Why more funds should consider launching scout programs in Europe

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing interest in angel or scout programmes on behalf of European funds. Atomico, Backed VC, Blossom Capital and Ada Ventures have been among the first Europe-based funds to venture into this territory. While there are additional funds that are rumoured to be toying with the idea, I find it odd that the concept has seen only limited development in Europe. After all, such programmes could prove to be truly game changing for local investment — and the European ecosystem as a whole.

How is it possible that the first VC angel or scout programmes weren’t launched in Europe until 2018 — a full nine years after similar programmes had made their debut in the US? And why primarily with only a handful of London-based firms? 

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Now is the best time to launch a tech startup

Fiascos always present new opportunities for entrepreneurs. The dotcom bubble — which happened exactly 20 years ago — killed off companies like Pets.com but strengthened the likes of Amazon and eBay. Airbnb, Spotify, Uber, Dropbox, Adyen, Evernote and more all grew out of the economic downturn of 2008 (as many a venture capitalist likes to mention). 

Even smaller-scale crises have been catalysts for startups. In France, the Icelandic volcano eruption of 2010 and the more recent metro strikes fuelled the rise of alternate means of transportation, like carpooling platform BlaBlaCar and electric scooters. 

This is an opportunity — it’s time for the tech sector to seize it. 

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Are European Startups Avoiding the Topic of Downsizing?

We’ve already read about tons of startup layoffs. 1000 people at Yelp and another 1000 at Magic Leap, almost 1000 at Lyft, 45% of the workforce at Eventbrite, 30% at Bird. Layoffs Tracker has over 300 companies listed – including the likes of Houzz, Lending Club, MindBody, The Wing and more. Yet a majority of the companies mentioned are in the US, which is perhaps not surprising given that government support for furlough is not what it is in Europe.

In Europe, the perhaps most prominent startups to announce layoffs have been UK-based so far: Deliveroo, who cut staff by 15% this morning, or Monzo, who announced the closing of it’s 165-person office in Las Vegas, etc. That said, there are prominent startups in France (I’ll avoid mentioning names) that have had to downsize and yet there is absolutely no mention of it in the press. A few people mentioned a similar situation in other European countries (Germany and the Nordics, for example). So my question is: why?

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Opportunity in a Time of Crisis

This is a topic that has been on my mind since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. In the first week or so, everyone moves into crisis-control in order to handle the immediate issues – which is a normal response. But I just can’t help wondering what new opportunities and business ideas this crisis will generate once things start to settle.

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Iranian Startups: Looks a lot like France to me

Disclaimer: since about 2012 I’ve been following Iran’s rising startup scene. It first started with a few Startup Weekend events here and there. But I’ve seen the ecosystem really take off – and to an incredible degree and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. So – even though I usually cover France and Europe on this blog – I thought I would share a big of Iran’s rising ecosystem with you.

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The Evolution of the French Investment Landscape

France is not usually the first European country that comes to mind when it comes to investing in startups, especially since the arrival of socialist President Francois Hollande in 2012 and the ensuing Pigeon movement; France’s entrepreneurs revolted against government plans to double the capital gains tax to 60%. And of course, stories like the DailyMotion saga do not help. Still, France’s tech startups are not void of funding. In 2014, the top 10 investment deals amount to over €220 million. Furthermore, several French tech startups including Deezer, Blablacar andSigfox have announced $100 million rounds of funding in the last few years. So, if it’s such a bad place to invest, what exactly is going on?

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No France, the problem is not Newsweek

By now, just about everyone has heard of that Newsweek article that all the French are allegedly going nuts about. You know, the one that states that all the entrepreneurs are leaving France since Hollande took over as President because of the whopping 75% tax rate. You know, it’s that article that plays on that over-played joke that the French don’t have a word for “entrepreneur” and struggles to find a French equivalent for Bill Gates or Richard Branson. Yawn.

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Afterthoughts on Lunch with the French President

As many of you know, I had the incredible honor of being invited to a lunch with the French President earlier this week alongside some of France’s biggest names in tech. That’s right, little American me was invited to discuss the state of the French ecosystem. If you’re thinking “huh?”, don’t worry, I was too 🙂 I was sat around the table with the likes of Jacques-Antoine Granjon (Vente-privée), Marc Simoncini (Meetic), Marie Ekeland (Elaia Partners), Fleur Pellerin (Minister of Digital Economy) and other people I beyond admire. Oh, right, and then there was the French President himself.

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