Startup Fest Europe is a one-of-a-kind nation wide festival of more than 25 independently organized events in the Netherlands that helps startups grow faster by bringing together founders, investors, business leaders and developers around specific themes (or verticals).
The purpose of Startup Fest is for entrepreneurs to make deals with investors, establish partnerships with corporates and attract the right talent.
We were privileged to participate with Croqqer in the opening event of the StartUp Fest Europe in Amsterdam which was themed Build, Disrupt and Connect:
- Building products, new businesses and a competitive entrepreneurial environment in Europe;
- Disrupting outdated systems and businesses for future growth, resource efficiency, and competitiveness;
- Connecting entrepreneurs, corporates, venture capitalist, experts, thought leaders throughout the startup ecosystem.
And what an amazing line-up: besides the CEO’s Tim Cook (Apple), Eric Schmidt (Alphabet), Travis Kalanick (Uber), Nathan Blecharczyk (Airbnb) the Dutch Neelie Kroes (former EC Commissioner), Andrus Ansip (EC Commissioner Single Digital Market) and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and current EC President Mark Rutte.
Tim Cook (Apple) praised the entrepreneurial culture in Europe. On the question how will Apple help start-ups he said witty: “With iOS and the Appstore Apple created a great distribution platform for all entrepreneurs”. For the future he sees the Apple Watch evolve as one’s medical dashboard with alarms (like you have in your car when somethings is broke) as the holy (Apple) grail.
And strongly advices “to teach our children to learn to code likewise as your learn a second language and start this at the age of 8 years old”.
Eric Schmidt (Alphabet) stated that in Europe (technical) universities lack funding and (student) entrepreneurs lack easy access to start-up money after graduation compared to the situation in the US. Another barrier is the tendency of (over)regulation by government: “Governments listen politely, however nothing happens”.
He sees Google’s future in applying increasingly AI, augmented reality mixed with real life expression and voice recognition.
Travis Kalanick (Uber) surprised me with an in-depth view on how to build a start-up. Focusing on pain points and waiting lines is a good indicator for a potential start-up niche. And there should be ‘magic’ in your solution with respect in one, more or all of these dimensions: save time, make calm, have joy and/or make money.
Uberpool (ridesharing with an additional passenger in an Uber car) is picking up in some of the larger cities and encompasses now 20% of the transactions.
An Uber scoop is the introduction of Uberpitch in 36 cities (yes, it wasn’t April 1st…) : with a push on the button of the Uber app a Uber car with a VC will come to you!
Nathan Blecharczyk (Airbnb) speech was merely a marketing speech stating the well known growth numbers and defending politely and very diplomatic the more intrusive questions on various Airbnb controversies.
Allowing Americans to benefit from 4.000 Cuban ‘locals renting their homes out as a local’ was great to hear: “the Americans asked for 50 years of questions in a 3 day stay…”.
Andrus Ansip (European Commissioner for a digital single market) mentioned that today only 36 % of the European citizens successfully can buy cross-border in Europe. E.g. because of not accepting credit cards from abroad (geo blocking) – whilst SEPA is already available. He is focussing on creating a connected digital single market and making Europe a world leader in information and communication technology. He announced a EC package of four measures to simplify consumer rules for online shopping, a.o. a European ‘roaming’ approach for parcel delivery to harmonize prices.
Many pitches and interviews with a.o. the CEO’s of three Dutch unicorns: Pim van der Does (Adyen), Steven Schuurman (Elastic) and Gillian Tans (Booking.com, now part of Priceline) on international roll-out: “start simple and validate the need” and how-to maintain the start-up culture : “board members talk to each new hire” to help prevent a Unicorn to grow into a ‘Unicorp‘.
The royal Prince of the Netherlands Constantijn succeeds Neelie Kroes as promotor of Startupdelta. With the humor of his dad “alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei” he concluded a very well organized event.
For more information on the StartUp Fest program for this week : click here.
Info on Startup Boost Zwolle (this Thursday starting at 17:00).
Rob van de Star
Amsterdam, May 24th 2016