The next G20 YEA Summit: Solutions for Young Entrepreneurs’ Challenges in a Digital and Cross-border Economy

06/06/2017 07:46 am ET

Behind the scenes in Berlin with G20 YEA President Germany Carsten Lexa, LL.M.

Now that the internet and relatively low-cost flights are readily available, millennial entrepreneurs are doing business in a whole new way. Never before was it easier to set up a global network of customers and suppliers, as communication and people travel instantly around the globe.

But is the current legal structure up for the task, and what do governments need to do to support these new ways of entrepreneurship? If not, which solutions can be crafted?

We spoke with the G20 YEA President Germany, attorney at law Carsten Lexa. He is welcoming 500 young entrepreneurs of the G20 countries in Berlin for the annual G20 YEA Summit, with the intention to map out the challenges and to gather solutions around 21st century cross-border business.

Hosting a summit to enhance focus, communication and interaction on the topic of digitalization and the impact on young entrepreneurs sounds like a brilliant strategy.

But how does the German team pull off this logistical and diplomatic feat?

500 signatures endorse the communiqué of the 2013 summit in Moscow. Image courtesy of Carsten Lexa.

The idea of coming together with 500 other young entrepreneurs for 2 days (plus one day on which the Presidents and Sherpas of the member organisations of the Alliance meet) is pretty exciting on its own.

But what sets this summit apart is the intentional outcome.

Indeed, the summit format is a vehicle to find the best solution for the problems young entrepreneurs are facing. What the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance wants, is to act like a bridge between the young entrepreneurs and the leading politicians of the G20 countries.

Not only does the setup stimulate the entrepreneurs’ thinking-process, but Carsten explains that he wants to create a unified voice of young entrepreneurs who face the same problems. “We want to phrase these challenges into claims and recommendations and then give them to the G20 state leaders, to tell them, look, these are the problems that we encounter, but we also thought about the solutions. This is what we present to you in a communiqué.”

The content of this communiqué is chosen directly by the 500 entrepreneurs. During the summit, ten challenges and solutions will be presented to the entrepreneurs, and they will pick the three that will go into the communiqué. This is their chance to make their voices heard by the world leaders, and ignite a change to let today’s legal systems in the G20 countries catch up with the digital reality.

G20 YEA delegates at the 2015 Summit in Istanbul. Image courtesy of Carsten Lexa.

To fulfill the conference’s purpose, 500 young entrepreneurs are chosen by 20 delegation leaders. This happens through an intense selection programme. Working with national delegations means that the summit attendee list is a truthful representation of all the young entrepreneurs in the G20 countries. Carsten explains that for Germany, entrepreneurs had to answer to certain hard criteria such as an age limit of 40 and being a business owner. Next up was a selection based on whether they as a group would represent Germany in general.

“We especially want entrepreneurs who might not have very strong interests or don't have a lot of experience with digitalization because we want to know what they think and what their feelings are towards the changes,” he says. “If you only talk with people who live and breathe digitalization, you live in a bubble.”

G20 YEA President Germany Carsten Lexa, LL.M. Image courtesy of Carsten Lexa.

As the conversation goes on, we touch upon the topic of being the public face of such an event while doing full time business. His daily business activities and obligations at his law firm continue to require his attention, next to his duties as the hosting president of the G20 YEA summit.

How does he balance those two tasks?

“The answer is obvious, I just stopped sleeping. When you stop sleeping you have so much time to spare,” says Carsten, with a laugh. “No, to be serious, it's challenging, especially during the last couple of weeks towards the summit. But I would say it’s going quite well.” He ties his success to having a great team and great systems in place. And to maintaining a strict working schedule.

For the summit, part of Carsten’s priority is raising awareness for the event and its mentioning in the media. On the other hand, he is also involved in the interaction with the other nations and stakeholders, and meeting their requests for agenda topics or other interests.

This involves quite a bit of diplomacy. He says: “To accommodate the interests of different stakeholders, you might have to put your own ideas on hold. And sometimes you realize that you have to change the way you want to handle something.”

“But finishing such project makes me really proud”, Carsten adds. “Proud because of the Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland (JCI Germany) and because so many people contributed in ways that I did not expect when I started with the project. I made a lot of new friends and now I know who I should call when I need people who get things done. It was a great experience!”

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Thank you, Carsten Lexa, for taking us behind the scenes of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit.

The event will take place in Berlin on June 15th and 16th 2017. To find out more about the G20 YEA Summit, visit the website here.

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This conversation is part of Event Stories - a series of portraits conducted by Carolien Mertens Events for the Huffington Post. Event Stories are conversations between event planner Carolien Mertens and entrepreneurs who host innovative professional events.

If you are thinking about hosting your own live event, but need help getting started, head over here to download Carolien’s free started guide on planning a successful live event.

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