Path to Scale. Finance lessons from European entrepreneurs


A fresh March 2019 report from Nesta, the UK-based innovation foundation, details a number of rich case studies of how diverse entrepreneurs have grown and funded their business, including, of course, crowdfunding. We are grateful to have been referenced and are proud to have two members feature as case studies. The report is part of the within the StartupEurope Partnership, which was established by the European Commission in January 2014 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP). It is a pan-European platform dedicated to transforming European startups into scaleups by linking them with global corporations and stock exchanges.

The new report asks, why some startups in Europe scale to billion-euro valuations whilst others barely grow. Despite the best efforts of investors, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs to determine the recipe for success, there remains a substantial gap with other entrepreneurial ecosystems like the US or Israel, both in terms of the number of scaleups and the capital they raise.

This ‘scaleup gap’ is often explained by looking at barriers on the ‘supply side’ of the ecosystem, including the availability of talent, access to markets, building leadership capacity, infrastructure, and accessing suitable finance and risk capital.

Whilst these issues are important to address, there is also a need to look at the ‘demand side’: evidence suggests that some European entrepreneurs are inhibited from scaling by uncertainty over the paths to scale, a lack of confidence in their ability to follow these paths, or mixed motivations based on their perceptions of future hurdles.

This is especially true when it comes to raising finance: one study in the United Kingdom, France and Germany shows that almost 60 per cent of entrepreneurs are not able to access all finance they need from their preferred source, 16 per cent can’t access enough capital at all from any source, and 5 per cent don’t know where to look.

A better understanding of the role of different sources of finance in business growth can help entrepreneurs to consider alternatives, and give them confidence to pursue these in order to scale up their business.

The new report aims to be both educational and inspirational, combining a practical guide to finance with real-life examples which demystify these options. We hope that it serves as a starting point for startups and aspiring scaleups to find inspiration in the journeys of others, and become better equipped to map out their own paths to success.

For the full report please click here or from the Nesta website.


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