Entrepreneurs should not be dragged into drag along situations

Tina Baker has an awful cold, Par-Jorgen Parson doesn’t but Northzone backed Spodify, Falk Mueller-Verserse doesn’t seem to have one either, Bernard-Louis Roques is from Truffle Capital, Paul Cuatrecasas is from Aquaa partners and the whole thing is being moderated by Jeff Coe, a guy from Linden Ventures, a Brit who looks like he’d be happier down the pub.

There is still, surprisingly, quite a number  of VCs prepared to back small startups, or at least that’s what they’re saying. Parson said the music industry was littered with dead corpses but the two Swedes who started it were thinking of building a billion dollar company from the start. They were cautious about investors and wanted to choose the right investor. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? But he said European VCs don’t always concentrate on the right thing.

Cuatrecacas said he doesn’t spend a lot of time with VCs these days. Starting a business is very hard work with lots of tears, and most companies he’s sold have had ups and down several times, and it’s not restricted just to European or American companies. It’s important to get feedback from not just your customers but your staff too.

Europeans, said Veerse, make better technology than Americans. He said he finds much more substantial technology from European companies.

Tina Baker, a lawyer from Brown Rudnick and American, wants to say something about this, but she will have her chance in a few minutes, I have no doubt whatever about that. Did I say that there’s a civil servant from UK Trade & Investment here? I don’t think she likes the press.

Coe said he has seen a lot of Germans in Brazil and China.

Baker said she had noticed American VCs didn’t want to invest in European startups. She said she thinks there aren’t enough players in Europe to buy all the companies that are starting. The differences between the countries means it’s very difficult for Americans to understand the small countries all speaking different languages and it has been hard for people to cross borders.

Brooklyn-born Tina Baker said it was very important for entrepeneurs not to be “dragged along”, drag along only happens when the company is down the tube and it’s a bar sale.

Cuatrecasas said that market conditions are fragile out there, and have been since 2008. There’s no reason why an economic collapse can’t happen again. If you’re going to do something, he said, you should do that in the next year and a half.

VCs won’t even open the door to companies in the solar PV business,  said Mueller-Veerse. The lack of funding is still a big problem in Europe. Investors want companies to be profitable but also say companies are not growing fast enough. VCs, eh? Investors don’t have the pockets required to follow things through.

I’d have liked the panel to talk more about the total lack of confidence everyone seems to be suffering from these days. Cuatrecasas alluded to it. But there probably isn’t enough time, the session is running out of time.