This week marked the start of our ambitious journey across Europe, in the #EUCrowdShow.
We visited 5 countries in 5 days, in Prague at Lab64, in Budapest at Impact Hub, in Bucharest at TechHub, in Athens at Innovathens, and in Nicosia at IDEA. From Belgium to Czech Republic to Hungary to Romania to Greece to Cyprus, we covered more than 5,500 kilometers and this is only the first week!
Our fearless road warriors are the Chairman of MyMicroInvest, José Zurstrassen, and the co-founders of BAUNAT, an online diamond jewellery brand, Stefaan Mouradian and Steven Boelens.
We began this tour by asking ourselves some simple questions, Why aren’t there any European unicorns? How do you raise money to grow your business? What kind of businesses would you invest in?
With these questions in mind, we went to these countries to listen to entrepreneurs and investors, to discuss how to finance startups and scaleups.
Here are a few notes on our findings.
There are 10.5 Million Czech and 474 startups, which raised €68M in venture capital last year. Czech has a long history as a leader of technology and started a technical institute in 1707. Many Czech companies have been awarded grants from the EU’s research and development fund (totaling nearly €3.5B!).
Crowdfunding does exist in Czech, and it has grown to an annual market of approximately €1.7 Million. Although, local crowdfunding is mostly reward-based, not equity or lending. It’s still gaining momentum, and people are still becoming familiar with it as a financing concept. There are big opportunities for MyMicroInvest to grow!
We were pleased to discuss with people in the beautiful city of Budapest! With a total population of more than 9.8 Million, Hungary has more than 500,000 SMEs, and 340 startups. These businesses have a big impact, Hungary´s SMEs account for more than half of value added in the non-financial business economy and around 70 % of employment. We’re convinced by thinking more European with MyMicroInvest; we can help SMEs and startups to have a bigger impact.
Romania has more than 19 Million people but less than 500,000 active SMEs with 2.71 Million employees. There are approximately 326 startups in Bucharest.
A study we found from Ernst and Young showed that access to funding is difficult or very difficult for 82% of entrepreneurs, and half of entrepreneurs say that funding is the greatest obstacle to develop a new business. And, here is where we began to discuss the fear of failure, a barrier to entrepreneurship. 65% of entrepreneurs believe failure is shun by society, and can be a barrier for future business projects.
Universities, business incubators and accelerators are helping to turn this around, and the climate is ripe in Bucharest for a new business.
We’ve heard a lot about the Greek crisis from our HQ in Brussels, and we were interested to see how the people of Athens were fairing, if entrepreneurship was a ticket out. Unfortunately we had a travel mix-up (it’s an intense schedule) and we arrived too late! We were looking forward to discussing SMEs (there are more than 690,000 in Greece!) and the Athens ecosystem. We’re sorry if you missed us in Athens. Next time!
This small island was a big surprise and a great end to our week! We had more than 26 people signed up, a big surprise. The discussion was energetic, both online and offline, and we were thrilled to hear to role that SMEs play in Cyprus, adding 44% of value to the economy. A true opportunity for growth!
Next week we're off to Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania.