Milan Notes


I was in Milan between the 17th and 20th of March to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and the Global Angel Investment Summit. For the first time ever, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress hosted a spectacular event for global angel investors.

The Global Entrepreneurship Congress is an annual congress of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. What I have observed until now was the missing part of the global entrepreneurship network: business angels. The main need of entrepreneurs throughout the world is access to finance, and the main access to finance for startups and entrepreneurs is via business angels. So Jonathan Ortmans, President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, initiated a very important action this year in the Milan Congress and announced the launch of the Global Business Angels Network with the founding partners being EBAN of Europe, ACA of America, BAE of Europe, and BANSEA of Asia. The new global entity will be co-chaired by presidents and high-level executives of these continental associations and federations. This is a perfect development for all start-ups and entrepreneurs throughout the world because, for the first time, entrepreneurs and business angels from seven continents are under the same umbrella. So I would like to congratulate Jonathan Ortmans for this important initiative that aims to ease access to finance for start-ups on one hand, and on the other will also ease intercontinental investments. Another great output of GBAN is that there is now a working platform where all business angels in more than 150 countries will be able to develop together co-investment funds for start-ups .

Another spectacular development in the Milan Congress was about Turkey.

Turkey became the first country-member of the United Nations of Business Angels. In line with the unanimous decision of the founding members, The Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA) will represent Turkey in Washington D.C.

TBAA, designated as the first national representative of the global business angels network, represents 70% of the angel investment community of Turkey and the TBAA President serves as the Vice President of European Business Angels Network (EBAN), headquartered in Brussels.


Italy has a capitalist mixed economy, ranking as the third largest in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world. The country is a founding member of the G7, G8, the Eurozone and the OECD.

Italy is regarded as one of the world’s most industrialised nations and a leading country in world trade and exports. It is a highly developed country, ranking as the world’s 8th highest quality of life and ranks 25th in the Human Development Index. In spite of the recent global economic crisis, Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately equal to the EU 27 average, while the unemployment rate (12.6%) stands slightly above the Eurozone average. The country is well known for its creative and innovative business, a large and competitive agricultural sector (Italy is the world’s largest wine producer), and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industries.

A gaping north–south divide is a major factor of socio-economic weakness. In addition, Italy needs to import about 80% of its energy requirements. Furthermore, in the Index of Economic Freedom, the country ranks 86th in the world because of an inefficient state bureaucracy, low property rights protection and high levels of corruption, heavy taxation and public spending that accounts for about half of the national GDP. Organised crime represents possibly €90 billion in receipts and 7% of Italy’s GDP.


Milan is the second most populous city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area is the 5th largest in the EU with an estimated population of about 5,264,000.

While Rome is Italy’s political capital, Milan is the country’s economic and financial heart. With a 2010 GDP estimated at €132.5 billion, the province of Milan generates approximately 9% of the national GDP; while the economy of the Lombardy region generates approximately 20% of the Italy’s GDP (or an estimated €325 billion in 2010,roughly the size of Belgium).


The province of Milan is home to about 45% of businesses in the Lombardy region and more than 8 per cent of all businesses in Italy, including three Fortune 500 companies. Milan is home to a large number of media and advertising agencies, national newspapers and telecommunication companies, including both the public service broadcaster RAI and private television companies like Mediaset, Telecom Italia Media and Sky Italia. In addition, it has also seen a rapid increase in internet companies with both domestic and international companies such as Altavista, Google, Lycos, Virgilio and Yahoo! establishing their Italian operations in the city. Milan is a major world fashion centre, where the sector can count on 12,000 companies, 800 show rooms, and 6,000 sales outlets (with brands such as Armani, Versace and Valentino), while four weeks a year are dedicated to top shows and other fashion events. The city is also an important manufacturing centre, especially for the automotive industry, with companies such as Alfa Romeo and Pirelli having a significant presence in the city. Other important products made in Milan include chemicals, machinery, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

milan1Other key sectors in the city’s economy are advanced research in health and biotechnologies, chemicals and engineering, banking and finance. Milan is the home to Italy’s main banking groups (198 companies), including Banca Popolare di Milano, Mediobanca, Mediolanum and UniCredit and over forty foreign banks. The Associazione Bancaria Italiana, representing the Italian banking system, and the Milan Stock Exchange (225 companies listed on the stock exchange) are both located in the city. The city can boast one of Europe’s largest trade fair systems of over 1,600,000 m2 (17,222,257 sq. ft.) and about 4.5 million visitors flock to the around 75 major events every year from all over the world as well as to the high-tech conference centres. Tourism is an increasingly important part of the city’s economy: in 2010, the city registered more than 2.3 million international arrivals, up 10% on the previous year.

Milan is presently undergoing a massive urban renewal. FieraMilano, the historical city trade fair operator, owned a fair ground known as ‘FieraMilanoCity’, which was dismantled to create a major urban development, CityLife district. The new trade exhibition center, built in the north-western suburb of Rho and inaugurated in April 2005, makes FieraMilano one of the largest expo areas in the world. Along with CityLife, many other construction projects are under way to rehabilitate disused industrial areas. Several famous architects take part in the projects, such as Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki, Zaha Hadid, Massimiliano Fuksas and Daniel Libeskind. Many of these projects are in preparation for Expo 2015.

GENGlobal Entrepreneurship Network

The Global Entrepreneurship Network is a platform of programs and initiatives to help people unleash their ideas and turn them into promising new ventures—creating jobs, unearthing innovations for society and strengthening economic stability around the world. Ranging from efforts to inspire and educate nascent entrepreneurs to advancing research and connecting global leaders in person, GEN is building one global entrepreneurship ecosystem. While it started as a grassroots movement anchored in established economies with stable political systems, GEN now operates in all types of economies and cultures.

More start-ups are now springing up in the most unexpected parts of the world. Entrepreneurial programs, capital and talent now travel far to find the most promising founder teams. National policy advisors are more savvy and attuned to the needs of their start-up ecosystems in an on-going quest to smooth the path for new firms to start and scale. However, such great success has brought new challenges.

This globalization of entrepreneurship has brought an explosion of programs, start-up communities and investment into a new field where there is a paucity of data around what works and what does not in supporting nascent entrepreneurs and new firms forming and trying to scale. Traditional business, and education and government leaders have been eager champions, but they need more sophisticated tools, programs and research to help them more efficiently direct their attention and funds to areas that have the greatest impact on future economic growth.

GEN is a compass to help address these needs by identifying effective initiatives that positively impact whole societies and interventions that target the most critical areas for entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

Global Board of GEN:

  • Jonathan Ortmans President, Global Entrepreneurship Network
  • Donna Harris Co-founder, 1776
  • Jeff Hoffman Founder, ColorJar
  • Rebeca Hwang Managing Partner, Rivet Ventures
  • Erik Pages Founder and President, EntreWorks Consulting

GEN Headquarters Team:

  • Jonathan Ortmans President
  • Mark Marich Executive Vice President
  • Alan Simensky Chief Financial Officer
  • Buke Cuhadar Vice President
  • Cristina Fernandez Director for Policy & Research
  • Alana Ramo Director of Strategic Partnerships
  • Nick Vilelle Director for African Initiatives
  • Genesis Lodise Director for Digital Media
  • Peter Komives Director for Network Integration
  • Charlotte Lamontagne Communications Manager
  • Hana Kefela Program Manager
  • Hope Grauel Strategic Projects Associate

Contact Info:

  • Global Entrepreneurship Network: 2400 N Street NW, Suite 603 Washington, DC 20037

Here you can find the full GEN 2015 Impact Reort:

GEN IMPACT TEPORT IR2015_031915_complete_sm

IMG_5961The must-visit websites for entrepreneurs, start-ups, high-growths, angel investors, academicians and policymakers

If you are an entrepreneur, start-up, angel investor, academician, or policymaker in the entrepreneurship eco-system of your country, then the followings are ‘must-visit’ websites for you. These websites are run by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) for global players of the early stage start-up and investment markets throughout the world.


To celebrate entrepreneurship:

To support entrepreneurs worldwide:

 To let entrepreneurs compete and win

To understand the secrets of entrepreneurship

To connect entrepreneurs with each other face-to-face:


IMG_5913Global Entrepreneurship Congress

As you can see from the above list, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) is one of the events that GEN organizes for global entrepreneurs. This Congress is a gathering of start-up champions from around the world, an event where entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers work together to help bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. The Congress brings together thousands of delegates from 150 countries to discuss economic and policy challenges around growing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Thanks in part to the Global Entrepreneurship Week, an entrepreneurial ecosystem has started to take shape around the world, connecting people across borders to unleash their ideas and transform innovation into reality—in turn, growing economies and expanding human welfare. To support the burgeoning initiative, the Kauffman Foundation brought together host organizations from nearly 60 nations to create the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March 2009 at its headquarters in Kansas City.

One year later, the Congress convened in Dubai with GEW’s entrepreneurship champions from more than 90 countries; it also had an all-star line-up of speakers including then-Prime Minister H. E. Nika Gilauri of Georgia and a number of accomplished entrepreneurs and CEOs. The profile of the Congress began to grow and countries began to compete for the right to host the event.

Shanghai was keen to show the world that it too was building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and in March 2011 it hosted the third Global Entrepreneurship Congress. GEW hosts from 100 countries were joined by more than 1,000 participants from across China for the extravagant opening session of the Congress. The importance of the event was evident from the participation of a number of Chinese government officials, led by Yan Junqi, vice chairwoman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress of China, as well as Wan Gang, the country’s Minister for Science and Technology and a number of other government representatives from the federal and local levels. Perhaps a bit more surprising was the presence of a number of China’s wealthier entrepreneurs and angel investors who had been leading the way toward new economic growth. At the end of the opening session, Jonathan Ortmans, chair of the GEC, announced that Liverpool had been selected to be the host city for 2012—and the evolution continues.
Richard Branson, famous for his Virgin brand empire, inspired delegates from 120 countries among a crowd of thousands. Along with other British titans of industry, Branson answered questions and shared insights based on years of experience. But as bright as the star power was in Liverpool, perhaps a more important shift began to occur—the international delegates were no longer populated solely by GEW hosts. The Congress began to attract diverse delegations from government ministries, university researchers, the media and more.

Rio de Janeiro played host to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. 115+ countries gathered to discuss high-impact entrepreneurship and innovation. Over the conference’s four days, attendees had the opportunity to hear from global policy and entrepreneurship experts. During the week there were over 70 events spread throughout Rio, bringing together thought leaders in entrepreneurship, including Brad Feld, co-founder of TechStars, Linda Rottenberg of Endeavor, and Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of New programs were introduced, including World StartUp Cup, The Ice House, Idea Challenge, and World Startup Report.

Moscow hosted the 2014 GEC, which, with over 150 countries represented, was the largest the GEC in its history. The event was awarded Best Business Event of 2014 from the Moscow Times.

This year it was in Milan. Next year, it will be in Colombia, and the year after it will be in South Africa.

GEC_logo_sm2Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2015  – Milan

The host city of the 2015 congress was Milan. The Congress was organised in co-operation with Meta Group of Italy in the largest congress centre of Europe.

Co-hosts of the Milan Congress:

  • GEN – Global Entrepreneurship Network

The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a year-round platform of programs and initiatives created by the communities that celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week each November.

  • Meta Group, Italy

An international, dynamic and independent group dedicated to the creation and growth of Knowledge Intensive Companies, for the wealth of open, entrepreneurial regions.

  • Kauffman Foundation, US

An international, dynamic and independent group dedicated to the creation and growth of Knowledge Intensive Companies, for the wealth of open, entrepreneurial regions.

Europe’s largest congress centre was designed in 2002 and doubled in size in 2005. The current extension (2011) will place MiCo – Milano Congressi among the largest conference facilities in Europe and worldwide, catering for up to 18,000 people in 70 or so fully appointed conference rooms with a permanent control booth. Featuring two plenary rooms, one with seating for 4,000 and the other for 2,000 and an auditorium that seats 1,500, it is the ideal venue for large-scale performances and for international conferences requiring a large number of rooms.

Here you can find the full programme and speakers list



jortmansJonathan Ortmans

Jonathan Ortmans is the President of Global Entrepreneurship Week and Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Those who have read my best-selling book Off the Bus, Into a Supercar! will recognize him as the writer of the foreword to my book. He also uploaded a very nice video for entrepreneurs after writing the foreword.

Here you can visit the official website of the book and enjoy Jonathan’s video:

Most recently, he has focused on developing a global engagement project called Global Entrepreneurship Week on behalf of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he has worked to align 140 countries to inspire, connect, mentor and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs. In doing so, he has helped assemble an informal coalition of roughly 8,000 organizations dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurial activity. Each November, millions of people participate in 20,000 activities.

It is in his capacity as president of Global Entrepreneurship Week that Ortmans serves as the chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, an annual gathering of start-up champions dedicated to building entrepreneurial ecosystems in communities and countries around the world. The GEC originated in Kansas City at the Kauffman Foundation and has since been hosted in Dubai, Shanghai, Liverpool, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow – ant this year in Milan. Speakers have included famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Marc Ecko as well as start-up champions like Brad Feld of TechStars and Dave McClure of 500 Startups mixing with government leaders like Alexei Komissarov. Komissarov is a former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year who is now leading Moscow’s drive toward entrepreneurial growth.

Ortmans brings a wealth of experience to the field, serving as a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, where he advises the Foundation on its global footprint and its interface with policymakers through the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship, a public policy initiative to focus attention on the importance of entrepreneurship to the economy and society. Based in Washington, DC, Ortmans also serves as an interface between new research and initiatives to advance entrepreneurship at the Foundation and the questions and concerns that arise from policymakers in the nation’s capital.

In addition to his work in the field of entrepreneurship, Ortmans also serves as president of the Public Forum Institute, where he has more than 20 years’ experience in engaging citizens, experts, community leaders, and elected officials in substantive discussions. These discussions counter the growing trend toward soundbite education by helping citizens develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing their communities and their nation. In this role, Ortmans has created a number of national initiatives with government agencies, corporations, foundations and other entities which have engaged millions of citizens at public forums in all fifty US states. For example, since 1992 he has chaired and facilitated more than 300 public forums on health care policy issues throughout the United States including Americans Discuss Health—roughly 125 congressionally-chaired forums—and the Citizens Health Care Working Group, which convened forums enabling real public input into policy currently being debated in the 111th Congress. With the Genetics & Public Policy Center of Johns Hopkins University, Ortmans has facilitated two national series of interactive town halls on advances in and the use of reproductive genetic testing and in 2007 that explored public perceptions of the feasibility of national a human bio-bank.

He has a background as an entrepreneur, being part of his first start-up team at the age of 19 in his native United Kingdom and starting PFI at 34 after a career on Capitol Hill working for the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee focusing on trade policy. He blogs regularly for the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship as well as Global Entrepreneurship Week. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect with him via LinkedIn or Facebook.

You can follow his articles at his personal blog:

Here are his social media addresses for you to reach out to or follow him:



GLOBAL-BUSINESS-ANGELS-NETWORKUnited Nations of Business Angels: GBAN – Global Business Angels Network

The most important output of this year’s congress was the announcement of the launch of the Global Business Angels Network. It was announced by Jonathan Ortmans on the 19th of March morning in the opening speech of the Angel Investment Summit part of the congress, with the participation of the Presidents of the Regional Federations like ACA from USA, EBAN and BAE from Europe, ABAN from Africa, BANSEA from Asia.

Cross-border collaboration and syndication among angels and angel federations has come a long way since the 1999 initiation of the EBAN, The European Trade Association for Early Stage Market Players. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation launched the Angel Capital Association (ACA) in 2005, and the Portuguese Federation of Angels initiated the World Business Angel Association (WBAA) in 2009.  All have helped lay the groundwork for the next generation global network, open to all serious non-institutional funders of entrepreneurial ventures: the Global Business Angels Network (GBAN).


GBAN brings greater public awareness and engagement to the role business angels play in helping new firms start and scale. It interfaces with entrepreneurs, policymakers, other early-stage finance actors and leading entrepreneurial support programs to strengthen the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.

tbaa_verticalTurkey becomes the first country-member of the United Nations of Business Angels. In line with the decision unanimously taken by the founding members, The Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA) will represent Turkey in Washington, D.C.

Another important development on the same day was the announcement of Jonathan Ortmans in the afternoon session of the March 19 Angel Investment Summit.

The Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA) became the first national member of Global Business Angels Network (GBAN), Jonathan Ortmans announced at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan. The TBAA will represent Turkey at the United Nations of the global community of business angels and early stage markets. The GBAN Executive Committee selects one organization per country to serve as the interface between that nation’s angel community and GBAN efforts.

Selection criteria:

  • Recognised as neutral and inclusive by angel organizations in that country;
  • Open to engaging actively with other local Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) members to improve the local entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Willing to help angels and others engage in start-up and scale-up community efforts.

Here you can find the press release about TBAA’s membership.

Immediate Press Release

Here is a list of media reports about this press release:

  • Angel News – UK

  • Middle East Business Review

  • Balkans Business Review

  • Istanbul Stock Exchange, Turkey

  • Istanbul Finance Center, Turkey

  • Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey


spark_156_1A New Programme from the White House: Spark the Global Entrepreneurship

As you may know, President Obama hosted the Presidential Entrepreneurship Congress in 2010 and I was the only participant who was granted a personal audience with the President. You can read the whole story about why President Obama met with me personally in my book, which you can find at (also available for Kindle).

In Milan, I was informed by Brett P. Bruen, Director of Global Engagement, National Security Council of The White House that a brand new global programme called ‘Spark the Global Entrepreneurship’ is on the way – this is one of the outputs of the original Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.

Jonathan Ortmans is one of the co-chairs of this programme.

#StarttheSpark is being led by a coalition of leading organizations working on entrepreneurship. It seeks to build a conversation, a community, and a coalition to advance entrepreneurship around the world. Vice President Biden announced our Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative last fall.  Through premier entrepreneurship programs, the U.S. government seeks to spark more than a billion dollars in new investments in emerging

Spark could provide a powerful platform for connecting, coordinating, and collaborating across programs. These organizations are starting to lay the foundations for that entity. You can get involved. I’m attaching a social media toolkit and encourage you to share #StarttheSpark conversation on your own social media channels. You can visit their pages via:

–          Facebook:

–          Twitter:

This conversation will continue to gather momentum over the next several months, as we work toward this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Sub Saharan Africa.

  • What is Spark?

A common goal, symbol, and platform for connecting diverse programs working to promote entrepreneurship and increase investments in emerging entrepreneurs around the world.

  • Why a conversation?

Sparking a conversation can help create a community of organizations, companies, and people that want to do more to support entrepreneurs. With the input, ideas, and energy of this community, the Spark coalition can build a strong foundation. The goal of this conversation, kicked off around the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, is to involve the broadest possible coalition in the creation of Spark. The conversation starts with stories about and support for a few core beliefs.

  • Where did the Spark start?

At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit last fall, Vice President Joe Biden announced a bold goal for the best work being done by the U.S. Government to advance entrepreneurship around the world: help emerging entrepreneurs generate over $1 billion in new private investments in entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, with more than half raised by women and youth. As President Obama said, ‘Over the next three years, we’re aiming to spark more than one billion dollars in new investments in the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world—to help them open a new business, expand into new markets and ignite the next era of innovation and growth.’ This ambitious initiative sparked the attention of a number of leading organizations, companies, and figures working on entrepreneurship who gathered at the White House to discuss how they might collaborate. This coalition is coalescing around a number of key goals, ideas, and actions. Their first step is to open a conversation about the common goals shared by those working to promote entrepreneurship. Together, the effort can help to increase communication, coordination, and collaboration across all our efforts to support entrepreneurs around the world. Connecting these entrepreneurial sparks can help set alight a bright beacon of new hope, shared purpose, and opportunity.

  • What is the U.S. Government’s Spark initiative?

The programs selected to the President’s Spark initiative represent the best work being done by the U.S. Government to advance entrepreneurship around the world. They commit to generate at least $10 million dollars over three years for emerging entrepreneurs, with more than half raised by women and young entrepreneurs. The initial commitments toward this goal totalled over $1 billion dollars that would be generated by the end of 2017. The programs agreed to co-brand their communications with the Spark logo, while working to more closely link their programs to increase their reach and impact.

  •  Core beliefs of the programme:
  • I believe in creating the conditions for the entrepreneurial spark to be lit and fuelled.
  • I believe in the need to fan the flames of our entrepreneurial spirit.
  • I believe in collaborating with others to ignite new entrepreneurial sparks and spread their reach.

More information about this new programme is available at:

IMG_5974Turkish Airlines: Invest On Board

Turkish Airlines was one of the sponsors of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan. Turkish Airlines has an excellent programme to support start-ups. The name of the programme is Invest On Board.

The Invest On Board Programme is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for investors flying Turkish Airlines to invest in hand-picked start-ups. In partnership with Turkish Airlines, this application features the video pitches of strong start-ups with huge potential.

Exclusive, easy to watch, and replay-able, Invest on Board is the in-the-sky opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Watch the video to learn more. Finding the next big business has never been so effortless.

Here you can apply for the programme as a start-up or watch the start-up pitches as an investor:

BAYBARSThis programme had brought Turkish Airlines and the Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA) Award for The Best Startup-Friendly Company of South East Europe at the 15 December 2014 gala dinner of the European Business Angels Investment Forum. Vice President Ahmet Olmustur accepted the award on behalf of Turkish Airlines at the Shangri-La Bosphorus Hotel.

Here you can watch the awards ceremony:

Here you can access my article about the Invest On Board Programme in Para (Money), Turkey’sweekly economy magazine.

My article in Weeklly the MOney of Tur: 92

milan1Day 1:  17th of March, Tuesday

I arrived at the Malpensa Airport of Milan at 3pm92 after a 2.5-hour flight with Turkish Airlines. It was an ageing airport with some construction around. My Slovenian transfer-guide was waiting for me at Gate 5 with a clean shuttle bus. It was a rainy day and it was a comfortable 40-minute trip from the airport to the Ibis Hotel Milano Centro, which was in the city center.

I arrived at the hotel around 4.30pm and was in my small room a few minutes later. The hotel is nice, the staff is friendly but the rooms are very small. However, more important than the size of the rooms was the strategic importance of the hotel. All the key people of the organisation team were staying at this hotel, so it was perfect for me. By the way, except for the size of the room, everything was fine.

Around 6pm, Candace Johnson, EBAN President,  arrived at the hotel. She had come to Milan from Nice. After she settled into her room, it was time for an EBAN Board meeting. From 6.30 until 7.30 pm, we held an online EBAN Board Meeting in Milan with the participation of EBAN staff from Brussels and EBAN Board Member colleagues from different countries.

Around 8pm, Candace and I met at the hotel bar, where we had a long meeting about the organisation of the Eindhoven conference.

Around 11pm, I was in my bed and it was time to re-charge myself for the following day.

gate17Day 2: 18th of March, Wednesday

After a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we were taken to the Congress venue. We were on the bus promptly at 8am, as it was announced it would depart at 8.15am, but the it didn’t depart until around 9 and it was a 30-minute drive in the morning traffic jam of Milan. Thanks to this slow-motion morning traffic, I had the opportunity to take in the view of Milan’s streets. Lovely!

We were at the Congress Center – the biggest Congress Center of Europe – around 9.30am and after a quick check-in, I was given my badge from the Speakers Corner. Speakers were given a distinctive badge with an Orange Point on the surface; this opened the doors of the VIP lunch area on the 6th floor.

I immediately ran to the main congress room for the main speeches of the day. There I met with Ali Arslan, General Director of the Financial Sector Relations & Exchange of the Turkey’s Treasurey DEpartment and Hakan Erturk, Head of the Department from the same institution.

I introduced them to my friend, Jonathan Ortmans, Chair of the Congress.

After the main speeches, we had a coffee break in the networking area of the congress center, where we met with all delegates from Turkey. This year in the Congress, there was a big Turkish delegation, including representatives of regional development agencies, Turkish Airlines, business angel networks, NGOs from the entrepreneurship eco-system of Turkey and universities.

I also met with friends from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Nigeria, Netherlands, Belgium, and many countries I don’t recall just now.

IMG_5931Around 3pm, we decided to leave the congress center and visit downtown Milan. We considered it a ‘must’ to see the world-famous Milan Cathedral. We also wanted to try out the metro of Milan, which took us downtown in 15 minutes.

After visiting the cathedral area, I had a nice walk with Milos and Ivan with the ice-creams we bought from the marvellous shopping arcade just next to the cathedral.

After our chat, I took the metro to the station nearest my hotel – which was actually just a 5- minute walking distance. The weather was better and it was no longer raining.

When I arrived back at the hotel, it was time to change into our suits and wait for our transfer to the gala dinner. The gala dinner was by invitation only, so I couldn’t invite my other friends unfortunately.

The dinner started around 9pm with presentations of the co-sponsors and supporters of the Congress. After the presentations, we moved to the dinner venue of the building. It was a nice dinner followed by an awards ceremony and numerous events of the GEN.

After the dinner, we were taken back to the hotel around 11.30pm.

IMG_5966Day 3: 19th of March, Thursday

After having breakfast and transferring to the congress center, I was in the room of the Angel Investment Summit with Candace Johnson, President of EBAN. After the announcement of the launch of GBAN – the Global Business Angels Network – in the opening speech of Jonathan Ortmans, it was time to listen to the panels and speeches of this section.

Jonathan announced the first national member of GBAN in the afternoon around 3pm: Turkey and The Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA).

I had planned to attend all sessions on the 19th, but I had to change my programme and leave the congress room by 3pm. My original booking for return flight was on the 20th, but because a strike at the Milan Airport was announced for the 20th, I changed my flight to the evening of the 19th. So I had to leave the congress center in the afternoon to go to airport.

My flight was at 6.50pm and I was at the airport by 5.30pm. I went to the CIP Lounge after using the fast-track passport service. I enjoyed the CIP lounge immensely. Not as big as the Istanbul CIP, but quite good.

It was now time to fly back to Istanbul after a 3-day rush.

Thanks Jonathan, thanks Alana, thanks Hope, and thanks to everybody who contributed to the realisation of this Congress.

See you in Colombia next year!


IMG_5980 IMG_5979 IMG_5978 IMG_5945 IMG_5942 IMG_5929 IMG_5925 IMG_5922 IMG_5915 IMG_5912


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