Alex Vieux, founder and CEO of Red Herring, has urged European entrepreneurs to seek investment and clients outside the continent – while praising the resilience of the European tech industry.
Vieux, speaking at the Red Herring Top 100 Europe event in Amsterdam, said that the continent is “at an inflection point,” citing an increased amount of M&A activity in 2014. Since January 1st, $65.2 billion has been invested. “This is a huge amount of change for the industry,” he said.
Vieux expects that figure to grow to around $200 billion by the end of the year, which would make it the largest transaction year in the technology sector’s history. “We were born at a time when technology was a sector of the economy,” said Vieux. “Now tech is the economy.”
Vieux pointed to an increase of $100,000 in the size of companies under five years old – from $10.1m in 2012 to $10.2 million last year – as evidence that entrepreneurs worldwide are getting “increasingly proactive.”
But despite positive signs in Europe, Vieux urged attendees to “go west” early in the company life cycle. Increased venture capital in the U.S. and Asia is a major factor. But the emergence of markets such as Turkey, Russia, Israel and Nigeria – which this week became the first African economy to overtake South Africa – are big reasons to diversify away from Europe.
“You must be far more creative in your sales projects,” said Vieux. “Entrepreneurs will make it, if (Europe) may not,” he added. “You cannot afford to be solely European. If I have one message today: go west.”
The Red Herring Top 100 Europe continues at the Mövenpick Hotel in Amsterdam until Wednesday. For more details visit the event website.