Everyone's trying to figure out who the next big European Entrepreneur will be

Jan 14, 2013
Vote on Hacker News

Golden GlobesWhat’s the deal with trying to identify the “next big entrepreneur” in Europe? Perhaps we’ve gotten tired of looking for the next big idea, and now it’s time to identify the next big entrepreneur. Award ceremonies for startups have always lived up to the Golden Globe-like atmosphere they try to give off, in that everyone secretly knows that the awards don’t mean a thing, and yet we nonetheless want our favorite startup (or ourselves) to win this meaningless award.

The Europas – it’s like The Crunchies, and all the glory that goes with that comparison

The Europas, recently handed off to the Web Summit gang, has been pushing to not only award the top European startups, founders & VCs, but has been pushing regional awards as well, having announced the shortlists for awards for best startup in France, Russia, the UK, and pretty much everywhere in Europe. While the event promises to live up to the standards of SV’s The Crunchies, as well as to the reputation of the previous editions of The Europas, I can’t help but point out that neither of those two things carries any real value.

MIT – they also kill time…

At the same time as The Europas looks to define Europe’s next big startups and entprenreurs,, MIT is doing its 2nd annual TR35 event, which also includes a regional look for inspiring Entrepreneurs under 35 – the French site is here, with all its too-confusing-to-find-how-to-nominate-people beauty. The nominations close today, and I’m not too sure how representative any nomination will be of the ecosystem, given that I only found out about it last week, thanks to a tweet or two that seemed borderline sponsored.

The Europioneers – the last entrepre-frontier

Lastly, the European Commission and TheNextWeb have teamed up to bring the Europioneers, “an initiative to celebrate Europe’s finest technology entrepreneurs.” It sounds like a nice idea – the EC has certainly been doing a lot of consideration on how it can support the ecosystem – but is an award show organized by a government body really the solution? You can nominate your favorite European Tech Entrepreneur for the Europioneers through February 14th.

Do entrepreneurs really need awards?

I find myself asking this question often. Given the amount of time we spend writing, watching, analyzing  predicting, investing, chewing out, supporting, hating, loving, hating again, and finally saying we knew they would make it all along, do entrepreneurs really need “best travel/wine startup” awards to help the rest of us follow the vast scene in Europe?

I’ve often argued that there aren’t enough startups in France that we need a local accelerator – that isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of startups, there are, it’s just that what French startups need is hands-on mentoring and someone to say “hurry the fuck up,” not free office space & PR. I feel oddly similar about startup award ceremonies. While I will always root for my favorite startup to win, especially a French startup, I have to ask myself: am I wasting my time or that of the nominated startups? Even worse, am I misleading my readers to thinking that these startups are the most important ones to watch?