European Entrepreneurs are similar to perhaps any type of entrepreneur: they are looking for the gaps, the opportunities, and the right regulatory climate to create new innovative businesses. So how do they do it in Europe and how successful are they? This EIF Special Reception gave the audience a ‘yes we can’ perspective on the European outlook.
As said, entrepreneurs relish contradiction. It is in the chaos that they try and identify the opportunities. A fascinating example can be found in the world of recruitment. This specialized area of business life has been changed radically by the advent of social media. In the not too distant past, a recruitment consultant would have a database with CVs; but today, LinkedIn has made this information-monopoly approach old school, not to say redundant.
One of the companies that gave their vision on this theme is Zartis, a web based business focussed on social recruitment. As 27 billion Euro is spent every year on recruitment solutions, the company saw an opportunity in this market as it was looking to find their niche. With 300.000 new Android smart phones and tablets being activated every day worldwide, Zartis is a solution aimed at the Global Mobile Social Cloud (a term coined by the company). Zartis facilitates the recruitment process. As companies post jobs onto their website, the algorithm built into the software then strategically posts these jobs on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Overall, Europe has a historical opportunity with Cloud technology. This technology is a life changing way to use computing. We only have to look at how companies like Skype have brought cheaper calls to the market without owning any infrastructure. We see that the Cloud creates new market leaders that are based on new business models. The differences for the new entrepreneurial environment are huge. Whereas in the old economy one had to always start locally, the cloud allows one to start globally, making it easy to start a global business within a fraction of the time needed in the past. Delivery of service has been reduced to almost zero cost and the cloud has cut the time for getting to market dramatically. Of course we cannot expect everyone to create the next Google, YouTube, Facebook or Skype, but people will be more likely to try to start something because of the Cloud.
The question that remains is: what can ‘Brussels’ do to facilitate European entrepreneurship? One major aspect where Brussels can help, is by assisting European companies to internationalize faster, so they can actually compete against US companies (which are often better funded). Also, the European Union should encourage state and semi state companies to engage with smaller IT companies. As one of the speakers put it, he had made more revenue in China with state companies that he has in the EU. If small companies want to have a chance to compete, the rules of engagement in this area may have to be renewed.
Politicians may not be able to create jobs, but they can help create the right atmosphere that creates those jobs. As 99% of all European businesses are SMEs and employ 90 million people we can only imagine what would happen if all SMEs could hire one person more! With the right number of SMEs we will have quite a sufficient talent pool to allow the next Facebook to come from Europe.