Juri Kaljundi, a passionate ICT entrepreneur based in Tallinn, sent me (and Steve) a few questions before his presentation at the Techcrunch meeting in Stockholm. Unfortunately I was too busy to answer them in time and so now I’m taking this opportunity to comment on the summary at his personal blog.
I still remember very well Juri coming to Brno before his CV-online international roll-out and then his introductory speech at one of our very first First Tuesday Prague meetings. Now he is providing a very good insight of the Baltics we can compare with our Centrope region.
That makes it quite hard for smart people to realise their dreams in our countries, just because of size.
Our total population for four countries (Centrope) includes about 24m people, which is more than Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, but still significantly lower than the population of a single large European country. Similarly with GDP and different languages (except for the Austrians, who have no language barrier in Germany).
This is the advantage of the Baltics and Central & Eastern Europe: having IT people and software developers with strong creative skills, coming up with new solutions, innovating. You define the problem or goal – our people find new or uncharted ways to solve them. That’s the key difference with for example many Asian outsourced software developers, where quite often you have to very clearly tell them, how to solve the problem. This is no selling of programming hours.
Indeed. This is something I often hear from international companies setting up their centers in Brno or Prague and not (only) in India for example.
And going outside is hard, very hard – especially if you have no sales and marketing culture (in addition to no existing contacts) to do that. East/West partnership from almost day one, both local developers and Western (or Israeli) managers shareholders from very early stage — this has been the model to most success stories in our region: Skype, Playtech, Indextools, various others.
I would add Roman Stanek’s Netbeans, Systinet or GoodData — his current business child. On the other hand let’s face reality. It is not a typical model that Czech startups have the world/US/European market in mind or that they join forces on a shareholder level (not a local startup just hiring a US business developer etc) from day one.
What can be done to have more internationally minded startups in our regions?