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Mapping Out Startups: Q&A with Sissel Hansen, the Entrepreneur behind Startup Guide

In a conversation with Startup Guide's founder, Sissel Hansen lets Managing Editor Leena ElDeeb in on some of her observations and plans for the future.

It all started when Sissel Hansen moved from Copenhagen to Berlin in 2012, under the impression it would give her more space and opportunities when launching her own business. But Berlin is not all rainbows and butterflies, Hansen soon discovered that launching a startup was still a difficult process in the German capital.

In her journey to collecting resources and connecting with investors, Hansen thought: ‘Why not make this info accessible to other founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the city?" So, she began drafting a document that later evolved into what is known today as Startup Guide.

After publishing the first guidebook in Berlin two years later, Startup Guide further evolved into a publishing and media company that releases guidebooks to entrepreneurship in respective cities, expanding city by city each year. It currently covers a scope of over 25 ecosystems. 

Startup Guide has just started its Egyptian chapter and will celebrate it with a book launch party at Startup Haus on September 18. In this occasion, we speak to Hansen about her reflections and observations.

Q: Each city in the world has its own character. After years of studying startups in different cities, what common characteristics have you found that successful ecosystems share? 


We’ve started to notice that startups can only really be viable in the long term if they’re committed to solving pressing issues. Previously, entrepreneurs could develop products that didn’t necessarily have a broader impact, but that model for success has quickly become outdated. When we first explored the idea of highlighting the work of pioneering startups in South Africa, for example, we immediately noticed that many of those startups were rooted in issues of sustainability and social responsibility. Cairo has also shown that it can support forward-thinking entrepreneurs and provide them with a good foundation to build impact-focused businesses and ultimately achieve success on a global scale.

Q: What is new about the Startup Guide this year?


This year we’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to explore new ecosystems all over the world. We just launched our first two books in Africa (in Cape Town and Johannesburg) and we launched our first book in Asia (in Singapore) in March. Over the next few months, we’ll be unveiling guides in Cairo and Los Angeles, before heading back to Asia to launch in Bangkok and Tokyo. Additionally, we’ll be launching books in Amsterdam and Brussels.

Q: What is next for Startup Guide? 


We’re thrilled to continue exploring new ecosystems and shed light on the businesses that have the potential to make a positive global impact. Currently we’re working a regional guidebook, Startup Guide Switzerland, which highlights the efforts of key impact-focused players in ecosystems throughout the country. More and more startups are incorporating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into what they do, and it’s important that these entrepreneurs get their due. In doing so, we hope to inspire the next generation of creators to continue tackling the world’s most pressing issues.


To RSVP to the launch event, click here.

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