The 12 Entrepreneurs, an unusual movement made up of start-up leaders, government representatives and service providers from Europe and the US, launched officially recently at the PlugandPlay Center in Sunnyvale with the goal of developing a new model for funding and supporting startups. Here is the interview: Founders of the group, Roman Tolic of Austria- based Hercules Film Network, and Emmanuel Carraud of MagicSolver of the UK, formed the organization with the purpose of building bridges between the centers of innovation around the world, finance visionary projects and create jobs in the US and Europe. While the initial group is made of the “founding 12,” Carraud said, “Membership is open to anyone who is interested in the potential of building a bridge between Europe and Silicon Valley.”
“The 12 Entrepreneurs do not represent any single organization, but rather an ideal of inter-supportive entrepreneurship for the coming decade,” Tolic explained. “The 12 want to make the world a better place for entrepreneurs everywhere.”
Speakers at the event included Saeed Amidi, founder of PlugandPlay, and Ida Rose Sylvester, managing partner at Silicon Valley Link, both of whom highlighted the innovation potential in Europe and the struggle to bring a successful and cohesive approach to supporting startups on a pan-European basis. Sylvester pointed out that while there are literally hundreds of organizations in the Silicon Valley representing separate regional development agencies, until now, there has never been a concentrated effort to support all of Europe.
After the speakers concluded, Tolic announced that the Belgian government and the Vienna IT Enterprises have made formal financial commitments to the movement.
A highlight of the event was the signing of a manifesto outlining the group’s goals and purposes. Signers included entrepreneurs and government representatives from Austria, France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, Portugal, Norwey, Italy, Czech Republic, Centrope Region (encompassing Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary), Sweden, and the US
Following the presentations, group members and the audience of more than 40 interested parties began a brainstorming session on what the next steps for the organization should be, including:
- Expanded and financed access to resource partners
- Open networking opportunities
- Creative funding approaches
- Crowdsourcing to resolve manpower issues
- Co-innovation to roll up potential competitor into stronger companies
- Encouraging investors to get in for the longer term
- Find better customers and make those customer better
- Open university workshops in entrepreneurialism
Tolic and Carraud have left for Europe to attend to the businesses but also to meet formally with the European Commission, government leaders and business organizations that have expressed interest in supporting the organization. In the US, the movement will be led by Prasad K. R. an angel investor for mobile software companies; Carles Cabret, a business development associate for the Spanish incubator Inspirit, and Lou Covey, a Silicon Valley communications strategist.