“Tell me what I need to do to help startups scale up in Europe, and together we will do it,” Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, told an audience of top entrepreneurs and startup association leaders at CeBIT in March 2016. The result – six months later – is a hard-hitting ScaleUp Manifesto received from the European community of startups and scaleups at the Digital Assembly in Bratislava, the event that puts the Digital Single Market at the heart of Europe.
(Image Credit: Lee Key)
Together everyone achieves more
‘A Manifesto for Change and Empowerment in the Digital Age’ is the first of its kind in Europe. It is intended to serve as a comprehensive roadmap for making Europe not just the best place in the world to start a business, but also the best place to grow and to scale up.
It has 49 recommendations divided into six thematic chapters and includes a comprehensive to-do list, all to create a better, more fertile business environment for entrepreneurs across Europe.
The manifesto is the work of an entire community. It united leading startup associations and startup experts all across Europe, such as the European Startup Network, Open Evidence (a Barcelona-based research institute), 1000startupsEU, Startup Cyprus, the Scale Up Institute (United Kingdom) and many more.
ScaleUp Europe ambassadors
Karen Boers, board member & CEO of European Startup Network, and one of the founding signatories of the manifesto, knows how important the initiative is. As above all, she is an entrepreneur herself and realizes all the pitfalls entrepreneurs face on their way.
“It took me two years to understand that I was in fact becoming an entrepreneur… First, I wanted to help people in the startup scene get better connected, as I saw so much talent out there as well as potential programs, instruments and great mentors ready to help. At a certain point, I realized I was bringing a solution to the market – rather than being a facilitator in a societal project. Looking for a business model and ‘selling’ the social message was the hardest thing I had to learn so far.”
Karen Boers believes that most entrepreneurs face similar obstacles: long and underestimated business acquisition cycles leading to cash flow problems; access to funding; finding talent; blind spots in new markets – not knowing the local regulation, taxation, informal business rules & habits, etc. On the other hand, she ensures us that things are changing.
“Nowadays, there is a lot more attention being paid to startups in general, and lots more support to help create and launch businesses all over Europe. Incubation, acceleration and (pre)seed funding are now mainstream and available anywhere. Policy frameworks are adapting at local levels too. The ScaleUp Manifesto is an important step in consolidating these efforts at the pan-European level and creating a better level playing field for startups ready to scale across the continent – rather than flee to another continent for fast-scaling.”
This article was first published in SILICON