A huge week for Copenhagen, Denmark and the Nordics with both TechCrunch Nordic and Mini Seedcamp coming to town.
Startupbootcamp was well represented at both events and I brought back a couple of observations.
The first observation is that there’s a wealth of talented people in this region.
As is often the case, the pitches were of uneven quality (if someone can figure out how to get paid to help entrepreneurs make great pitches there’s a lot of business out there) but there are some brilliant entrepreneurs in the making; I enjoyed Uninel‘s pitch at TechCrunch Nordic, and Mihai Gheza of Nugames gave by far the most animated and entertaining pitch of the day at Mini Seedcamp Copenhagen. Other interesting startups included Swedish Hypezoo which monitors new products, Danish ClaimMy.biz which will help local business manage the geolocation jungle, and French Mailforgood which enables donations to NGO’s via email.
Startupbootcamp mentors were also prominent at both events (among others: Ari Wegter delivered a keynote and both Nikolaj Nyholm and Peter Engelbrecht were panelists TC Nordic; and Thomas Madsen-Mygdal was a mentor at Mini Seecamp). All in all, a testament to the caliber of our mentors.
The European ‘Silicon Valley inferiority complex’
The second observation is that the endless discussion about Europe not having a Silicon Valley equivalent drags on. “Do we have the talent? Do we have the investment dry powder? Do we have the market” and on and on. My answer, to paraphrase another Startupbootcamp Mentor, Michael Jackson of Mangrove Partners: “Who cares? Get on with it!” It’s like not going to university because you didn’t get into Harvard or not going out to a restaurant because you couldn’t get a table at Noma.
The way we’re going to win – assuming this is even a battle – is not by obsessing about replicating something which cannot be replicated. It’s by embracing what makes us different. We’ve got a fragmented, multi-lingual market? We know how to conquer international markets from the get-go! The talent isn’t concentrated in one place? We know how to attract and (remotely) manage international talent! Our angels aren’t as active? We’re better at boostrapping!
Having Mike Butcher of TechCrunch come to Copenhagen and agree that Something is Cooking in the Copenhagen Startup Kitchen puts us and the Nordic region on the map. It attracts talent and inspires first-time entrepreneurs to jump off the fence.
As David Cohen @davidcohen mentioned in a tweet, if you google “best startup town” you get Boulder, Colorado – a town in the west with 100,000 residents who are a mix of hippies, artists and college students which is neither particularly close to an airport nor cheap to live in. Why are they on the map? Because David, Brad Feld and others and launched TechStars and a bunch of other initiatives and got on with it.
So apply to Startupbootcamp and get on with it! ;D