We should be proud to be Europeans and grab the opportunities that provides. Here’s how.
START WHERE YOU WANT TO LIVE
Do not move only for business reasons. Choose where you want to live based on your personal life before thinking about where you want to start your business.
Copying a foreign startup is often a good idea as a first experience, but do it the smart way. First, do your homework: don’t trust the press, do your own research, apply for a job, go to the interview and ask all your questions. Second, be careful to adapt to your local environment: the market, the legal constraints, the existing infrastructures… Finally, remember that copying is always temporary: if you win against your competitors, you will have to innovate and build your own path.
DO NOT GET CAUGHT BY BORDERS
Europe is much more united in terms of culture than the US. The language barrier is not a problem anymore: translation is cheap and multilingual employees are easier and easier to find, such as in customer support, which is always a touchy issue when you scale. Expand your horizon: travelling in Europe is easy, cheap and fast. You can build a pretty useful network in just a few years, which will be a true unfair advantage.
OUR SPECIFICITIES ARE OPPORTUNITIES
We are used to uncompetitive markets and monopolies. European customers are eager for disruption. Even pessimism is an opportunity: you will be the one bringing water in the desert. And what’s more, don’t underestimate our lifestyle: it is an argument that can attract talent, so don’t hesitate to use it and market it well.
TAKE THE BEST OF EVERY COUNTRY: DECENTRALIZE
Let’s face it: for the moment every European city sucks as a whole. But each of them has its own advantages and you should capitalize on them. Skype for instance has its engineers teams in Estonia, its social headquarters in Luxembourg, its corporate headquarters in London and its Accountancy Department in Switzerland.
THINK OF EUROPE AS A WHOLE: OPTIMIZE
Local operations should never be launched by local people. Uber has a launching team who launches every city around the world: they are specialized and have a strong know-how. As a first step, you can have specialized teams based in a particular country that operate for all of Europe in Sales, Customer Support or Engineering. Even on the longer term, your team does not need to be where your market is. It’s not easy, it’s not perfect, you may have to over-invest in your internal communications, but you have to adapt to your constraints.
STOP BEING OBSESSED BY THE AMERICAN MARKET
Launching in the US as the second move after launching in your mother country does not make any sense in 80% of the cases. On the contrary, becoming pan-European is an opportunity: take strong positions to fight against your US competitor when it does arrive.
LET DATA GUIDE YOU
Do not launch randomly – trust the data. Communicate in every language and see where it lands best, see where your early users are, and then launch.
MEET THE INTERNET NATION
A new country is born, a transversal one, with citizens who speak English and share a digital culture. It could be the first country to launch your product.
Being smaller means we need to be more ambitious than average, not less. Small things are not ok in Europe: think big.