Since 2012, I have been fortunate enough to be on the team that started Iceland’s first seed stage, mentor driven business accelerator, Startup Reykjavik. Setting up such a venture was neither evident nor self explanatory. Arion bank, my employer, already had plans on aiding the Icelandic startup community in some way at the time but did not necessarily know exactly how. The initiation of a program where entrepreneurs would have the chance to fulfill their dreams by starting a company, receive guidance through mentorship and a small investment, not only requires money but long term commitment. And much of both. Not to mention understanding of how early stage investing works and a whole bunch of patience. In general terms, these are perhaps not the first-in-mind qualities that a bank has (apart from a balance sheet) to most people.
But Arion bank has.