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Brynne Herbert: Europe rising

(Editor’s note: This was originally posted on LinkedIn. It’s reposted here with the permission of the author.)

BY BRYNNE HERBERT, founder and CEO of MOVE Guides

I spent a day at the Goldman Sachs Disruptive Technology Conference (in London). Amid cold-pressed juice, investor 1–1s and blockchain discussion, hallway chats focused largely on the growth of the European tech ecosystem. As the CEO of a global company, I split my time between London and San Francisco, so I was particularly interested to hear the latest insights in from the group assembled by this global bank.

34My assessment is that Europe’s tech ecosystem is certainly rising. Niklas Zennestrom, European tech champion and well-known Founder of Skype and Atomico, and subsequent speakers, shared some interesting points:

  • Europe has produced 40 companies with billion-dollar-plus valuations (including Skype)
  • Europe produces two times the number of STEM graduates versus the United States
  • Europe is very well suited to be the FinTech capital of the world

With growing funding markets that are arguably less exposed to the volatility of the U.S. ecosystem and successful companies growing quickly, it’s clear that Europe is rising. The conference mood was more positive than what I’ve seen in San Francisco in the last six weeks. Excitement about growing ScaleUps is palpable and investors continue to see startups as a way to get returns in a world where other high yield investment opportunities are lacking.

At MOVE Guides, we have joint headquarters in London and San Francisco with our product and engineering team is based in London (we see first hand the benefit of the many talented STEM graduates from across Europe who can easily move to London from other parts of the European Union) and our finance team based in London — ideally suited to benefit from the FinTech innovation and talent. We’re proving it is possible to build a big global company accessing the best of both markets.

Despite all the momentum in the Europe tech ecosystem, there remains a stark funding gap for growth capital. As Oliver Samwer put it, “Who in the UK or Europe would have given Tesla billions of dollars to build a new car from scratch? No one.” Risk tolerance and capital, not ideas, is the reason it wasn’t built in Europe, he proposed.

Seventy percent of Series B-plus rounds in 2015 included non-European capital, while the number is much lower for Series A rounds. I’m not sure this is a bad thing though. Capital can easily move across borders and a global capital bases helps accelerate a global business — supporting recruiting, customer acquisition and networks.

At MOVE Guides, we have raised all of our institutional rounds with participation from both NEA (Silicon Valley-based) and Notion Capital (UK-based). Our two board members have moved abroad themselves and completely understand our global opportunity and business model. Their local networks accelerate MOVE Guides in each market — whether it’s introductions to customer prospects in London or to future investors in San Francisco — and we are a better company for this. It’s been a great experience.

Our two board members have moved abroad themselves and completely understand our global opportunity and business model. Their local networks accelerate MOVE Guides in each market — whether it’s introductions to customer prospects in London or to future investors in San Francisco — and we are a better company for this. It’s been a great experience.

We must continue to keep deepening links between the European and California ecosystems — strengthening networks, building relationships, accelerating the number of cross-border deals and give more companies the opportunity to build a strong global capital base as they scale. Ultimately this will create more global leaders — across categories — and more people who can re-invest in future innovation. In both markets.

Goldman’s first technology conference in EMEA was a great step in this direction — and it was lovely to see friends and colleagues from both sides of the Atlantic talking about Europe rising — and how to build more global companies in both the U.S. and Europe.

imgresAbout the author:

Brynne Herbert is founder and CEO of MOVE Guides, a consultant firm that helps companies find and move employees globally. MOVE make it easy for companies to move their employees – for recruiting, relocations, projects and expatriate assignments.

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