Succeeding in getting a service or product to market can be a major challenge for startups. Olivier Lemaire, Partner at EY Luxembourg, discusses some of the issues as well as the resources available for entrepreneurs in the EYnovation program.
“Where startups most often encounter difficulty is at the market introduction of the services or products they have developed. Their concept is there, it works, it’s nice. Then comes the moment to monetize and create value with it,” commented Olivier Lemaire, Partner and Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT) Leader at EY Luxembourg. Earlier this year, the consulting firm introduced a new startup support program in Luxembourg. The new EYnovation program builds on the work of an earlier program developed by several partners over the last 4 years. With the new program, EY gives startups in the Grand Duchy access to its international network dedicated to entrepreneurs. The firm aims to assist ten startups at a time in Luxembourg with their development.
A favorable ecosystem
“Luxembourg offers an attractive environment for startups. Today, the ecosystem is able to meet most of their needs,” explained Lemaire. He spoke about how technological and innovative startups can rely on an efficient ICT infrastructure as well as on good international connections. He discussed the stable tax environment, as well as the fact that Luxembourg is renowned for being business friendly. In fact, this country meets the requirements of large companies and startups alike. There’s one more essential factor that makes Luxembourg ideal for startups: everyone knows everyone. “When one is confronted with a problem, he can quickly find the person who can help him deal with it and quickly build a quality network,” remarked Lemaire.
Are we willing to pay for your idea
All too often, startups focus on creating a product or service without regard to the market. They simply don’t check if there’s an actual interest in their product or service. “Very early in their development, startups must consider the marketing of their idea. They must quickly determine if people are willing to pay for their products or services, and evaluate how much people are willing to spend or invest in them,” explained Lemaire.
The sustainability of a startup depends on its ability to monetize its innovations. “The first thing a potential investor will consider is whether he, or one of his acquaintances, is ready to buy the product or service presented to him,” remarked Lemaire. He continued, “We tend to hear that there is a lack of venture capitalists in Luxembourg. But maybe the real issue is whether there are enough good projects for them to invest in.”
The network, a key resource
Through its EYnovation program, EY provides advanced skills to selected startups, helps them refine their ideas and assists with tax and accounting matters. Above all, the consulting firm aspires to use its integrated network to benefit the entrepreneurs. “This network is key, inasmuch as it allows exchanging ideas and expectations about market reality, the startups in our program can often get access to the market earlier than most. When we like an idea, and think it can be helpful to a client, we will certainly recommend the startup to our client. Sometimes we can use a startup’s product or service for our own needs. Luxembourg, with its multicultural environment and location in Europe, is an excellent market for testing an idea and convincing early customers and investors of the concept,” concluded Lemaire.