In this insightful TNW2015 interview series Marvin Liao, partner at 500 startups talks about the European startup ecosystem and why founders should be in for the startup ride with their hearts and minds. Liao is in the unique position to have a keen insight on the global startup ecosystem and the differences between the local startup regions. Besides running the 500 Startups San Francisco accelerator program he is a mentor at many European and Asian accelerators. Liao says that both he as well as 500 Startups are very interested in and bullish about Europe. “In a lot of parts of Europe there is a lot of great tech and design talent. Look at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Scandinavia, France and Germany,” he says. The transfer of the mobile development team of Uber to Amsterdam last December is a case in point.
Sales and marketing talent, an essential part of the startup hacker, hipster and hustler trifecta, is however not in place or not on par with Silicon Valley based entrepreneurs Liao argues, stating that the Americans are ‘really good’ at sales and marketing and telling their story. For startups in Europe and his home country Canada there is a lot of room for improvement. Other things equal the lack of world-class sales and marketing talent might just be one of the more important reasons why at least the Netherlands hasn’t been able to produce a Google or Facebook yet.
Doing startups for the sake of doing startups
Liao also delves in the issue of founder/market fit and authenticity. Liao: “Just because you can do it on the internet, doesn’t mean you should do it on the internet.” Founders should instead ask themselves if they would be building that product or service anyway. Because they are fascinated by it or it’s their hobby, regardless of whether they will raise money or not. “I think sometimes the best businesses start that way.”
Brian Wong, Samir Patel, Marc van Dorth
The last few weeks we have published a number of interesting interviews. If you have missed them just click on the links below.
Marc van Dorth – Co-founder of Uscout – a sports startup that democratizes sports scouting
Samir Patel, president and CEO of Growth Machines and mentor at 500 Startups talking about the Five P’s for Growth.
Brian Wong – founder of Kipp, a mobile advertising company Kiip that was listed in 2013 one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world by Fast Company.
Startup Juncture partnered with Hit & Run Media Productions for this interview and WeWork Amsterdam. Hit & Run Media Productions and WeWork are our production partners in the many more interesting (and fun) video interviews that will follow.