Guy Kawasaki: How Can European Entrepreneurs Enchant Funders?

Transcript follows & video below.  This is Part III of the interview.  You can view Part II and Part I here

I originally came from Ireland & London & definitely there’s more challenges for women to source venture over there. And I know that you’ve spoken in European countries including Ireland. (I missed that unfortunately!) I wondered if you would care to give any advice or tips to entrepreneurs in general there about how to enchant European investors & how to achieve funding?

These are some data points from an American with the caveat that I could be full of shit. So one thing I’ve noticed about European entrepreneurs. I’ll be more general I’ve noticed in European societies that they really care about the legacy & heritage to the point where I think it’s a negative. There’s some people who I meet with & their whole shit is that their father’s sister’s uncle’s brother’s cousin’s nephew was Napoleon’s lietenant. So 500 years ago my family was with Napoleon & so that’s my claim to fame. And you know from an American investor’s standpoint we don’t care. In fact I prefer if your family ran a 711. The great stories are 1st generation comes to America, cleans yards, runs 711, maid, housekeeper, whatever, saves every penny. Puts their kids through college. Their kid happens to be very bright. Goes onto graduate school compsci, material science, electrical engineering, anything. In the middle of their masters or PhD they get this brilliant idea. They want to start a company. They tell their parents who are working in 711 that even though I’m at Stanford or Carnegie Mellon or Harvard or Yale whatever, Michigan, they say I want to stop this & I want to create this company. The parents freaking freak out ‘Five generations of our family it took to get you here into this college, into this Masters program & now you’re going to quit to start this company!’ That’s the guy or the gal we want because that person doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. That person is not copping this attitude that my relatives came over on the Mayflower, I’m a 3rd generation American, my father has endowed a chair at Yale, I have this huge trust fund, you should fund me! We want people whose parents work at 711, who scraped together, who left Vietnam in a helicopter in 1976. Those are the people that create great companies.
So we got on this question about Europe. We don’t care about your past. The other thing is we don’t care that you failed because in Silicon Valley everybody’s failed. A failure doesn’t tarnish your family for the next 5 generations. No more than success 5 generations ago will make you successful in our eyes either. It doesn’t count either way.
The second observation I have about European entrepreneurs is they often want to create the European version of an American idea. They want to create ebay for Germany, they want to create facebook for Germany so they are shooting too low. Their goal should be that they have such a great idea that the Silicon Valley entrepreneur wants to copy them. That’s what they should aspire to, not to be the German version of youtube (how hard is that?). True innovation occurs when the test is 2 people from Stanford say ‘Have you heard this great idea, we should copy this!’ That’s the test!

Guy Kawasaki

Brilliant, fantastic. That’s really great advice. I’m sure we’ll all appreciate hearing that. Thank you so much for your time today Guy thank you!

My pleasure

Guy Kawasaki

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