An Economist article from last week opened with the sentence I’ve chosen for the title of this post, and it goes on to give a good account of where the European startup ecosystem has gotten to over the ten to fifteen years it has been in existence, both positive and negative.
On the plus side they note the following:
In recent years, a lively environment for young companies has emerged in Europe, complete with serial entrepreneurs, experienced venture capitalists and the necessary supporting infrastructure, such as law firms and PR agencies. And it is most visible where Europe has been considered weakest: the internet and other parts of the information-technology industry.
The article goes on to do a good job of describing the things that make business for startups in Europe more difficult than in the US, including the old favourites a ‘lack of an entrepreneurial culture’ and our ‘fragmented market’. The silver lining here is that our situation is improving in all these areas.
When it comes to looking forward to the future, probably the most important point made is that success breeds success, and it looks like the next 12-24 months will be a period when we see more good news than we have in the last say five years. The article begins by describing four European tech companies that everybody is talking about in Silicon Valley (Spotify, Playfish, Vente Privee and Skype). Hopefully these companies and others will produce more good exits cycling cash back into the earlier stages of the ecosystem and providing roll models and case studies for the next generation of entrepreneurs. I hope also that some of these companies will remain independent and European.
As we know, building an ecosystem takes time. I think we can be pretty pleased with the progress we are making.