The Next Web: Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs in Europe











This week, innovation is on top of the agenda in Amsterdam. First, the European Commission, lead in this instance by Neelie Kroes has awarded European the most successful companies the Europioneers Prize.

Finally, in Europe one starts to understand that job growth will need to come from disruptive tech entrepreneurs. More and more, large corporate will embrace the innovation which comes from those companies that start without the end in mind.

The founder of Soundcloud, Alexander Ljung (see photo) won the European Tech Entrepreneur of the Year at the EuroPioneers. Soundcloud is a success, the Swedish founders have started a company that now reaches 180 miilion reach, offices globally, and has attracted investors. Today at The Next Web Conference he was was telling about his view on building companies in Europe. Here are his 5 insights:

 Building a Startup in Europe, how?

 1. Best Place to Start in Europe?

An accelerator prompted the founders of Soundcloud to start away from their home base. After some thought they understood that they needed to be away from it all, in order to accelerate in the first 3-6 months. Berlin had a vibe, art & tech, perfect for the company they had in mind. It worked out.

According to Alexander, Berlin & London are the best companies to start a company now, as many investors, corporates are looking to the startups in these cities.

 2. How to expand in Europe?

In Europe it makes sense to start expanding to another country, once you have a launching customer in that country. It increases the chances to succeed. It could be a client who has another outlet in another country and who wants to help you expanding this way. In this way growth in Europe is possible.

 3. How to set up locally?

Companies should organize themselves in Europe, that they only move the most functional people in the countries that they are operating in. Most of the times it means a sales office to start with.

 4. Investment in Europe?

As a European startup, do you attract European or US investors? If you are able to build up connections with investors globally, then you are able to attract money where it is the cheapest.

US VC’s are still looking for high risk investments. For European startups to have US investors, the upside is that it provides them with a global ambition. However, European founders need to put ample time in to raise money from US investors, as connections are built up informally. So it takes more time than people would think. With one trip you will not be able to build those connections.

European VC’s do not take as much risk as their US counterparts and want more specifics around the business model. On the other hand, European investors are great for assisting with European recruitment.

5. No excuses in Europe

Entrepreneurs need to make things work, and that’s their role. Finding excuses does not bring you any further. Failure is always around the corner, and thus risk control is important to monitor. However, the possibility of failure should be embraced in order to grow fast.

If you want to watch the conference, you can watch it life via the stream.

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