I just read an article by The New York Times entitled “An Aging Europe in Decline.” As one can imagine, this article talks about the dark clouds hanging over Europe and even includes a comment made by the Pope at the European Parliament last November: “In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a ‘grandmother,’ no longer fertile and vibrant.” Does this mean that all of us living in Europe are doomed? Not so fast.
It is quite ironic to me that one day before I read the aforementioned article, I read another one from Forbes entitled “Why The Next Billion Dollar Companies Will Come From Europe”. How is this possible given the bleak outlook described by the New York Times and the Pope? The truth is that while Europe certainly does have its share of problems, the tough times since the financial crisis have also spurred world-class innovation. Look no further than Hungarian startups that have gone global: Prezi, Logmein, NNG (formerly Nav N Go), and Ustream. This Forbes article also mentions Norbeus, a Serbian company that had to become profitable from day one since it did not have access to VC funding. This lack of funding, however, pushed Norbeus to innovate and now they have a globally successful business to show for it.
Another recent Forbes article that caught my eye was entitled “Could Ukraine Be The Next Silicon Valley”? Once again, this is not the kind of headline one would expect to see about an Eastern European country. The world’s largest online freelance site, Elance, considers Ukraine to be the third best place in the world to find people with advanced technical skills. The entire Central European region is a source for talent and this is now finding its way into new European startups with global aspirations.
If one chooses to look at Europe as a whole, then the outlook is indeed gloomy. I choose, however, to dig a little deeper to notice that Europe is quietly producing globally competitive startups that could be the world’s next billion dollar companies.
For more information on Europe’s promise or decline, please refer to the following articles:
An Aging Europe in Decline, The New York Times, Contributing OP-ED Writer, January 6th, 2015 (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html)
Why The Next Billion Dollar Companies Will Come From Europe, Forbes, Allison Coleman, January 4th, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/ohbhdkx)
Could Ukraine Be The Next Silicon Valley?, Forbes, Greg Satell, November 24th, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/mbf6664)
For more information about the Corvinus Global Business blogger, go to https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinmjackson1.