Thursday, August 26, 2010

A week in Provence

As most of you know by now, I am French and I have to admit, it feels good especially when I am coming back from a week of vacation in my beloved Provence having spent my time talking about what we are going to do for dinner, cooking dinner and then eating dinner with the extended Family. The great piece of news was my Dad with whom I was demonstrating Spoke’s new product decided to install it.

I have taken the liberty to attach a picture of my parent’s place and you could have seen me playing with my IPad in one of those armchairs close the swimming pool if I had not taken the picture.

During this vacation, I got visited by a friend who asked me a very peculiar but also very French question: what do you think the American Entrepreneurs could learn from us European Entrepreneurs? I was a bit taken aback as I spent my time over the years explaining to European Entrepreneurs the best practices we had in the Silicon Valley and was tempted to say that we know it all having witnessed during my tenure in Silicon Valley the emergence of Google, EBay, Facebook and Yahoo… but I also felt it was a very fair question that needed some thinking before moving to something else.

One first thought is that Entrepreneurs in Europe are winning against all odds. The regulatory environment is not conducive and companies have little access to funds at each step of the way from early investment such as Angel Investing and Venture Capital to strong and healthy Financial Markets for technology companies.

A second thought is that for a technology company to be successful in Europe, it has to think international right from the beginning. Companies like Talend, MySQL, TrollTech have been successful because they were international at heart and Entrepreneurs such as Bertrand Diard or Bernard Liautaud were not worried to travel extensively and then even made the decision to move to the US.

One last thought is that Entrepreneurs in Europe recognize how important government and local authorities are for the initial success of their companies and have learned how to leverage them successfully. The initial strategic choice of Clean Technology by Germany and Denmark created innovation and successful ventures in the Wind and Solar Industry. Government, local authorities encourage innovation and enable job creation by providing funding to companies. From Grants and loans to equity investment, Local governments use the entire palette of funding possibilities, an example being OpenBravo, a leader in the Open Source ERP space, which was originally seeded by the Government of Navarre in Spain with significant amount of funding before getting funded by more traditional Venture Capitalists.

Random Spoke profile: Dana TraBue

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