D64 Discusses the Future of European Startups

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Last night politicians, founders, investors and others interested in this field met at the Berlin City Hall to discuss how to improve startup conditions in Europe. Besides basic bureaucratic conditions and complicated tax regulations, a different mindset from founders and investors were named as key factors.

The panel was hosted by Nico Lumma, Chairman of D64 – Center for Digital Progress, who invited Béa Beste (CEO of Playducato GmbH and Toolabox), Nora-Vanessa Wohlert (Co-Founder of EDITION F), Dr. Carsten Brosda (commissioner for media) and Brigitte Zypries (Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, also responsible for IT and startups).

The debate mostly covered European and American startups, VCs investments as well as entrepreneurial mindsets. One of the main issues discussed was that international investors do not see a return on investment soon enough, because often German startups focus on the German market (including Austria and Switzerland). They do not think big enough. This is different in the United States, because the language barrier does not exist, the people are more tech-oriented and their mindset is simply more entrepreneurial.

Another key issue was that European startups often value the idea of building a company and keeping it rather than seeing fast growth and and an early exit. That is also where investors differ. While German investors are often very skeptical, UK investors were excited about their idea right away, Nora-Vanessa Wohlert explained.

Talking about the startup spirit, Brigitte Zypries brought it down to: 

In Germany, you don’t live your dream – you do your job

and that probably became the most important quote of the event.

Concrete ways to change the spirit were discussed including the idea of school classes to extra courses and more support from the government.

Discussing that all big IT companies are from the U.S. (naming Twitter, Facebook,…), the question arose on how basic conditions in Germany can be improved to support great ideas. Answers differed from “be brave and don’t be afraid to fail” and “believe in your idea” to a need for a European standard of startup legal forms. Not surprisingly, the request for an easier tax system came up as well as the need for less bureaucracy.

Events like these are useful and needed for all parties to understand the issues startups face.

“It is important for politicians to talk to young startups and learn where we can help and what we can do to get more entrepreneurs on their way,” says Brigitte Zypries.

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