In reply to a post that someone replied to on Robert Scobles blog, saying that there was no issue with VC tech funding in Europe and that there was plenty money for startups and suggesting that it was just as easy to fund a company to build a multi-billion dollar business in Europe as the U.S. (the persons comments in italics), I recently wrote this response…
“There’s really no shortage of venture capital in Europe.”
Not true. There is no shortage of growth capital. There is no shortage of seed capital. There is a major shortage of Venture Capital for Series A with early stage companies. I dont know if you have raised capital for an early stage company in Europe, but if you have tried you’ll know there are literally only a handful of VCs who understand the tech ecosystem fully AND are prepared to invest early stage.
“If you want to build a billion dollar software tech company in Europe by using European VC money, it’s perfectly possible to do it”
I’d challenge you to give me 5 companies in this category who have grown to a billion dollar company, purely on European VC money (let alone UK), other than rolling out the usual suspects such as Skype et al. In contrast, I can probably name you 20 U.S. in the consumer internet sector, without breaking a sweat.
There is problem in Europe – its the equity gap. And its big. There are of course always exceptions to the rule, but in general U.S. seed investment is larger, and VC investment is earlier. In contrast, seed investment in the UK/Europe is smaller and VCs invest much later. That leaves a gaping hole between around £250,000 and £2m ($500k and $4m U.S.)
Everyone knows this, everyone will discuss it private, but nobody wants to spoil the party at European conferences by saying it. Which is a pity, as it needs to be said; because there is so much good stuff going on in Europe in the startup scene, thats its a disgrace that more support and more risk capital is not made available early enough.
Europeans (of which I am one) sometimes ask why there is no Yahoo, Google, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace etc etc of Europe; I believe the reason is what I have just described. Sadly, the same fate awaits us again in 4 years time when the consumer mobile internet services mature, and the same conversation will be had again.
The U.S. is now heavily investing in mobile startups and I believe has every chance to over take Europe in mobile services and take up, within 18 to 24 months. You read it here first.
The European tech sector needs to wake up to this reality and do something about it; until it does the U.S. will continue to dominate North American and European markets with web and mobile consumer brands, because they invest earlier and more aggressively, in more companies.
That was the gospel according to St. Andrew.