What makes an entrepreneur successful? How do entrepreneurs define their success? What are the secrets behind their inspiring journeys? Promoting Enterprise presents the ‘Secrets of Success 2016-2017’ brochure, which answers all of these questions and more. So what is inside? This year the brochure features interviews with 33 successful business owners from across Europe, under the themes of: Concept/Idea, Drive, Leadership/Team, Success and finally Europe.
From Albania to the United Kingdom, tourism to medical innovation, the entrepreneurs and businesses featured in this brochure offer something for everyone. Each entrepreneur provides details of their personal success, as well as encouraging and inspiring words for other entrepreneurs to learn from and reflect upon. Each profile is also available in the native language of the entrepreneurs, so why not browse through and discover the some of the inspiring minds of Europe in the field of SMEs, startups and scaleups.
Read the brochure here.
Welcome and join us to celebrate the EEPA launch!
Nominations for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards open today (Thursday 23rd February 2017). The prestigious awards ceremony will take place this November in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, as part of the SME Assembly. Public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States and COSME participating countries, will be competing for the coveted awards which go to the most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This year there will be one minor modification to the award categories: the ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category will be suspended for one year, as the number of entries was consistently very low; we are using the time of the suspension to review the categories.
Therefore the five active categories for 2017 will be as follows:
Find about more about the EEPA launch and other exciting things to come in the first issue of 2017! Read more >>
We continue our showcase of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist with an introduction to the national winners competing in Category-3 – Improving the Business Environment. These three projects, each with their own specific focus, have in common the fact that they improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their respective countries – Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Two of the projects are based on a competition/award scheme, while the third is a co-working space that motivates young entrepreneurs.
So, in no particular order, the first in our list this week is Denmark’s Next Step Challenge (NSC). NSC is an ambitious European startup competition focusing on Smart Energy & Digitalisation and Sound & Home Integration. Ambitious startups are offered the chance to access a one-of-a-kind business development programme in direct collaboration with big corporations, SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen. Along with EUR 250 000 in prize money, the winners are also supported by SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen, who open up their organisations, share knowledge and strategy, and assist with product and/or business development. Check out their video!
The next project takes us to Portugal and the Leader SME programme, which annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015! Have a look at their video!
KIKštarter was established to encourage young people in Slovenia to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. A co-working space in the deprived area of Kamnik, it provides entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and is home to 27 startups. The startups receive assistance and guidance in developing their ideas, have access to workspace, and participate in a series of motivational events. The project is contributing to the promotion of entrepreneurship to all residents in the area, which is undergoing regeneration, and helping to unlock the potential of the area and its people. The initiative has directly resulted in seven new businesses and at least as many new jobs with minimal financial investment.
Only one of these projects can be declared the ultimate winner in the category and, given the high standard of all three, the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult choice. But choose they must, and their eventual choice will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.
Daan De Wever co-founded Belgian Network Solutions in 2001 and is currently Managing Director of the communications company Destiny, which he co-founded with his brother Samuel. In this post, Daan talks about his experience in setting up his company and provides advice for budding entrepreneurs.
When I was starting up my business, I’d look into the mirror and I’d say: “I’m 28 years old, we have a fantastic idea, but do I have the skills to build a cloud-telco myself?” The answer was “No” but, two months later, we hired an experienced CEO and put him in place above myself and my brother, who I co-founded the company with.
That was the best decision of our lives. We needed finance. By the end of 2008, we’d searched for seed money; the round closed at the end of 2009. After a period of birth, survival, and fast growth, we closed a further round with private equity in May 2016. We decided to internationalise our business because everything boils down to the maxim, “Don’t miss your opportunity.”
Yes, we could be a nice “lifestyle” company in Belgium, but we believe we would miss out on opportunities in a market where mid-sized companies are massively underserved by incumbents. Today, we are active in eight European countries and our next aim is to achieve strong organic growth so that we can acquire other companies.
Having done it myself, my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to follow your dream and do the things that make you happy!
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Businesses across Europe already benefit from the European Single Market, but there are still challenges to tackle before SMEs and start-ups can fully gain from it. This was discussed during the final Single Market Forum, held in Amsterdam in June. Start-ups, SMEs, experts and government officials all agreed that it should be easier for businesses to start-up, hire talent, comply with administrative issues, win public tenders, scale-up and trade cross-border in Europe.
These were the main takeaways for start-ups and SMEs:
Strengthen cross-border trade in the EU
A services passport will be created to harmonise and unify procedures, in particular for business services such as accounting, architecture and engineering, ensuring they only need to complete them once and can cross-borders. This will make it easier for service providers who want to offer their activities in other Member States. There is also an ongoing plan to tackle VAT in E-commerce. This means business owners will have an easier time selling online with less paperwork. Additionally this means customers will receive a better service and lower prices when shopping online. A double win!
Start-ups and SMEs to have an easier access to public tenders
Public contracts and tenders offer many opportunities for SMEs to grow, yet many SMEs rule themselves out due to burdensome and diverging national rules on public procurement. This should not be the case! SMEs and start-ups’ participation in public tenders means that public money is better spent, but also results in better competition for public contracts, which essentially boosts growth, transparency and accountability.
A single information info point for all businesses
How do businesses find the information they need to navigate cross-borders? A single digital gateway is being developed to allow for business owners to access all the information they need to benefit from cross-border trade in a one-stop-shop. In order to know what information is needed, a collaborative discussion needs to take place. We need you on board to help us develop it.
Better education and access to finances are needed
Finally, how to support entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to grow in the Single Market? Let’s talk about lifelong learning. In today’s economy it is clear that learning skills by itself is no longer enough for a successful career, and entrepreneurs need to hire staff that are adaptable. Additionally, we should support capital markets, making it easier for investors to invest in businesses cross-borders, and for start-ups to get more cross-border funding opportunities.
Let’s not stop here. Let’s continue debating and finding the right solutions for start-ups and SMEs. What more do you think can be done to support start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs trade cross-border? Join the discussion in LinkedIn Group or tell the Commission what you think.
More photos from the event on Flickr.
At Expo Milano 2015, TEDx Binnehof 2016 launched its search for the most inspiring entrepreneurs and world changing ideas. The 2015 SME Assembly, taking place in Luxembourg on 18-20 November, will also be part of this search for ideas worth spreading. During the SME Assembly, entrepreneurs from all 28 EU Member States will pitch their ideas. Ten entrepreneurs will be selected to present their ideas at TEDx Binnenhof 2016 “Made in Europe” in The Hague.
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #TEDxB16 and #MadeInEU
The ‘PME Excelência’ (SME Excellence) is a recognition of excellence created by the IAPMEI (the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation), in partnership with ‘Turismo de Portugal’ and a group of nine banks, aiming to reward the best entrepreneurial performances within the different sectors of activity. It distinguishes the SMEs that are drivers of the national economy, enhancing their visibility and publicly recognising them.
In line with the ‘Think Small First – a Small Business Act for Europe’ (an instrument of EU 2020), the PME Excelência initiative has honoured 1,845 SMEs (67% more than 2013).
According to Professor Miguel Cruz, the President of IAPMEI, this increase stems mainly from the performance of Portuguese SMEs, in which their growing innovative capacity and market diversification reflect higher levels of competitiveness and internationalisation.
The increase in the number of ‘PME Excelência’ also reveals a strong involvement of the banking sector, enhancing the value and importance of this prize in recognising the quality and soundness of the companies awarded.
Most (60%) ‘excellent’ SMEs are exporters and they employ 38 staff on average. Most are located in the districts of Porto, Lisbon, Aveiro and Braga. These SMEs are mainly from the industrial sector (36%) but also from the commercial (29%) and tourism sectors (13%), among others.
According to Aquiles de Barros, President of the Board of Directors of Castelbel, a manufacturer of fine toiletry soaps and one of the companies that received a prize, the company reached ‘the best results ever’ in 2013, and the unit established at Castelo da Maia had an ‘unforeseen’ invoicing turnover in 2014. Sales increased by 40%: from €3.8 million to €5.3 million. Their expectation was to reach €4 million.
Apart from the need of enlarging its premises, Castelbel had to reinforce the number of staff by 50%, from 76 at the end of 2013 to 114, by the end of last year. The number is impressive when compared with the 9 employees hired when the company first launched in 1999.
I started Ekapici because I love e-commerce. We are currently the only online takeaway ordering service in Turkey that delivers orders in 30 minutes and that has low minimum delivery costs. We save people time and money. We have just secured investment to expand in İzmir, and we hope to set up franchises in Ankara and Istanbul within the next three years.
If I were in charge of start ups and SMEs, I would ensure that they had access to decent investment so they could make their dreams happen.
“Entrepreneurs like me are important to society because we innovate; we help construct the national economy and create a broad vision for our country.”
Hero(es): Hakan Bas
Start up capital: Family and bank
Growth rate p.a: 100%
Can you code?: No
Education / Training: Mechanical Engineering
Product / Service: Online takeaway services
We originally set up RETTRO to provide complex IT services to large companies. With the help of ESF and JAPTI research funding, we have since diversified into developing web-based products and services applicable for mobile devices. RETTRO’s latest product is a mobile application called Notiﬂy. Notiﬂy is a revolutionary new system of conveying content through sound code, undetectable by a human ear. FLY messages are broadcast by TV and radio stations, event and concert managers, organisations, restaurants, shops etc. to consumers who want additional information related to the programme they are watching; the shows they are attending; the shops they are visiting. Looking ahead, the challenges for RETTRO are to continue to create new innovative products and access new markets.
Start ups and small firms in general would most benefit from a tax regime that encourages investment in R&D and from more ﬂexible employment rules.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create jobs, develop the economy, bring new ideas, discover new businesses and boost the local community.”
Hero(es): Honest and fair people
Start up capital: Savings and ESF/JAPTI investment
Growth rate p.a: 33%
Can you code? Yes
Education / Training: Mathematics
Product / Service: Marketing/retail applications
I started Datamolino because I wanted small businesses to have the same access to technology as large ones. Datamolino is a platform for accountants, that processes invoices and receipts sent in any format and exports the extracted data into any accounting software thereby saving time and money. The growth potential for our platform is huge with some 16 billion ‘unstructured’ invoices in Europe alone. We benefited hugely from being part of Telefonica’s Wayra acceleration programme that helped us get to market quickly and gave us access to a large customer base.
That ecosystem of entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce and investors are essential to the growth of the economy and government needs to ensure that all the conditions are in place for such ecosystems to thrive.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we drive innovation, creating products that add value through material benefits, savings or unique experiences.”
Hero(es): Nelson Mandela
Start up capital: Investors and acceleration programme (Wayra)
Can you code? No
Education / Training: Lawyer
Product / Service: Accountancy software