It is time we aim higher with our companies. When an entrepreneur is going to give 10 or 20 years of their life to a venture, why not go for world class? The first generation of success stories is already here. Now we need to take it to the next level and realise the full potential of our education, knowledge and experience. There is no reason why the next generation of Big Tech unicorns could not be born in Europe.
Entrepreneurs, investors and advisors have lessons to learn. We need to aim higher with our companies, we need to aim higher as individuals. We need to work with first class partners and do it faster and smarter. Let’s take a look at what the best are doing. The best never settle with standard or normal practices. The next level requires something more.
We need more ambitious R&D to create patented technologies and trade secrets to conquer new markets in new industries. Every start-up should aim to become a monopoly in its field. After all that is what patents are – temporary monopolies. We need both entrepreneurial instinct and speed to spot the opportunities that are gaining global momentum in the new industries. It is not a shame to win the execution game in a competition by copying the early entrants and scaling faster than the rest. After all, that is what market economy is all about.
We need entrepreneurs with great self-confidence who reserve super-voting stocks for themselves to maintain the control of their company. We need investors who buy secondaries from founders so that entrepreneurs receive a few millions for themselves and after that are ready to take risk on a next level. Entrepreneurs get the appetite for big risks only when they have secured their basic material needs and have their personal financial independence secured.
We need less trade sale exits to foreign (continent) companies and more IPOs to local stock exchanges or straight to world’s biggest exchanges. The best companies need to aim for direct listings and long-term domestic ownership in our companies. Once our best companies are listed and their ownership and control are cemented with domestic ownership they are in the position not to get bought but to buy out competition themselves.
VC business works only half way if none of the portfolio companies are going to get listed. We should not think of an IPO as an exit but as a financing round. Our bankers should mature with their thinking and stop selling our companies abroad. Instead they should help our companies conquer the world, buy out foreign competition and help to finance that journey. Entrepreneurship is ownership and ownership is wealth. On a national level only accumulating wealth secures freedom.
Every (entrepreneur) generation has a calling to top the achievements of its predecessors. We are ready to see the birth of the next decacorn becoming listed and in control of its founders and its ownership anchored with our compatriots. We live in a market economy that does not work without capitalists. Let’s get comfortable being capitalists. Let’s write the rules of future industries and let others read them.
The pace of technological change is only getting faster. We need to establish companies in nascent fields and maximize our ownership share of the new future industries. Investors of every size need to go long on the future industries and short on yesterday’s assets. Funds have to be invested to the people of the future and not to the people of the past. New-borns will always take the place of elderly, the sooner the better.
It is Europe’s turn to give birth to future industries, control the new big tech, profit from tomorrow’s business models and decide on our own future. Let’s own the future!
Written by Kalle Öhman (Venture Partner at Voima Ventures)