Home Not in the Valley? At Least Compete With It

Not in the Valley? At Least Compete With It

The following is one in a series of guest posts by venture capitalists that we’re running on ReadWriteStart. This one is by Paul Jozefak, a VC based in Hamburg, Germany, who used to run SAP AG’s European venture activities and is now a managing partner at Neuhaus Partners. The original post can be found on his blog.

One way or another, I’ve addressed the question of “Where is the Silicon Valley of Europe” a hundred times, be it in interviews, in blog posts, on Twitter, or on panels. Ultimately, there isn’t really a “Valley” in Europe, only some places kind of like it. If you want my ideas on that, I have other posts on the topic.

Yet, if you are an entrepreneur in Europe, don’t forget that the Valley exists. Measure yourself by “Valley standards,” not just by your peers in Europe. It irks me a bit when I speak with start-ups that compare themselves only to local competition. So often I will hear a pitch and ask what the company’s competition is in the US. Often enough, the answer (unfortunately, never directly) is, “We haven’t taken the time to figure that out yet.”

If you share this approach, you’d have to be nuts. There is likely an entrepreneur in California who would have, if need be, swam to the US and worked four jobs for the money to launch their venture, without giving a second thought to “quality of life” or “spending time with the kids.” Think what you like about that entrepreneur’s priorities in life, but don’t doubt that they’ll enjoy crushing you if you’re competing against them.

The Valley may be sunny and inviting, but everyone is there to win. Those who aren’t tend to pack up quickly. Those who stay and continue to start up or finance new businesses have the loftiest of goals. They’re probably not all about the money. Sure, they enjoy the perks of an exit, but my experience is that a lot of people in the Valley are out to change the world, or at least try. You hear it in their pitch and you see it in their eyes.

Ask me what I see lacking most in startups in Europe and I’ll say hunger, drive, and lofty goals. The few that have it you recognize immediately. They usually end up succeeding quickly, and you chase them to invest in their companies. Those who don’t have it probably never will succeed. It’s not about being “American,” which is another argument that is often made. The Valley is made up of people from every corner of the earth. Each and every startup I have visited there was a pot pourri of backgrounds, often European.

So, do we need a “Valley” per se in Europe? No, who cares. It’s only a term. Do we need entrepreneurs who are hungry, who are passionate, and who aim high? Yes, and to remain competitive and know where to aim, we have to know what our true competition is.

Read Paul Jozefak’s last post on ReadWriteStart: What Should You Ask VCs?

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.