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08 April 2014

Feeding Europe's Startups  

Europe is nurturing thriving startup scenes in London, Berlin and other centers of commerce and innovation across the continent, thanks largely to local investors and entrepreneurs.

Many of these companies have operated below the radar of the U.S.-dominated venture capital industry, but that may be changing. One sign came in early April with news that Konstantin Guericke, the German-born co-founder of the U.S. business networking site LinkedIn, had become a partner in Berlin-based Earlybird Venture Capital.

Earlybird has raised €700 million since its founding in 1997 and has €280 million currently invested. Guericke has reportedly invested some of his own money with Earlybird, whose portfolio companies include the developers of the Wunderlist task-management app and the Onefootball app for soccer fans. Both startups also have the backing of prominent American venture capitalists. 

Historically, venture capital has been a difficult fit for European companies and investors. Most VC money is halfway around the world in California, and Europe simply does not have the venture investment culture familiar across the Atlantic.

Still, venture capital investments in Europe reportedly grew by nearly 20 percent in 2013 to $7.4 billion, and Guericke has challenged the continent’s VCs to take a hard look at the innovations emerging from Europe’s hottest startups.

“We now have more ambitious entrepreneurs in Europe,” he says, “and we need more ambitious venture capitalists.”