Entrepreneurship The Problem With European Entrepreneurship? Are European entrepreneurs not cruel enough? Established entrepreneur and strategist, Laurent Haug investigates the problems of European entrepreneurship. Published 4 years ago on May 22, 2014 By The Asian Entrepreneur Authors & Contributors Share Tweet I have been a long time advocate of European entrepreneurship. But spending twenty weeks in dynamic Asia in the past year taught me a few things, among them the fact that our market is probably counter productively soft… I was a mentor at SeedCamp two weeks ago. Contrary to what I thought SeedCamp is not a conference. It is an investment fund leveraging the wisdom of the (filtered) crowds, putting young entrepreneurs through an intense one week process that ends with the best ones receiving a seed investment. I sat down – alongside fellow mentors Brad Gillespie and Prashant Agarwal – with young entrepreneurs, discussing their project, advising them on how to make the best of their ideas and talent. The 25 teams that attended the event were selected from a pool of 250+ proposals, it was the cream of the crop. And of course there was the one team who had visibly no chance for success. A non-exiting product, barely a feature, no brand or potential. What do you do in that case? I discussed with Brad afterward and we agreed – a bit because we couldn’t find a better solution – that encouraging them was the best way to go. Entrepreneurs are precious people, their confidence is fragile, they need to be pushed and should be able to rebound from failure. But are we really helping an entrepreneur by encouraging him to pursue a project that has a big chance to fail? Probably not. Most of the web start ups that are launched these days have no chance to succeed. And not telling them is one of the problems we have here in the Europe. Our market is not cruel enough. I see several reasons for that. First, we are much softer and diplomatic in Europe. We are not used to have people telling us what they really think. The Americans are used to extreme freedom of expression. In Europe (and it might be an heritage of greater diversity) we put a lot of efforts into softening what we say. That might not be true in southern France or Italy, but in the east and north that’s very obvious. Another factor is the fact we don’t have enough projects in our ecosystem. It makes each of them extremely valuable. Bad projects are always better than no projects, at least in the eyes of all the governmental agencies promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Last but not least, a slower market means a slower feedback. If you can launch your product in three months you will quickly know if you have potential or not. With fragmented markets, multiple languages and heavier administrative burden, European start-ups need more time to reach their clients, and bad projects get the news later, after they have spent many resources. This has a number of consequences. The first is that good projects have less resources available. Less space at the incubator, less seed investment, less access to mentors. And less media attention. It’s easier to cover the latest non-innovative-but-web2.0-certified blog platform launched by a local company, less to talk about a more complicated but revolutionary project like Fairtilizer. Another factor is that failure is more painful. When you have invested three years of your life in a project and need to close it down, it is much more difficult than when you have been working for a couple of months. Failure has deeper consequences, on the ego, the finances, the network. It is less accepted because more visible and hurtful. Then there are consequences on the ecosystem itself, with bad projects giving a negative image of entrepreneurship, creating the perception that working in a small company is less safe than working in a big one (something that recent events have shown is probably not true. At this point, with our resources getting more rare, it might be important to reconsider our attitude on this, and become more courageous when assessing projects. _______________________________________________ About The Author: Laurent Haug is an entrepreneur, observer, investor, strategist, and creative matchmaker for industry leaders, start-ups, policy makers, designers, and developers; guiding them through the intricacies of emerging technologies and the larger social and economic changes that shape them.Laurent works with clients and projects in many different domains – entrepreneurship, finance, media, technology, retail – and facilitate the sharing of ideas, experience, and knowledge that lead to innovative action and new collaborative projects. He is the founder of Lift, Switzerland’s first ideas conference on the subject of innovation, technology, and society. He was twice honored as one of the most influential person in Switzerland (L’Hebdo in 2006, Bilan in 2011), won a Swiss ICT award, and was named one of the top 20 Swiss young entrepreneurs in 2011. You can contact Laurent by emailing [email protected] Related Topics:asiaasian entrepreneursasian entrepreneurshipbaddiversityEntrepreneurentrepreneursEntrepreneurshipeventfailfinanceinvestmentinvestorleaderslifemementornewsspendingsucceedsuccesstechnologywisdom Continue Reading You may like 10 Effective Funding Models for Non-Profit Startups Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs Renata Brkić William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market How We Can Innovate the Legal Industry like Elon Musk Callum Connects Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings Published 1 day ago on December 15, 2017 By Callum Laing Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched. What’s your story? I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects. What excites you most about your industry? It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift. What’s your connection to Asia? I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter. Favourite city in Asia for business and why? Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position. Who inspires you? Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years. If you had your time again, what would you do differently? Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start. How do you unwind? I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields. Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why? Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd. Everyone in business should read this book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki Shameless plug for your business: Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning. How can people connect with you? Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected] Twitter handle? @malcolmABM — This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’. Connect with Callum here: twitter.com/laingcallum linkedin.com/in/callumlaing Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com Continue Reading Entrepreneurship Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs Published 2 days ago on December 14, 2017 By Marion Neubronner (Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.) Pam Webber is Chief Marketing Officer at 99designs, where she heads up the global marketing team responsible for acquisition, through growth marketing and traditional marketing levers, and increasing lifetime value of customers. She is passionate about using data to derive customer insights and finding “aha moments” that impact strategic direction. Pam brings a host of first-hand startup marketing experiences as an e-commerce entrepreneur herself and as the first marketing leader for many fast-growing startups. Prior to joining 99designs, she founded weeDECOR, an e-commerce company selling custom wall decals for kids’ rooms. She also worked as an executive marketing consultant at notable startups including True&Co, an e-commerce startup specializing in women’s lingerie. Earlier in her career, Pam served in various business and marketing positions with eBay and its subsidiary, PayPal, Inc. A resident of San Francisco, Pam received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Harvard Business School. Pam is a notable guest speaker for Venture Beat, The Next Web, Lean Startup, and Growth Hacking Forum, as well as an industry expert regularly quoted in Inc., CIO, Business News Daily, CMSwire, Smart Hustle, DIY Marketer, and various podcast and radio shows. You can follow her on Twitter at @pamwebber_sf. What makes you do what you do? My dad always told me make sure you choose a job you like because you’ll be doing it for a long time. I took that advice to heart and as I explored various roles over my career, I always stopped to check whether I was happy going to work every day – or at least most days :). That has guided me to the career I have in marketing today. I’m genuinely excited to go to work every day. I get to create, to analyze, to see the impact of my work. It’s very fulfilling. How did you rise in the industry you are in? I had a penchant for numbers and it helped me stand out in my field. This penchant became even more powerful when the Internet and digital marketing started to explode. There was a great need for marketers whose skills could span both the creative and the analytic aspects of marketing. I capitalized on that growth by bringing unique insight to the companies I worked with, well-supported with thoughtful analysis. Why did you take on this role/start this startup? I’m not sure this is relevant to my situation as I had been a marketing leader in various start-ups and companies. I took on the role at 99designs because I was excited by the global reach of the brand and the opportunity the company had to own the online design space. I especially liked the team as I felt they were good at heart. The challenge I’ve faced in my time at 99designs is how do I evolve the team quickly and nimbly to address new challenges. The work we do now, is very different than the work we did a year ago and even the year before that. There is a fine line between staying focused on the goal ahead and being able to move quickly should that goal shift. Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industry or did you look for one or how did that work? There is no one I’ve sought out or worked with over my entire career as my “mentee” needs have changed so much over the years. There are many people who have helped me along the way. For example, one of my peers at eBay, who was quite experienced and skilled in marketing strategy and creative execution, taught me what was in a marketing plan and how to evaluate marketing assets. As I have risen to leadership positions over the years, I often reach out to similarly experienced colleagues for advice on how they handle situations. How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him? I learned early in my career that it rarely hurts to ask for advice. So that is what I have done. Additionally, there are people that are known to be quite helpful and build a reputation for giving back to others in advisory work. Michael Dearing, of Harrison Metal and ex-eBay, is one of those people. I, as well as countless others, have asked him for advice and guidance through the years and he does his best to oblige. Finding mentorship is about intuiting who in your universe might be willing and whether you are up for asking for help. That being said, generally, I have found, if you are eager to learn and be guided, people will respond to the outreach. Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent? I generally look for a good attitude and inherent “smarts”. A good attitude can encompass anything from being willing to take on many different types of challenges to working well amongst differing personalities and perspectives. Smarts can be seen through how well someone’s done in their “passion areas” (i.e. areas where they have a keen interest in pursuing). I try to hire those types of people because in smaller, fast-growing companies like many of the ones I’ve worked in, it’s more often than not about hiring flexible people as things move and change fast. Once those people are on my team, I try to keep them challenged and engaged by making sure they have varying responsibilities. If I can’t give them growth in their current job or in the current company, I encourage them to seek growth opportunities elsewhere. I’d rather have one of my stars leave for a better growth opportunity than keep them in a role where they might grow stale. Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? I consciously support diversity. When I am hiring, I am constantly thinking about how to balance the team with as broad a range as possible of skill sets, perspectives, etc. to ensure we can take on whatever is thrown at us, or whatever we want to go after. What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb? I’m going to assume a great leader in my industry to mean a marketing leader in a technology company. I think a great leader in this industry is not afraid to learn new tricks no matter their age – it’s the growth mindset you may have heard about. I have a friend who inspires me to do this – she purchased the Apple Watch as soon as it was available, and was one of the first people I knew to use the Nest heating/cooling system. She’s not an early adopter by most definitions, but she adopts the growth mindset. This is the mindset I, too, have sought to adopt. In my field of marketing, it most recently has meant learning about Growth Marketing and how to apply this methodology to enhance growth. Independent of your industry, I think a growth mindset serves you well. Advice for others? I have been at 99designs for 3.5 years. During that time we’ve invested in elevating the skills and quality of our designer community, we’ve rebranded to reflect this higher level of quality, and have improved the satisfaction of our customers. Our next phase of growth will come from better matching clients to the right designer and expanding the ability to work with a designer one-on-one. We have the best platform to find, collaborate, and pay professional designers who deliver high quality design at an affordable price, and it’s only going to get better. I’m excited to deliver on that vision. 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