Last Wednesday, December 11, the ESIL final conference took place in Brussels. Over the last few years, this European initiative has reinforced the early stage investment ecosystem by empowering the community of investors and crowdfunders who are committed to a more innovative Europe.
Local Leaders from each country, representatives of the European Commission and other stakeholders gathered in Brussels to reflect on the challenges faced, the lessons learned, share best practices and examine the future outlook for early stage investors in Europe.
Over the last 2 years, ESIL developed 31 local plans covering 36 countries, tailor-made programmes to boost the local investment capacity of each country. Participants gained access to a pan-European online community, a digital academy with tips and trainings from experts and webinars focused on angel investing.
Combining all these ingredients has resulted in a recipe for success: the first business networks in Malta, Armenia and Romania were established thanks to the Early Stage Investing Launchpad; the Georgian local leader signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Georgian government on angel investing and the Cyprus local leader advised his government on angel investment strategies based on lessons learned from ESIL Study Visits. We also know about a Slovenian woman who was inspired to become an angel investor after attending one of the ESIL events; and some startups like TeiaCare that secured funding after participating in the monthly ESIL e-pitches, which attracted a large audience of European investors.
These facts showcase how ESIL has made a real impact on the angel investing community in Europe overall. The statements of the participants themselves also indicate that we are on the right track. “The value of networking was invaluable,” said Paul Waltzing, Local Leader for Malta.
“ESIL encouraged us to move outside our own comfort zone. This is an area that’s growing, it’s developing all the time, and ESIL was there to provide a framework for networking with angels from other countries,” said Teresa Valente, Local Leader for Portugal.
The Local Leader for the French speaking part in Belgium, Claire Munck, reinforced this reflection: “We think we all speak different languages but we don’t. The most important barrier that ESIL has addressed is building a common understanding between early stage investors across Europe.”
“ESIL relies a lot on people, the experience of angels, but also on our Archangels,” said Paul Waltzing. A small group of experienced investors, pioneer business angels, have dedicated themselves to sharing their knowledge. “A Business Angel is not only investing money, you also have to monitor and coach the startups. In all countries it is important to develop the skills of investors locally,” said Archangel Philippe Gluntz, honorary president of Business Angels Europe.
The support of local investors is important but often not enough. “To expand the skills of the startup, they have to go abroad,” said Phillipe. In that way, “ESIL has put together some tools to facilitate that cross border investment could happen and more efficiently,” claimed Claire Munck, and mentioned the case of Citibeats, an Spanish startup that closed a €1.4M round after participating in a investor pitch event in Munich.
The conference showed that something is brewing, but there is still much to do, and it must be done fast. “We need speed!” claimed Andrea Di Anselmo, VP of META Group in his concluding speech.
Written by Pablo Munilla for the Early Stage Investing Launchpad