I was in Kiev last week, representing Seedcamp at the Investor Day Central and Eastern Europe. Besides seeing this beautiful city for the first time (autumn colours, wide roads, and impressive Soviet-era buildings), the trip was well worth it.
I was to give a keynote at IDCEE about the emerging models of early stage financing (think super angels, micro seed, etc.), and I had prepared an elaborate affair of why and how to work with the individual actors. While enjoying the reception the night before, i quickly realised I needed to work on the slides again – there is no such thing as an active angel community or even seed funds in the Ukraine. That’s why I focused on a more general introduction to the topic, less on specific items such as strengths and weaknesses.
The grass is always greener on the other side
It is interesting to see with which kind of enthusiasm new models of funding (or rather, fair and entrepreneur-focused models of funding) are greeted in less active markets. I saw the same in South Africa, Singapore, and other places I’ve been to over the last few months. Entrepreneurs are really hungry to prove themselves and go international with outside investors, no matter where they are. Of course, that’s also the attitude we see in teams who come to our events in London from further away. Likewise, all the European teams who are blessed with an at least somewhat working funding market are more than eager to head westwards to New York and the Valley. Over the last years I saw Austrians pitching in Germany, Germans go to London, and Londonites engaging in an endless debate on why the US is a better place to start their business.
My take away from Kiev especially (as the situation is really underdeveloped and dire) was that it’s really important to build the local markets and help kickstart your own community. Sitting on a panel on “how to go to the Silicon Valley”, we agreed that the best result of all these moves across the pond would be knowledge, networks, and money coming back home to support the next generation of companies. The worst would be a brain drain that leaves Europe in the dust. To prevent this, it’s really important to network across borders to be less isolated from what is going on in Europe and build an ecosystem that works together. I could go on about all this for a while, but I think the most important point is this: it’s too easy to complain about the risk-averse investors (or the unimaginative founders) – if you don’t help changing the status quo, you shouldn’t be whining about it.
Stuff from Kiev
So, here are the slides I promised to put on my blog:
…And a little bit of my German accent mixed with too much coffee for your entertainment:
I hung out in Kiev with Mike Butcher from TC Europe, who had some thoughts on the current situation – mirroring IDCEE and the excellent f.ounders event in Dublin, and Martin from The Next Web – his thoughts about IDCEE are here.