Archives for posts with tag: europe

It seems to me that over the last 10 years the art of creating startups has come a long way in the United States. In fact it is striking that what was once an art is slowly turning into a science.  Books like The Lean Startup and reports such as The Startup Genome describe the processes that startups should follow to increase their chance of success. The authors have studied critical success factors and are spreading the word to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Of course these works can’t take credit for the success of the current batch of US startups but they do start to show that successfully launching a startup is not as unpredictable as previously thought. I would point to areas such as the quality of team, flexibility to pivot and openness to mentoring as some examples of what is driving success in the US and particularly in Silicon Valley. 

So what about Europe?  I feel we are still somewhat in the dark ages. The process of setting up a startup is often ignored in favour of the cool idea. European startup founders need to appreciate success will more likely be achieved by following some well tried steps. 

We have a great tendency to muddle through in Europe. I believe that has come about because in the past there was little choice. We just did not have the support infra-structure available to launch global startups. We didn’t have access to the early stage capital or the quality advisors needed to scale such businesses.  However, The Lean Startup and other such works show us how we can now launch great businesses without access to massive resources. 

So now it is largely about mindset and a willingness to accept these tried and tested concepts. By far the most important is the need to accept the need to build a strong team from a very early stage. An entrepreneur with an idea is not a startup and has little appeal to investors. US entrepreneurs realise that the strength of the team is paramount. 

The real challenge is how to build a team without significant funding. This all comes down to the ability of the founder to persuade potential team members of his vision. A credible founder with a strong vision will attract the best co-founders. This in turn will greatly increase the chance of success. 

ImageThe challenge here is building trust and this cannot be done overnight. This is why networks are so important. It is often stated that London does not have the close network that is found in clusters such as Silicon Valley.

In London it is possible to network with entrepreneurs every night of the week. It is simply a problem of maturity. We are not yet capable of team building in the way the Americans do.  This is often because we do not accept that a team is essential, preferring to make do. 

Online networks such as Dreamstake will go some way towards connecting entrepreneurs with the human capital they need to build scalable businesses. Such platforms help to build trust between members by encouraging regular interactions online and in the real world. For example, a strong network supports the non-technical founder in finding a CTO or the Technical founder find a business partner. These are not trivial issues in the current job market where quality resources are still very hard to come by.

If European startups are to make an impact, we need to change the mindset of early stage entrepreneurs. We need to instill the belief that it is possible to create world beating teams here in Europe and that it is not purely a US phenomenon. We need to provide the networks to allow entrepreneurs to identify the best people with whom to work and support them in building great European startups

Dreamstake is an online super-connector for startups.  We combine data from Linkedin and Crunchbase with other startup related details to provide a startup launch platform. A key feature is advanced profile search which allows entrepreneurs to find resources from across the 6000 members. We also connect entrepreneurs at our regular events and in the workspaces we partner with The Workspace Group.

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You are a European student with a passion to change the world with a great idea. You have evaluated your options and decide to resist the lure of the City. You see the success of startups in Silicon Valley and decide to give it a try here. You go to networking events and subscribe to blogs and start to look for a co-founder. You start to realise that it is tougher than you thought but does it really have to be this way?

There is a European disease that has many symptoms and probably the worst is we often don’t even recognise them. Firstly, there is an unwritten rule that we can’t be like Silicon Valley. We don’t have the infrastructure or the 50 years of experience to provide startups with the support they need.  I think this fails to recognise that the world is changing. The web opens up the startup world to infinite resources across the globe. Of course, it is in the interests of the investment community to claim that business only happens in small groups of insiders. Ironically, the tech investment community has been one of the slowest to leverage the power of the net.  Platforms such as Angel.co and kickstarter are starting to change the US scene. However, we have different needs in Europe.

ImageIn Europe we have to nurture earlier stage businesses. The whole market is less mature. However, the internet presents the opportunity to link startup hotspots with the resources they need. There is, for example, plenty of potential to link the best European startups with investors in the US who already recognise that startups over there are over-priced.

It has long been recognised that creating successful startups is about fusing the best human capital with the best advisors and supporting that with financial investment. The fact that this is all available in one place is becoming less significant.  No one can tell me that we don’t have the intellect in Europe to create a Pinterest or an Instragram!  What we do have is an extremely negative investment community that has little domain experience and little propensity for risk. This is backed up by mentoring networks that are stuck in a time warp and don’t understand social media and other trends.

It is these vested interests that shape the mindsets of young European entrepreneurs by pouring cold water on their business ideas.  I am sick of attending ‘so called’ startup conferences and listening to ‘late stage’ investors spouting on about the state of the early stage market.

Over the next few years we will see a renaissance of startup activity in Europe. The main startup hotspots will create their own startup success stories.  The best startups will gain visibility through platforms such as www.dreamstake.net and have access to funding from a far broader base.  This is all part of a trend towards democratisation of the startup scene that includes crowd funding and crowd sourcing.

Now is the time to start a European startup!

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