If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Y Combinator can now consider itself twice flattered. Y Combinator’s funding methodology of investing a small amount of money across a wide array of young entrepreneurs has already inspired other programs, such as TechStars out of Colorado.
And earlier this week, Y Combinator was cloned again, this time in Europe. YEurope (not affiliated with Y Combinator) launched its own similar program for European internet and communication technology startups. The choice of the name launched a small flame war on Y Combinator’s news site, but understandably so. The program not only copied the “Y” and front page slide show (ironically a product of a Y Combinator startup), but also the entire application.
But, those details get in the way of what YEurope is really trying to do, which is encourage entrepreneurial spirit in Europe. Paul Böhm started the project after his own frustrated experiences financing a “social sorting” startup (detailed in his comments). A recent study by the Aho Group, chaired by the Former Prime Minister of Finland, echoes his concerns at the state European investment in innovation. After closing shop on his startup, Böhm went back to his original work in security consulting and started a non-profit project center called Metalab, which will house the quality time and lectures selected applicants will get with the entrepreneurial community .
Like Y Combinator and TechStars, YEurope invests in startups based on the number of founders (1-3, 5000€/each), and taking a 2-10% stake in the company. They plan on accepting 8 startups, who will travel to Vienna to build their companies. Their application drive ends May 15th.
We applaud the initiative. Perhaps a different and less confusingly-similar name would have been a better choice.