This post is written by Silla Jónsdóttir, CEO of Retina Risk
This week, I attended Startup Iceland in Reykjavik’s beautiful ‘Harpa’ conference center. This is a great event that has been held annually for eight years now. Founded by RETINA RISK Board Chairman, Bala Kamallakharan, Startup Iceland serves as the springboard and key annual event for those involved in the Icelandic startup world to share stories about their successes and challenges. This year’s Startup Iceland brought together dozens of startups, capital investors and future founders. Among the startups present were FlowVR, GreenVolt, Avo, Watty and, of course, RETINA RISK.
Dr. Einar Stefansson, the founder of RETINA RISK (and other startups like Oculis and Oxymap), shared his decades-long journey as a founder. Dr. Stefansson talked about the success of Oculis, which developed breakthrough eye-treatment nanotechnology, and highlighted the potential of RETINA RISK to eradicate blindness due to diabetes worldwide and how the risk calculator can help to make diabetic retinopathy eye-screening much more efficient and cost-effective.
Among other great speakers were Terry Jones, Founder of Travelocity.com and founding Chairman of Kayak.com; Kaidi Ruusalepp, Founder and CEO of Funderbeam; Skuli Mogensen, Founder of Wow Air; and Hjalmar Gislason, Founder and CEO of GRID.
I found the candor and enthusiasm shown by all these founders truly inspiring and walked away with many great ideas on paths to explore and others to avoid. I also greatly enjoyed the Brad and Om show, where two Silicon Valley icons, Om Malik and Brad Feld, shared their thoughts, experiences and future projections.
But what does Startup Iceland really mean for startups like RETINA RISK? I think it’s a tremendously valuable platform that for nearly a decade has played a leading role in bringing together founders and investors here in Iceland to make the magic happen.
Startup Iceland provides ample opportunity to learn from other founders and to share experiences with those involved in the startup world. The founders’ panel was packed with individuals who have been in the business for years. I found it invaluable to listen to the individual founders describe the pitfalls they had encountered and the tips they gave for success.
Startup Iceland is also a marvelous venue to meet both local and international capital investors. It is important to understand the investment theses of the various investors, get to know them personally and deliver your elevator pitch, again and again! I used my time well and got to rehearse the RETINA RISK core message several times during the day.
Last but not least, Startup Iceland serves to inspire us all and encourage to carry on the path we are on to deliver something great for our community and the wider world. In the case of RETINA RISK, we strive to empower persons living with diabetes around the globe to assess their individualized risk of developing sight threatening diabetic retinopathy, to monitor their condition and to motivate them towards better self-care. Eradicating blindness due to diabetic eye-disease is no small task. But I’m loving being a part of this noble effort, by spreading the word about RETINA RISK around the world.