A volcano in Iceland – European startup hell, or opportunity?

So like everyone else in Europe right now, I am fascinated by the impact of the volcano in Iceland, which is spreading ash all over northern Europe and shutting down the airlines. Eyjafjallajokull is now the new in vogue swear word in Europe, if you can say it.

Yesterday my Twitter stream was full of entrepreneurs suddenly saying their travel plans were being thrown into chaos. It seems that Europe’s startup economy has been running partly on the spread low-cost airlines for the past 5 years, and without airlines the startups, along with the whole of the general business sector, are going to be badly affected.

As I have long said, the quintessential startup in Europe is: CEO from anywhere, money from a pan European investor (often based in London, the biggest financial centre) and developers/engineers often in Central Europe. That implies plenty of travel. After all, by plane we are all, at the most, two or three hours away from eachother. With planes grounded, that is going to have a huge effect.

Look at how big this cloud will be tomorrow at 6am, across Europe.

So, I would love to hear from you in the comments below, a) How is this situation affecting you, and how can TechCrunch Europe help? and b) what do you think the startup opportunities are from this crap situation?

Maybe if you are driving somewhere and have room, maybe you could offer other startups a lift? Claire Boonstra of Layar is already taking 40 people on a bus from Cannes/MIPTV back to Amsterdam.

For instance, what happens if the volcano continues to erupt for months? Or even years? Large numbers of European events will be disrupted. Will we be all be traveling by train in future? Is that a startup opportunity – unifying data from Europe’s train providers? Or will cheap telepresence suddenly become a big opportunity?

Leave us your comments below.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a genuine, but strange image of this mischievous volcano. Remind you of anything?