[The following is a guest post by Adam Rosenfield]

From Texas to Thailand, and Tel-Aviv to Tuscaloosa, 3 Day Startup has had a presence somewhere in the world over the past eight years.

2015 was no different. While Vigo, a small municipality in Galicia, Spain, had hosted a 3DS before, this time was different: participants would actually be on a boat, working on different projects to benefit the marine environment that exists in Vigo.

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Birds eye view of the venue for 3DS Vigo

 

This was a large undertaking, and 3DS needed someone who could be counted on to be up to the task. Naturally, Elena Garcia Pont was up to the task. Her son participated in the first 3DS in Spain in Barcelona in 2011, and she herself has organized six 3DS programs in Spain.

“My experience lies in how to build a great team, and how to behave in a team,” Garcia Pont said.

Elena does a quick television spot, live from Isla San Simon island.
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Elena does a quick television spot, live from Isla San Simon island.

How did the idea of 3DS Vigo come about? Garcia Pont was speaking at a variety of conferences across the country, and managed to get into a conversation about creating a 3DS outside the entrepreneurial enclaves of Barcelona and Madrid. The government of Vigo was adamant in finding ways to promote the Isla de San Simon.

Vigo would be a challenge, she said, as it was smaller, and a little less entrepreneurial than other big cities in Spain. While the last 3DS program in Spain was focused on healthcare, and other programs had been more open in terms of industry, she worked to recruit those people who had marine backgrounds, as Vigo is well known for its fishing and sea resources.

Fresh off the boat - 3DS Vigo participants were clearly excited to get started.
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Fresh off the boat – 3DS Vigo participants were clearly excited to get started.

“We managed to get a wide variety of participants- over 80% were interested in water,” Garcia Pont said.

“There was a biologist, and some who had experience in biochemistry and biotechnology. There was even a participant from Portugal.”

For Garcia Pont, the most important aspect of a 3DS is that the space where all the action occurs has a good Wi-Fi signal.

Wi-fi was a problem, but it wasn't enough to disrupt an exchange of ideas
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Wi-fi was a problem, but it wasn’t enough to disrupt an exchange of ideas.

That was a big problem.

“We arrived and the signal wasn’t good,” said Garcia Pont, with a chuckle. “We thought it’d be perfect, but the spotty signal forced us to stay and work in different rooms”.

“I guess that’s the true experience of entrepreneurship though- you have to make due with what you have to be able to create.”

While the Wi-Fi was spotty, and participants weren’t able to perform face-to-face customer discovery that is a staple of other 3DS programs, Garcia Pont saw a more collaborative environment in closed quarters, which led to the group being “one big family.” Participants in Vigo had to create surveys use their phones to cold-call possible customers, which some techies found just a little challenging, but produced more quality work.

“Since they had the whole island to themselves, it seemed like everyone was more focused, and the ideas were better.”

Maruxa (far left), a professor at University of Vigo, helps unpack refreshments for the program.
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Maruxa (far left), a professor at University of Vigo, helps unpack refreshments for the program.

“Galicia has very old fashioned approaches to problems that face the municipality, and we were able to foster innovation in a challenging environment. The mentality is completely different in Vigo, and I think the entrepreneurs felt that way as well.”

Some of the companies that came out of 3DS Vigo included Pezcontrol, which was a software that is designed to speed up and support and optimize detection and diagnosis of diseases of fish, and Find The Children, which is a tool for the identification of missing children based on facial recognition.

Overall, the 38 participants developed six projects to benefit the marine environment. Garcia Pont was grateful that because of the close-quarter environment, many participants have stayed in touch with each other.

Iberian students worked on maritime-related startups at 3DS Vigo.
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Iberian students worked on maritime-related startups at 3DS Vigo.

Now that 3DS has conquered a boat and six continents, where will the next program be? In a desert? On a plane? One only knows….

 

 

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