Startups hold the power to bring positive disruptions to the world. In this interview for Horyou blog, Pere Duran, 4YFN (4 Years From Now) Director, talks about the global interest of investors for startups opportunities, social innovation and Blockchain technologies.
Every year, 4YFN is gaining more attention and visibility and it’s conquered the status of a mandatory place to be among Mobile World Congress (MWC) visitors. Could you tell us about the growing importance of the event throughout the years?
The astronomical growth of 4YFN in the last few years reflects the increased appetite by investors and corporations to see growth stage companies, and the robust health of the startup ecosystem which is keen to be seen. Each year we see an uptick in attendance from all quarters and each edition we see the key technologies evolve. We are continuing to grow in Barcelona and are now spreading our wings in LA and Shanghai too. Shanghai, for instance, is expected to double in size this year showing that the appetite for startup opportunities is global.
What are the plans to come for 4YFN – to become an autonomous event or to be intrinsically connected to MWC?
4YFN is more closely linked to MWC than ever, having been recently fully acquired by the GSMA, which owns both events. It means that we are even more inextricably linked than we were before, but of course we have our own identity and purpose. We run the events in separate venues and put together a specific program for our audience. Our goal is to give as much visibility to the startups as we can and keep them at the centre of everything we do. We also continue to grow in other ways and other geographies, for instance, we recently had an event in Buenos Aires with Mobile 360 and will do something similar in Mexico in June.
What is the importance given to social entrepreneurs and sustainability projects?
Social entrepreneurs and sustainability projects are intrinsic to the startup ecosystem and what we do. Tech4good is a key theme of 4YFN19 and we are seeing a whole host of social projects among our startups this year. If entrepreneurs don’t change the world, then no one will. We are extremely happy to welcome great speakers from the social sector, to mention a few, Mariamme Jamme, her goal is to empower 1 million young women and girls globally to become coders by 2030 and the President of Spain of the Red Cross, who will be running a competition for technological innovation aimed at humanitarian purposes.
Do you think funders and investors are aware of and convinced about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals? How?
Yes, I believe that people are fully invested in the Sustainable Development Goals and you see many organisations, like GSMA, putting a lot of resource behind achieving them. The problems they address are very big and very complex. Any progress is a step in the right direction but we have a very long way to go! I’m hopeful that the mSchools challenge at 4YFN this year that invites students to hack a Sustainable Development Goal will bring some radical thinking to move us in the right direction.
Horyou has recently launched HoryouToken to support social inclusion and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Do you see more Blockchain projects rising among the startups and entrepreneurs who are part of 4YFN?
Blockchain is another key theme of this year’s conference. What we are seeing is a more lateral approach to Blockchain technologies that moves them beyond cryptocurrencies. Blockchain became very over-hyped on the back of bitcoin mania, so we might not be seeing a rise in the actual numbers of Blockchain startups, but certainly a rise in the quality of the technologies and a much deeper understanding of the possibilities Blockchain offers.
4YFN is a Horyou Media Partner