The following is my (slightly edited version) foreword of a new book that is being released today. Written by one of our co-founders, Croatian entrepreneur / writer Ivo Špigel, and co-published by Tech.eu, we’re extremely proud to present you with ‘The European Startup Revolution’.
The book bundles stories from, and interviews with 28 European technology entrepreneurs and investors who’ve made an impact on business or society, each in their own way. Ivo has been collecting these stories over multiple years, finally starting a crowd-funding campaign almost a year ago to release the entire series in book form. And now it’s here.
Backers of the campaign are receiving their books / perks over the next few days, making for a nice gift for under the Christmas tree. Our gift to you is putting the book up for sale today!
You can purchase the e-book (PDF, though we can also provide you with the book in EPUB, MOBI or AZW3 format upon request) for £15, or obtain a physical copy – guaranteed to look awesome on your coffee table or your office reception desk, just saying – for £21 (which includes a £6 worldwide shipping fee). The prices do not include VAT.
What are you still waiting for? Oh right, the foreword. Here you go:
Watching the European technology startup ecosystem develop for the past decade-or-so that I’ve been blogging has been nothing short of fascinating.
From covering a handful of industry giants such as Nokia and SAP and a few outstanding startups here and there, we have come to a moment in time when it has become downright challenging to merely keep track of everything that’s happening across Europe even with a staff of experienced, full-time journalists.
Both anecdotally and factually, we are observing an ongoing maturation – and transformation – of the European technology industry that is bound to have a ripple effect on a global scale.
For some regions in Europe, this advancement isn’t measured in the number of tech ‘Eunicorns’ they produce every year, or in the number of euros raised (or returned to investors) by its homegrown startups, but in the gradual shift to a cultivation of entrepreneurship and the laying of the foundations needed to build healthy ecosystems on top of.
Simultaneously, certain European hubs have already birthed global category leaders (Skype and Spotify as the most commonly cited examples) and there’s a whole new generation of founders working hard at building lasting, impactful technology companies in a variety of fields. Certain European tech stars are able to do this even without trying to ‘make it’ in huge markets such as the US and China; cases in point include companies such as Rocket Internet, BlaBlaCar, Fon, Zalando, Truecaller and many more. More will also follow in their footsteps; some of them will undoubtedly fail, but others are bound to thrive.
Relevant statistics and research – even the conservative kind – show almost all numbers going up and to the right. In nearly all corners of Europe, we are witnessing a gradual, sometimes even linear increase in the number of first-time entrepreneurs, capital invested in startups across all stages, valuations, funds raised by venture capitalists and private equity firms investing in tech, exits, average ICT spending, involvement from large corporations and policymakers – the list goes on.
Europe is hardly the only region in the world where we can see that evolution, and to believe that the numbers are going to keep ballooning every year is to believe in a pipe dream. In fact, some observers argue that Europe is growing too slowly vis-à-vis other regions.
To wit, it cannot be denied that the largest, most talked about and arguably most innovative Internet companies in the world are not, in fact, European. From Google, Amazon, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba to the ‘new’ generation of mega-companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Dropbox, casual observers would conclude that Europe is incapable of producing such juggernauts. Sadly, this is not as far from the truth as some would like to believe.
The gap is real and demonstrable, and the challenges ahead are clear and undeniable. The devices we use to connect to the Internet – and the operating systems at the heart of them – are decidedly not designed or made in Europe, even if many of the innovations that made them possible were developed here. It is highly unlikely that European companies will be able to displace the Apples, Microsofts and Samsungs in this world – and I would argue that the sooner we come to grips with this reality, the better.
And yet, data shows that Silicon Valley or even the US is no longer the only place where the mammoths of the technology world are being created or grown. Tomorrow’s Internet giants may come from places like San Francisco or Boston, but there will be many more coming from places like China, India, Southeast Asia and, indeed, London and Berlin – just to name a few. While it may not yet be true that great companies can come from anywhere on the planet, we are definitely moving into that direction – and Europe will not be left behind.
It is often said that Europeans are bad at celebrating successes, and some even unwilling to. An oft-heard refrain tells us we need more role models in Europe to learn from and to light the path for upcoming entrepreneurs. The reality is that Europe is fragmented in more ways than one, making it difficult for successful entrepreneurs to break out of their home countries and gain status as role model on a European scale. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there – it just means they’re not as visible as they probably should be.
This is one of the reasons ‘The European Startup Revolution’ is more than just a good read, or a collection of stories worth reading.
As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I believe it is vital to periodically shine a light on Europe’s movers and shakers, the people from all corners of the region who are building, investing in or otherwise betting on the technology companies we will be writing about – and learning from – long after this book is published.
Ivo’s book offers a rare glimpse into some of the brightest minds in European tech, from successful entrepreneurs such as lkka Paananen (Supercell), Martin Varsavsky (FON) and Alexander Ljung (SoundCloud), as well as savvy financiers like Saul Klein (Index Ventures, Seedcamp and The Accelerator Group), Fred Destin (Atlas Venture, Accel Partners) and Dave McClure (500 Startups). And yes, we know the latter isn’t actually European.
It’s not a revolution unless it gets chronicled, and what better way to do that than to interview several captains of the European technology industry?
There are many exciting things being dreamed up and built around the world, and Ivo’s book offers a front row seat to the extraordinary women and men who are making an impact on business and society from all corners of Europe. Enjoy the read.