Street Smarts


European Entrepreneurs must Startup Global

European startup companies actually have a big advantage over US based startups and many don’t even know it. No, I am not talking about fat government subsidies or protected local markets. I am talking about “street smarts”.

When I was 13 I remember visiting New York City. Not just the Big Apple Manhattan, but I visited a neighborhood in a ghetto of the Bronx where not too many white people visit unless they come in police cars and carry guns. It was severe culture shock for me, a skinny white middle class boy from the suburbs. If you grow up in the Bronx you learn street smarts fast or you don’t survive.

European entrepreneurs and startups grow up in tiny local markets and are surrounded by different languages and cultures. They develop their own type of street smarts. I read an interesting interview on European Entrepreneurship today. Here is an excerpt:

TechCrunch Europe Blog: (
Seedcamp Founder Saul Klein (SK) Talks European Entrepreneurship
by Mark Hendrickson MH), September 25, 2009

MH: What are some of the more unique traits of European entrepreneurs, especially when compared to entrepreneurs in the US or elsewhere? Do you find they are driven by different motivations or that they have different personality tendencies?SK: I think that the best entrepreneurs, regardless of geography, have similar traits; they are very determined, single-minded, and not afraid of taking risks. And I think that’s true wherever they are. One of the things that European entrepreneurs might have different than US entrepreneurs is that they are typically more international in outlook, by virtual of the fact that most of their home markets are not big enough to sustain really big businesses. So you actually have to think internationally and globally from the get-go. Whereas in the US, you can build a huge business by just being successful in the US. I think with the web the way it is now, that’s potentially an advantage.

When I worked with USA based tech startups in the late 90’s, I remember how little they understood about internationalization. The rule then was that only after a company has passed 10 Million $ in sales should they consider foreign markets. Consider that less than 30% of the American public even own a passport.

If you are a European entrepreneur, then you have an advantage. Do you know how to capitalize on it?

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who believes that this beautiful world that we have created needs our help. Learn more at

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