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"How do you create a startup spirit in employees? Just take their salaries away"

Startup Grind returned to the capital this week, packed full with more insight and advice for startups and budding entrepreneurs.

The main guest was Andrej Kiska, President of Slovakia and serial entrepreneur. After three failed attempts, Mr. Kiska created financial companies Triangel and Quattro, which quickly became market leaders and were both eventually sold to the Italian banking giant Intessa Sanpaolo.

He then turned his hand to philanthropy by founding Good Angel in 2005, now the most successful charity in the country with almost 200,000 donors and nearly £22 million in donations to date.

He was joined on stage by Eric Van der Kleij, founder of Tech City UK and Head of Europe’s largest fintech accelerator Level39, for a Q&A session attended by over 100 individuals.

Mr. Kiska started off by outlining his vision for schools and education, saying that it "is a top priority for any country" as "people in school now will be running our country in 20 years."

The conversation then moved on to challenges and the next steps for clusters, with both men being in agreement that it is vital for clusters and individual startups that they discover what makes their country unique. Eric said: "Anything that focuses on the strengths of your own cluster will work. Think through who you are and what your strengths are because more people will then get behind it."

One question from the event that really stuck with me was; If you were giving a lecture to a group of students, what would the title be? The Presidents answer, which received a generous round of applause, was "Don't be afraid to take your life into your own hands."

He expanded: "Don't be afraid to fail. With each success there are a lot of failures, I have failed so many time and I am here. In the end of our life the things we regret are now the things that went wrong, but the things we wanted to do and didn't try."

But the best quote of the night had to be from Eric, concerning factors that are holding back entrepreneurs from success: "How to do you promote that startup spirit in your employees? Easy, take their salaries away."

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