Magnús Ragnarsson

Magnús Ragnarsson (I really liked this picture, he looks good doesnt he?)

LaufForks_Heimasida6_900x514Magnus Ragnarsson was the host of Startup Iceland 2012 and we requested him if he would oblige us the same service this year for Startup Iceland 2013 and he agreed. Yay! Thank you Magnus. Magnus has been part of the media, entertainment and startup scene in Iceland since the very beginning days of OZ and Lazy Town etc and in addition to that he is avid cycler and is organizing the WOW Cyclothon. He pointed me to a new startup in Iceland called Lauf that has designed a shock absorber for bicycles that is 500 grams lighter than the competitors out there and it is all carbon fibre based there is no metal involved. I am no cyclist or know anything about bicycles but the design of this shock absorber is pretty cool. I think this startup has potential, that being said, I always come back to the same notion that it is not the idea or the product or how ingenious the solution is, it all comes back to how well you sell the story, tell the story, in what platform you tell the story and do you get attention from the main stream media to attract potential partners, investors and customers. Talking to Magnus it looks like this startup is going the same route as many startups in Iceland, i.e trying to figure out how to make this thing rather than trying to figure out how to sell this thing. I think Lean Methodology to sell this is best way to build a company. That being said, maybe the founders are doing that and I don’t have enough information to say what they are doing is right or wrong. I believe very strongly that there is a lot more to building startups and companies than a great idea. Anyways, check it out. The global bicycle market is massive multi billion dollar industry and providing parts to that industry is not a bad business.


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