How different countries motivate local entrepreneurs [NES 2014 panel]



This is a part of our coverage of the Japan New Economy Summit 2014. You can follow our updates on Twitter as well at @thebridge_e.

Day two of the New Economy Summit in Tokyo included a panel about how governments in the Middle East and European regions motivate local entrepreneurs. Speakers included:

  • David Heller, managing partner of Vertex Venture Capital
  • Talmon Marco, CEO of Viber
  • Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle at Rovio Entertainment
  • Chris Wade, venture capital advisor of UK Trade and Investment

Heller kicked off the panel describing how his company has evolved the local startup scene in Israel. Since its launch back in 1997, Vertex has invested in 108 companies, and over 30 went on to an exit. The most recent was Waze, a community-based, real-time traffic and navigation app, acquired by Google last year. He emphasized that one of the most interesting things about the Israeli startup ecosystem is the amount of VC investment per person is much higher than that of any other developed country.

David Heller
David Heller

Marco then introduced himself by encouraging the audience to call Viber a Japanese company, since they were acquired by Japan’s Rakuten earlier this year. Despite the fact that they started business in Belarus and then moved on to London, they have an especially large user base in South East Asia, especially in Myanmar and the Philippines. His advice for Japanese entrepreneurs? You need to encourage your employees to respect individualism and think out of box.

Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka explained that his company initially started out as a gaming company, but is now focused on three Es: entertainment, education, and entrepreneurship. As part of these efforts, they have been involved in organizing Finland’s largest tech conference Slush [1]. He encouraged Japanese entrepreneurs in the audience to create global success stories, pointing out that Tokyo alone has a larger population than all of Finland. He says startups have to stand out and differentiate from others, and that his company respects the diversity of employees. After launching an office here in Tokyo, they hope to be more Japanese than Japanese people, he says.

UKTI’s Chris Wade explained that his organization has been helping to grow the local startup community in East London by eliminating obstacles for entrepreneurs who are launching a company, providing them with the necessary mentorship. He says the UK government has also deployed several measures to accelerate entrepreneurship, including tax incentives for seed investments and issuing an entrepreneur visa to helps startups more easily hire talented people from outside the country.

He noted that every entrepreneur has to fail fast and keep trying. That’s the must-have mindset not only for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but for people all over the world who are keen to launch a business.

Peter Vesterbacka, Chris Wade
Peter Vesterbacka, Chris Wade

  1. Update: We’re told the largest tech conference in Eurasia, in fact.  ↩