Although for most of the world Silicon Valley remains number one priority as an enterprise placement, European entrepreneurship ecosystem has dramatically evolved in the last few years and now also demonstrates impressive results. Elizabeth Clarkson works as a managing director of Sapphire Ventures, a huge investment company headquartered in the US, cooperating with international entrepreneurs and leading venture funds across the states, Europe, and Israel. According to Elizabeth, many people underestimate the current state of European investment environment, while the region gains power with its growing number of unicorns, notable sums’ exits, and numerous early stage venture funds.
In comparison with the mature startup ecosystem in America, Europe is a young business environment, yet with a high outcome potential. The things started to get off the ground in 2000, and already in 2008 European business community was happy to welcome Rocket Internet Company from Germany, a local pioneer promoting Internet business. After that, numerous sizable incubators and accelerators appeared where some outstanding startup projects were born. The whole startup ecosystem started to grow and advance, such careers as entrepreneurs, investors and engineers became mainstream. You might be surprised to learn that 40 unicorn projects have their European origin while the total sum of major startup exits for 5 years equals 42 billion dollars. Meanwhile, a lot of leading US venture funds like Sequoia, Union Square invest in European projects chasing highly promising returns.
There are already three well-marked innovation centers in Europe: Berlin, London, and Stockholm, where most of the prominent exits and leading companies’ formation cases are noticed. Sapphire Ventures also direct their investment activity in these spots. According to 2014 statistics, there were 225 venture capital deals in the UK, 154 in Germany and 113 in the Nordic region, which accounts for almost a half of all European deals.
As long as European venture funds are concerned, there are not so may of them with 10 years of experience, most of them are relatively young but very fast developing. Needless to say, there is no that strong competition among investment funds opposite to their American colleagues. However, European venture companies gradually acquire the best practices of US funds and become more founder-friendly.
Today we can see a lot of European companies moving to the US while some outstanding American tech companies move to Europe in search of new customers. In both cases, we observe globalization of entrepreneurship ecosystem. Those who stay in Europe will inevitably benefit from the local talents and lower cost of living. We are also proud to notice that European entrepreneurs are widely considered to be more open-minded and ambitious, always looking for new global partners and having a valuable experience in attracting foreign capital.
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