Looking back on our trip to Mongolia, I can't help but not think how exciting the entrepreneurial community is in Mongolia. When you think of Mongolia, you think nomadic heritage, mining, even lamb (!) -- not necessarily entrepreneurship. But innovation and drive is what I saw at the Startup Weekend that we attended. I was so impressed by the pitches that we saw and the level of buzz and activity in the room. All of the people who attended the conference were there to meet people, get to know us from MIT and ask for advice on how they could improve their ventures. One person that struck me the most was an app developer. He told me that he did not finish college and instead taught himself how to program. I asked him how he learned to program, and he told me that he watched all of the free video lectures from the MIT and Stanford websites! I was completely blown away by this. Such conviction and resourcefulness are so rare even in the West, let alone an emerging economy like Mongolia. He even showed me his app which was a type of social networking tool. Everyone there had ideas around tech, mobile, social networking, health care, and many more. It was so refreshing to see and hear all of the ideas.
I was also very impressed by Startup Weekend Mongolia themselves. SW Mongolia is a local non-profit, founded in June 2011 by a community of Mongolian entrepreneurs and leaders. The organization strives to inspire, educate and support entrepreneurs that generate social values. Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! The organizers have held 3 events to date and have helped educate over 300 entrepreneurs in Mongolia thus far.
I am sure that we will see some exciting and innovative things to come out of the Mongolian entrepreneurs!