Industry experts continue to claim that Europe is hostile territory for startups. In fact, a Facebook VP went as far as to claim that regulations and taxes in Europe are pushing the best would-be innovators to flee to the US.
However, we at AngelHack agree with the Dowager Countess.
Europe is nowhere near bankrupt in capital, talent or ambition. Those are the building blocks of a healthy startup ecosystem making Europe more than able to compete on the global stage.
2015 has been called a “breakthrough year” for Europe according to data presented at Slush Conference in Helsinki. Source. An estimated $10 billion will be invested this year in Europe’s tech startups, Europe’s tech talent pool is nearly equal to the number in the U.S with 1.6 million professional developers at work. There have been more than 100 European tech IPOs in the last 5 years, MORE than in the U.S. Source.
With these building blocks set in motion by determined European entrepreneurs and changemakers, we at AngelHack are thrilled to expand our Global Series throughout Western and Eastern Europe!
So what’s the biggest challenge for European startups? Many believe it is scaling. Euro-based entrepreneurs do not have the gargantuan American domestic markets where companies can incubate, nor the world’s most advanced VC ecosystem to access funding options. This makes it harder to emerge onto the world stage once these concepts reach critical mass.
Scaling early stage concepts just happens to be AngelHack’s specialty. The AngelHack Global Series includes hyperlocal hackathons in both up and coming cities as well as established tech hubs in Europe (check our latest confirmed cities). Winners from each city will go through our pre-accelerator program, the HACKcelerator, where they will build momentum through mentorship, a growth-centric curriculum, and the opportunity to t pitch at our Annual Global Demo Day. This is where top tier startup accelerators – including Y-Combinator, TechStars, and 500 Startups – and investors are invited to see what Europe and the rest of the world is capable of. AngelHack is therefore a fast and efficient way to fuel the Silicon Valley experience into the European startup ecosystem.
This is not a one way exchange, though. Wherever we travel, we see something we can learn from and Europe has done so many things better than the rest of us. One European example is from the land of Skype and Spotify, the second most prolific tech hub in the world on a per capita basis, and the most digitally connected economy in the world with 7% of global billion dollar exits. SWEDEN.
Sweden may hold a lesson for us all: In the 1990s, the Swedish government invested heavily in its technology infrastructure, establishing high-speed internet, giving citizens tax breaks to buy computers, and establishing digital education which equipped Swedes with “the digital savvy to become a nation of disruptors.” Source
Let’s take a look at what some other European cities have been up to:
Moscow, Russia — Did you know entrepreneurship in the Soviet Union was illegal? And now Russia is experiencing a tech “Renaissance”? Source.
Berlin, Germany — The rivalry between London and Berlin has served startups in both tech hubs well. Many government programs have emerged to retain the country’s innovators. Berlin is a top global thriving startup hub with a worldwide reputation for online innovation. A McKinsey report estimates that Berlin startups will create over 100,000 jobs by 2020. Source.
Dublin, Ireland — Dublin has positioned itself as one of the most prominent cities in the FinTech, Bitcoin, and the blockchain world today. Source.
Sofia, Bulgaria — Bulgaria ranked 4th in Europe in terms of investments made in startups and holds the lowest corporate tax rate in the EU: 10%. The strong tradition in engineering, low salaries, and EU membership = excellent outsourcing opportunity. Challenges still include an ancient bureaucracy, too much administrative details and remnant corruption. Source.
Barcelona, Spain — Barcelona has a high availability of talent and has new tax breaks + government funding after the economic crisis which has sparked positive economic activity. There is a 134% increase in investment activity, but this is still small in overall size relative to other European tech hubs. Most VC funding is coming externally from the US or UK. The two hottest sectors are FinTech and e-commerce. Source.
Lviv, Ukraine — Called the “Little Paris” of Eastern Europe, this city is definitely an emerging hot spot with 15K IT professionals and 20% predicted annual growth in this IT cluster. Some say that the same way a crisis spawns creativity, the conflicts over the past decade have sparked the entrepreneurial spirit so the youth here want to harness their skills towards very worthy aims. Source.
Novosibirsk, Russia — Called “Russia’s rival to the California tech hub”, this area had an influx of Russia’s greatest minds during the Cold War so they wouldn’t lose their most intelligent people if Moscow was “wiped off the map” through nuclear attack. This city helped earn the following reputation in the sphere of technology: “if you have something tough, give it to the Americans. If you have something impossible, give it to the Russians.” Source.
Another area where Europe excels and sets an example for us all, is the model for societal good above the individual getting rich. European social welfare is a model for the world, and we are seeing their startups focus heavily on social + eco innovation, the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. As the rest of the world slowly learns that social responsibility is actually very good business, Europe will already be ahead in this game. This year our Global Series is looking for these innovations and has set aside the Code4Impact Award for ideas that utilize technology to spark social or environmental change. We can’t wait to see what our Euro community will create.
Learn more about our Am(badass)adors below, and check out our latest cities to register to attend one of our hackathons.
To be continued,
Christina & Mitchell
Regional Managers, Europe
Meet our European Ambassadors!