The founders of some of Europe’s biggest technology startup hits — Skype, Rovio, Spotify, and Tuenti — along with key planks of the ecosystem, including accelerators SeedCamp and HackFwd, are throwing their weight behind the European Commission’s “Startup Europe” initiative being spearheaded by the outspoken EC Vice President Neelie Kroes.
Specifically, they’ve agreed to join what is being called the “Leaders Club” where they’ll be charged with acting as role models for entrepreneurship in Europe, along with being brought to the policy table where they’ll hopefully be able to influence future European Commission policy for the better.
“Europeans need to be creative and fearless,” says Neelie Kroes in a statement. “That’s how dozens of the world’s most exciting web and tech companies were born in the EU, and I want the world to know it.”
The full list of members of the newly-formed Leaders Club: Zaryn Denzel, founder of Tuenti, Spain’s largest ‘invite-only’ social network; Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, founders of online music streaming service Spotify; Kaj Hed, Chairman of Rovio (Angry Birds); Lars Hinrichs, founder and CEO of HackFwd, a pre-seed investment company; Joanna Shields, CEO and Chair of Tech City Investment Organisation; Reshma Sohoni, Partner of SeedCamp, the pan-European accelerator; Boris Verldhuijzen van Zanten, co-founder of The Next Web blog; Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, Kazaa, Joost and Atomico.
“These people didn’t just talk about doing something, they went and did it. That’s why young people and leaders should listen to them,” adds Kroes.
In addition to what cynics might frame as largely a cheerleading role — the announcement talks of helping to “inspire others by sharing strategic views, experiences and best practices on what needs to be done to improve Europe’s entrepreneurial spirit and start-up culture” — more tangibly they’re being asked to support the implementation of Kroes’ 6-point Action Plan to accelerate and connect local entrepreneurship ecosystems in Europe to help startups scale globally.
This includes a number of European Commission-style sub-initatives:
- The Startup Europe Partnership, to unlock expertise, mentoring, technology and services; EU Accelerators Forum to increase awareness of the existing accelerator programs
- EU Crowdfunding Networks to link up existing crowd-funding platforms, especially those specialised in web startups
- Making Venture Capitalists more aware of Web Business by sharing success stories and through networking activities
- Fostering Web Talent by: a) Expanding the role of online education platforms (such as “Massive Online Open Courses”) to combat the shortage of Web developers; b) Using barter platforms as marketplace for sharing and trading skills Europe-wide among Web entrepreneurs; and c) Exploring the viability, at European level, of twinning senior, experienced people with young entrepreneurs to share ideas and experiences.