Tim Cook, Neelie Kroes, Prince Constantijn, Eric Schmidt, Travis Kalanick: Startup Fest Europe kicked off with some heavy hitters.
The Apple CEO made a brave statement on current affairs: "If you are a young entrepreneur, you are no longer selling in your own street. You are selling to the world, so you have to understand different cultural nuances. Therefore immigration becomes important – you got to have a country that embraces diversity", he said when having a chat with Neelie Kroes.
"I feel a vibe here in The Netherlands that I haven’t felt in a long time, a positive vibe that the future is better than the past. I sense a great future for Europe, if some barriers are taken away", Cook said about the startup climate here.
Eric Schmidt of Alphabet also talked about those barriers: "It’s too difficult to start and scale-up a company in Europe, mainly due to government policies", pointing to the "gazillion" rules. "Governments say they will adapt legislation, but most of them don’t." And: "We hire loads of Europeans, because there are too little startups here."
Mattias Ljungman of VC-firm Atomico thought otherwise: "2015 was a record year for Europe. There is a healthy ecosystem here". Prime minister Rutte replied in his key note that the EU should press towards a single EU-startup agenda.
Travis Kalanick of Uber chose inspiration over talking, with a keynote on how Uber got big – from a true entrepreneur’s perspective: his ‘geek guide’ of how you can do it too. "Find something that is broken and make an amazing solution."