This year has been exciting for entrepreneurship in terms of numbers, news, conferences and enthusiasm. It seems like there is a ‘must-attend’ conference every week and that startups get created and bought out on a daily basis at valuations we have never seen before. Back in June Steve Blank stated that we were seeing the beginning of a bubble but it was not necessarily a bad thing because we see investments in new technologies. Six months down the road we have not seen the bubble burst yet, but who knows what will happen in 2012?
The advantage that we have in Europe is the variety of countries, cities, people and cultures. Very interestingly both the Wall Street Journal and Wired reported about the different entrepreneurial cities of Europe; Barcelona, Berlin, Moscow, Tallinn, and more. What is obvious is that each of these ecosystems is seeing a wave of 1st generation or 2nd generation entrepreneurs with good ideas, good teams and anxious to change the status quo.
We are seeing a growing numbers of local and international events in Europe. Those that want to go to important international conferences can do that. There is NOAH in London, LeWeb in Paris, and SIME now in Stockholm, Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Helsinki. Then there are very local or geographic base conferences like Seedcamp and Startup Europe and big award ceremonies like Techcrunch or more niche and very selective summits like F.ounders, White Bull and our own Venturepreneurs’ Summit. It is so motivating and inspiring seeing Europe unifying at these events and work together for entrepreneurship.
EU Emerging stars
In the past years there has been a lot of talk about Europe being the copycat factory of Silicon Valley startups. We don’t doubt that many have copied ideas from the USA, but 2011 has been a year where EU originals stepped on the world stage because of their achievements. Spotify is the music sensation of the web and has now landed in the USA. Skype has been sold to Microsoft in an $8.5 Billion deal. There are hundreds of original startups emerging from Europe - from enterprise software to mobile apps to new internet services and biotech. In the past years these startups have raised money and they are now ready to internationalize and become leaders in their industry.
Albeit a wave of innovation we do still see many copycats. This is a reality of Europe and not necessarily a bad one. Copycats are not always unimaginative or not innovative. Copying an idea in the same place where it started is much different than copying an idea in a new market with different languages, culture and so on. In addition it creates competition, a necessity to somehow differentiate itself, jobs and experience. Todays copycats could be tomorrow’s innovators and the experience gained by the founder and the team around him can just help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
2011 was a big year and 2012 might be even bigger. Silicon Valley has always been a step ahead but Europe is catching up at a fast pace and creating a unique and borderless environment. Now entrepreneurs can finally choose where to start a company. Capital, talent, infrastructure, networking, advisors and all the pieces of the puzzle can be found here. Therefore make 2012 the year of the entrepreneurs!