It can be serendipitous. Or highly motivated.
Whatever the reason, it just so happens that no matter the week we decide to launch our annual Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley week (SEC2SV), our good friends from TechCrunch seem to follow suit.
Truth is: it’s San Francisco in 2016, dude. Not a single day goes by without 2 or 3 very relevant events happening at the same time.
But this coincidence makes me think of 2 different waves that I’ve been experiencing for the last few years.
On one side the ever-growing, massive wave of early stage startups, packaged in different shape and form but all pushing for the same objective: gather an audience, no matter the cost. The App-Economy. Easy to launch, hard to sustain at scale.
On the other side, the growing opportunity is that digital disruption is finally permeating the most traditional industries, the ones that are core to the economies and democracies of our world. Health systems, transportation, education.
I call this opportunity as every other entrepreneur would.
Somebody much smarter than me (Steve Case, founder of AOL) called this historical evolution as the second wave (“the app economy and mobile revolution”) vs the third wave (on Amazon “The Third Wave: an entrepreneur vision of the future“).
According to Case we are living this historical transition as we speak.
I couldn’t agree more. The rules to be successful in this 3rd wave are significantly different. Partnership and integration with government and policy makers are not an option but the only way through.
Entrepreneurs of the 3rd wave will have to be fluent in policy-makers’ language, from day one. Existing rules and traditional industries are the real bottleneck to adoption.
And guess what? Europe will play a pivotal role in this process.
Not only EU (in aggregate) is the largest economy in the world (16.3 trillion Euros GDP). And it is also the arena where most of the crucial decisions are being made.
Some will find it hard to believe, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Bruxelles is increasingly becoming the center of gravity of disputes that define the beginning or the end of new industries.
All you have to do is open a newspaper (if you can still find one):
TTIP, Apple vs Ireland /EU, Amazon taxation, Facebook privacy, Uber and its drivers, YouTube’s ruling on Hate Speech and the Right to be Forgotten.
The list goes on and on.
Somehow serendipitously, platforms such as SEC2SV have become a natural middle ground where these confrontations between the policy makers and the large, established businesses can take place. Even more importantly, they set the standards of how healthier practices between a nascent business and policy makers should develop, early on.
Government will always play a role in the 3rd wave industries. Whether you are building drones, self driving cars or a new financial systems.The earlier you start that conversation, the greater the chances entrepreneurs will have to scale, prosper and change the status quo for the better.
We, at Mind the Bridge are extremely humbled to play a role in building those, uh … you guessed it, bridges.
Now, our friends at TC Disrupt seem to be still focused on the second wave. Launch a product, hunt for an audience. And that’s why SEC2SV will prevail as the most relevant platform to look at. In the long run. Maybe. Hopefully. Not to mention that the food is always significantly better at events run but a bunch of good looking Italians…
Let the party begin.