Why "lonely" tech entrepreneurs in Europe require assistance

Stock photo of an anxious businesswoman

Why can't Europe match Silicon Valley's stunning accomplishments?

Leo Apotheker asserts, "We're not just a bunch of stupid Europeans who are only good for going to the beach.".

Mr. Apotheker oversaw SAP, a German business software organization that became the leader in its industry. He also served for a brief time as the US powerhouse Hewlett-Packard's CEO.

He thinks that Europe has a lot to offer.

The 69-year-old, who is semi-retired, splits his time between Paris and London and has spent the last ten years providing advice to small software companies.

He now plays a new role as a member of a group of seasoned tech professionals determined to change Europe's dismal track record of creating successful technology companies.

Mr. Apotheker is a member of Boardwave, Phill Robinson's idea. The Parkinson's Disease diagnosis forced Mr. Robinson, a retired British former software executive who lived in Silicon Valley, to retire.

Mr. Robinson's thoughts on what he could do to elevate Europe's tech scene to Californian levels gave rise to Boardwave.

The day after Boardwave's website went live, Mr. Apotheker started working there. We're thankful for the careers we've had and the chance to impart our knowledge, as Mr. Robinson puts it. " .

Both are motivated by a sense of urgency that time is running out and a desire to spare future generations of tech pioneers the hardships they had to go through.

Europe does have some leaders, Mr. Apotheker notes. He emphasizes specialized fields like courses in industrial design and the UK's dominance in financial software. He commends the financial technology (fintech) scene in London.

Why, though, aren't there more?

Map indicating Silicon Valley
Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, eBay, and many other companies are based in Silicon Valley.

He disproves the conventional wisdom that money is much easier to come by in the US.

"I don't believe this is about raising capital; there are plenty of venture capital firms in Europe. " .

In 2023, investors will pour $50 billion into European tech companies, predicts venture capital firm Atomico.   .

Lack of peers is one issue facing European tech entrepreneurs.

"I formerly resided in Silicon Valley, where you can always find a group of people who can offer you advice. According to Mr. Apotheker, "When I was running SAP and needed advice, I talked to the wall.

"Boardwave is attempting to mentor other business owners in order to help them develop. Being the boss can be a very isolating position. You wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something, and it won't stop. Picking up the phone and speaking with someone has enormous value. ".

He imagines that the Boardwave team will spare his young successors those restless nights and will help bring the big ideas to fruition.

More business technology:.

When he was running SAP, Mr. Apotheker still wishes he could have had a supportive mentor. At SAP, I had to make a lot of difficult decisions. I wish I could have talked to someone who had worked there before me so I could get their opinion. "  .

A feeling that time is not on the side of sage older men also led to the creation of Boardwave. "Most of the few remaining hairs I have are gray. I therefore intend to devote my remaining time to this. " .

That includes discussing choices that did not turn out well.

"We discuss errors we've made. We have done a lot of things wrong and a few things right.

The overwhelming optimism of Silicon Valley is frequently contrasted with the European pessimism.

Elizabeth Holmes appears in federal court for sentencing after being convicted of four counts of fraud, November 18, 2022
Elizabeth Holmes, a former Silicon Valley luminary, is incarcerated for 11 years for fraud.

Theranos, the Silicon Valley start-up whose founder Elizabeth Holmes has just started an eleven-year prison sentence for defrauding investors, is one of the industries' many fraudulent ventures, but Mr. Apotheker values the capacity to ask incisive questions.

I can be cynical and pessimistic because of my mixed German and French ancestry, but I use that to my advantage. " .

Mr. Robinson, his 58-year-old coworker, is open about how Parkinson's Disease inspires him. "Before my brain mushes up, I want to impart my vast knowledge of the software industry to others. ".

At the age of 23, he earned one of the first computer science degrees in the UK and started a successful career in business software in Silicon Valley.

"I think there is a lot of talent in Europe, but it is dispersed. While Silicon Valley is 40 miles long, we are 1,000 miles across. In 2022, he started Boardwave at his kitchen table, and it has since grown to include 800 founders, CEOs, and members throughout Europe.

Phil Robinson, entrepreneur and founder of Broadwave
According to Phil Robinson, the European tech scene is fragmented.

These mentors can be contacted by startups that have registered with Boardwave. Boardwave wants to guide them to the crucial £100 million turnover mark so they can take flight internationally.

Other well-established programs support Boardwave's mission to advance high-tech in Europe. Slush, a sizable annual event held in Finland, is a platform for tech startups to network with potential investors.

Juhani Hintikka is the CEO of the Finnish cybersecurity success story WithSecure, which fights the global threat of malware, hacking, and ransom demands.

He concurs with the idea behind Boardwave and provides free coaching to local start-ups. "People do seek advice, and I try to contribute in some small way. " .

But he acknowledges that the fragmentation of Europe's business cultures, as opposed to the sizable domestic market that US companies can access, limits the ability of innovators to flourish.

Ever ambitious, Mr. Apotheker names Airbus as a great example of a European leader. "To compete with Boeing, European airline manufacturers banded together, and today Airbus is the biggest in the world.

. "

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