During April, May and June the SBC teams have travelled throughout Europe and beyond with our Pitch events to meet startups and community hubs in their local environment. The Mobility team also hit the the road, everywhere we went we were met with open arms by the local startup communities. Great events were secured when mixed panels of our “own” SBC mentors and other local mentors met with the local startups for pitching and feedback. Now, just returning from Moscow after another 10 days on the road my thoughts go back to all the cool people and great teams we have met the last couple of months.…see below for a short synopsis of each sity. What to remember and what to take away…
“New technology from the old world” was an event theme picked up in Russia but also fit the startup scene in the capital of Ukraine. A strong university tradition of mathematics and a rapidly growing startup scene (700 startups participating to the iForum conference) is a powerful combination. Although there is a lot of clone projects taking proven models to the local home-market we also experienced really interesting new solutions and a couple of super teams with their own algorithm development.
Easy going lifestyle and amazing hospitality like nowhere else we’ve been. Little to no tech startups existed here three years back and Startupweekend is (still) the main source of newly formed teams and projects here. There were a lot clone projecs, but we did meet impressive teams in E-Commerce and with a growing number of university- and private incubator initiatives Athens will be interesting to follow the next couple of years. One recent and radical step from the Greek government is to establish at least 3 new VC funds to boost the local growth, unfortunately for us this also means that the best of the local teams have stopped looking outside of Greece for support and are now landing seed capital locally. My favorite quote from the visit: “We do have a heavy crisis here but we still have the sunshine and the water……if we had your (Scandinavian) weather, probably a third of the nation would kill themselves” 🙂
With Engineer/developer salaries below €800 per month and youth un-employment peaking, Portugal is breeding a generation of highly skilled and very motivated entrepreneurs. Less laid back than Greece, less stressed than all other cities. Powered to a large extent by a few dedicated individuals and Startup Lisboa a surprisingly big number of the local startups have strong and diverse teams and great solutions on the way. With a “domestic market” including Brazil, the “local solutions” become very interesting as a launch platform. We met with a couple of teams from abroad who moved temporarily to Lisbon, hiring local hands for their Alpha-development, living at Startup Lisboa for close to nothing and bootstrapped all the way to A-series level at a very low burn rate. Favorite quote: “NO NO, no such thing as drugs exist in Lisboa” from a young startup guy… After I personally took a 5km evening walk and was offered dope a minimum of 10 times?!
I visited “my 2nd home” more than 200 times over the past 13 years with Nokia but its been more than a year now and the startup scene is vibrant like never before! It seems that an organically growing web/mobile crowd together with a heavy focus on entrepreneurship from the universities and the injection of more than 200 new “Nokia startups” have had an explosive positive impact. Add to that the Finnish government’s aggressive push with Tekes funding, basically throwing big piles of money after every single project with a minimum chance of survival, and you have a vibrant and rapidly growing startup scene. The heavy focus on technical solutions (and less on sales) and the massive Tekes funding, will eventually lead to a lot of (first-time) startups hitting the ceiling when they run out of seed money or need to raise A-level funding which makes the Finnish community interesting for us at Startupbootcamp because the program fill exactly that gap.
Where Finland was vibrant, Stockholm is on fire!! There is a startup networking event pretty much every night, most nights there’s two. You’ve got heroes like Spotify and Wrapp who are easy to access, Creandum is showing off with their “very own” successful startup city (of course in their normal humble way). All in all VERY hard to beat! Except of course if you are NOT from Stockholm. It feels a bit like the community is slightly imploding in the celebration of own successes and for the few foreign teams moving in its almost impossible to get local people onboard. An interesting detail when coming from Kiev, Lisbon and Athens where everybody we talked to asked “how can I improve my chances to be accepted into the accelerator program?” – In Stockholm the question repeated 20 times over two days was: “When is Startupbootcamp coming to Stockholm so we can apply HERE?” The answer was, and still is – ”It’s extremely powerful to leave your normal environment (girlfriends and parties) for 3 to 6 months and really consolidate the team and the solution and launch with a bang. So please join us in Copenhagen”
20m people, give or take, less than 3 hours flight from home. First time that I stayed at a hotel where the bed was actually moving to the rhythm from the base beat pumping in the nightclub downstairs.
Everybody I met talked about “All of us in Europe…” I wonder if the rest of Europe share that mindset and adapt the fact that Russia is in fact a part of Europe.
Their is a very interesting category of startups that look like advanced university spin offs but actually are bootstrapped private enterprises by clever young entrepreneurs (within eg. voice recognition, 3D scanning, advanced search algorithms etc).
Now lets not forget our own hometown and the HQ of Mobility, (which tends to happen when you travel a lot). Actually quite a mature startup scene with a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and everything you need to grow from idea to scaling the business close at hand. Plenty of governmental funded incubators, private co-working spaces and two big private accelerators give local teams the possibility to move through a well functioning ecosystem.
But what do we bring back to Cph from each of the cities we visited to improve further?
Kiev: “Work hard – Play hard” – You are an entrepreneur 24/7 and its super tough but FUN. (every startup should have a regular bar)
Athens: “Beginners Mind” – When you don’t know what you can’t do you just take action…. Less thinking, just DO IT. (& more meetings outside when weather allows)
Helsinki: “Media power” – Incredible what it does for the community to have Arcticstartup actively reporting big as well as small news. Greg and Dmitri are running one of the few startups in Finland without government support – Respect!
Stockholm: “Community” – Wow this startup scene is consolidating, throwing cool events and celebrating where possible. We can all learn from that.
Lissabon: “Hunger” – Crisis in Southern Europe is painful but its so inspiring to meet young people taking charge of their own faith.(and of course…even more meetings outside when weather allows! 🙂
Moscow: “ONE EUROPE” – EU is consolidating and so are entrepreneurs, we all need to be more open, to welcome the right minds from anywhere in the world, to move out of our comfort zone and take advantage of the possibilities there are just a few hours away in a plane.
At Startupbootcamp Mobility we have two weeks left of this years application period and we can’t wait to welcome 10 mobile startup teams in a couple of months – “ Get out of the building” join the family and apply now!