There are a lot of endeavours to strengthen the vibrant and emerging startup culture in Europe yet, in contrast to the [irony on] bigger and better [irony off] US, Europe has no geographical top spot for the tech industry. (Interestingly though, the Silicon Valley model seems to be breaking up in the US; New York, for example, is attracting more and more startups.)
On European soil there are definitely a number of hubs for entrepreneurs, such as London or Berlin, where a lot of successful startups are emerging and where – probably more importantly – an infrastructure exists. By infrastructure I am not referring to real estate and water, but rather to all the fun and cool stuff that comes with the “I’m doing a startup” package: startup mixers, collaborative office space, tech conferences, panel discussions, local blogs, entrepreneur dinners and, most notably, “entrepreneurial spirit”.
These crucial elements are available in the aforementioned European hubs, yet we still all have a way to go. Tupalo (and I think we can speak for most other Austrian startups as well) has not always had an easy life in Vienna. When we started the company in 2007, there was hardly anybody else in the Web consumer space. There have always been B2B high-tech companies, but not companies to which most people refer to as “Web 2.0 startups” (ICT consumer). Over the past years, however, this has changed dramatically, primarily due to initiatives by some amazing people and organizations wanting to drive this spirit in Europe. I’d like to point out some of those and please do excuse me if I’ve left out some important ones. Even better – let us know in the Comments.
Okay, I’m biased here since I occasionally write for TCEU, but what Mike Butcher (and Steve O’Hear) are doing has tremendous influence on Europe’s startup scene. Not only by building a central tech outlet in English, but also by kicking off projects such as TechHub. Having an editorial outlet that is connected to tech’s most important resource – information – is crucial. Mike Butcher’s plan to expand the TechCrunch Europe Event series across multiple countries is yet further proof of why this is awesome.
Straight out of London and the minds of some of Europe’s best and most prestigious VCs, Seedcamp aimed to be Europe’s Y Combinator and, as far as I can tell, they’re doing a really good job in succeeding. Since its inception in 2007, not only have some great companies come out of it, but also a series of Mini Seedcamps around Europe – an optimal outlet for startups to present themselves and an innovative mentorship program for entrepreneurs.
Only recently did these tech-savvy guys team up to help the German-speaking startup culture prosper. With a limited budget but unlimited enthusiasm, they’ve kicked of a series of startup events, including the most recent one attended by the likes of Daniel Mattes and Markus Wagner. Much more than that, they’re also providing pitch training to entrepreneurs and helping them get off the ground.
What Ville Vesterinen and his team have accomplished is some sort of Scandinavian “TechCrunch Europe”. That’s probably the best way to describe it: not only having northern Europe’s single most important editorial Tech outlet, but also by travelling through Europe and helping Nordic startups to succeed in other parts of Europe. A vast network of people and companies across the contintent are just some highlights of why ArcticStartup is so important for “Arctic startups”.
Although being a blog by definition, their ‘TheNextWeb Conference’ has become one of the leading Web conferences in Europe. Having editors around the globe, TheNextWeb not only manages to be another good read, but also acts as a hub for startups coming out of the Netherlands and surrounding countries. Having these outlets for local startups is just as crucial as Om Malik is for Silicon Valley.
Loic is probably one of the best connected individuals in Europe’s scene. He’s not only an entrepreneur himself, but over the past years he has built Europe’s most important tech Event: LeWeb. It’s the once-a-year event for Europe’s tech scene, VCs, advisors and startups. He’s probably the best example that French people DO also welcome people who do not speak French ;).
There are so many more out there that are helping to build a unified ‘Tech Europe’ and I kindly ask you to add your suggestions in the Comments. One thing is for sure: we do have the the Fred Wilsons of Europe, the bright tech stars who are not only looking into term sheets, but also have an interest in building Europe’s tech scene, generating exits as large as US exits and working on getting entrepreneurial mindsets into people who might have never thought of starting a company.
Sure there are lots of mountains to climb and successful companies to be built, but I think we’re on the right track. On the one hand Europe is more risk-averse, traditional and anti-entrepreneurial than the US. On the other hand it’s more sophisticated, cultural and complex (in terms of society). Sustaining the latter and evolving the former is easier than the other way round.
And, seriously, please let us know of all the other super cool initiatives out there.