The Startup Manifesto was created by nine leading European entrepreneurs:
Zaryn Dentzel, Founder and CEO of Tuenti
Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify
Kaj Hed, Chairman, Rovio Entertainment
Lars Hinrichs, Founder and CEO of Hackfwd
Martin Lorentzon, Founder and Chairman of Spotify
Joanna Shields, CEO of Tech City UK
Reshma Sohoni, Co-Founder and Partner of Seedcamp
Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zarten, Co-Founder of The Next Web
Niklas Zennstrom, CEO of Atomico
A manifesto for entrepreneurship & innovation to power growth in the EU
Help internet-driven economic growth transform the lives of millions.
Economic conditions in Europe remain hugely challenging with the European Commission forecasting that euro-zone GDP is set to shrink by 0.4% this year. Yet the growing importance of internet-driven economic growth could transform this picture by helping improve the lives of millions of people providing them with new jobs, new skills and renewed hopes for a better future.
Drawn from the combined experience of dozens of Europeans who were lucky enough to imagine, build and grow successful businesses — businesses that created thousands of jobs — we have distilled 22 actions which, taken together, can give European businesses the best chance of future success. We now call on entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and other stakeholders across the continent to engage in this dialogue and share their views on the manifesto to help move us towards the adoption of this singular digital growth plan for the EU.
Our recommendations are:
1. Education & Skills
- Make teachers digitally confident and competent to rise to the challenge.
- Teach our children the principles, processes and the passion for entrepreneurship from a young age.
- Encourage university students to start a business before they graduate.
- Prepare graduates for a radically different marketplace.
- Encourage large companies to provide training for the general public.
2. Access to Talent
- Turn Europe into the easiest place for highly skilled talent to start a company and get a job by rolling out a pan-European Startup Visa.
- Make it easy for companies to hire outside their home countries.
- Make it easier for companies to let employees go.
- Bring the best brains back home.
3. Access to Capital
- Increase private and institutional investment in startups.
- Make it easier for high-growth companies to raise capital through public markets.
- Buy more from smaller businesses.
- Institute an E-corp: a new type of cross-European corporation.
- Tax share options as capital gains, not income.
4. Data Policy, Protection & Privacy
- Revise and normalise data protection laws.
- Remove the requirement for data providers to store information in any given country.
- Make government data public.
- Make governments think digitally.
5. Thought Leadership
- Initiate a mentality shift across Europe in terms of how we define success.
- Appoint a Chief Digital Officer for every country in the EU.
- Create a ‘best practices’ repository.
- Establish a Digital European Forum.
This is an excellent manifesto. Well thought, clearly written with some strong action points. But there is one thing that was a recurring thought for me as I read this:
What’s in a name? A lot.
What you call your manifesto is crucial. It will shape how people will relate to what you have to say. In particular, it will determine whether you can attract people’s attention to even pay attention to your manifesto.
The ‘Startup Manifesto’ is a good name. But in my opinion, it’s not a great name.
It’s a good name because it describes what it is. But it’s not a great name because it doesn’t fully share the power of the vision they are creating.
Essentially, what the authors are suggesting is that if the governments of the EU fully invested in entrepreneurship and startups then the economic potential would go from 0.4% to a predicted 8% and as high as 18%.
This is not about startups. That’s just how you get there.
Let me say it this way. When you tell your friends you’re going on holiday, it’s unlikely that you will talk only about the type of plane you’ll be riding in to get there. No, it’s more likely you’ll talk about the more exciting thing, which is the destination you’re heading to.
I don’t see this as a black and white rule. There are times when you want to stop something (Stop Uranium mining) so your title and manifesto should reflect that. At other times, it’s more likely that you will focus on the aspiration, the goal, the vision of what the future will look like.
While I love startups and have worked for myself for most of my life, when I read this manifesto the thing that stood out was the possibility of a digital Europe. Or even better ‘Startup You’. (Maybe that’s a bit cute, Startup EU). Or perhaps Startup Europe might work.
Even though this was written in 2013, I wish Australia had a document like this!
PS: I would have added a visual – at the least a visual for the cover of the document.