The EU’s StartupEurope initiative aims to help European innovators start in Europe, flourish in Europe, and stay in Europe. It’s clear that one of the obstacles they face is that people don’t recognise the nature (and value) of entrepreneurial careers - whether it’s teachers, friends and family, or the politicians responsible for providing the right policy environment. Boosting that recognition is one of the goals of our Tech AllStars initiative - and today’s guest blog is from Pat Phelan, deserved winner of the 2013 award.
“When I first heard about Tech AllStars I knew straight away that we wanted to be involved. Since our launch in January, Trustev had visited the UK and the USA extensively but apart from the odd customer and partner trip to mainland Europe, we hadn’t had much contact between and other startups on the continent and this felt like a great opportunity to catch up on what was happening. We sat down as a team and spend some time putting together our application, we knew there would be very stiff competition and when we eventually heard that we were selected as one of the twelve finalists, we were over the moon.
The Tech AllStars involved presenting and pitching our startup at three separate technology events across Europe; in Berlin, London and Dublin. The first great thing about Tech AllStars is that moment of realisation when you meet startup founders from other countries and you realise that, while separated by distance, we all face pretty much the same challenges in growing our businesses. There’s something very reassuring about that, knowing that your challenges are the same challenges facing European startups as a whole. You’re also especially conscious that even though it’s a competition, it’s a friendly, good natured one between the finalists; we had enough to worry about in terms of being grilled by the experts and judges so the positivity between the finalists kept everyone at the top of their game.
The competition itself was an amazing experience; the opportunity to visit Berlin and see first hand the incredible activity taking place there was a particular highlight. The chance to visit great companies like Wooga and Twago, hear first hand their experiences and get real practical advice from them was invaluable. Being lucky enough to qualify as one of the three grand final positions was a huge deal for us in itself, the opportunity to go to London and present to a room filled with people of the calibre of Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and Strive Masiyiwa was an incredible opportunity for our startup.
I have never been a fan of the continuing trend of naming every second place “the next Silicon Valley”. As someone who’s spent most of the last five years travelling back and forth from the Valley, I can say with certainty that in Europe, we don’t need to be the next Silicon Valley; we can be something else. We can learn from their experiences, build relationships with the Valley and break down the borders. The internet is global, as are the businesses that operate on it - trying to pretend that it can be divided by geography just makes no sense.
Since receiving the award, it’s opened doors and conversations that we though were months and years away. It brought us to the attention of partners and investors, not just in Europe but from all corners of the globe. We’re looking forward to the future and hope that we and all the finalists from this years Tech AllStars can bring the experiences of the next twelve months to next year’s finalists.”