• Read More
    Introduction: The New Global Opportunity
  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More
    Dragon Inside
  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More
    Sound Diplomacy
  • Read More
    Tech Will Save Us
  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More
    Conclusion: Facilitating Access to the Global Marketplace

Salon Forums in Brussels, Berlin, London and Paris

The Global Innovation Forum hosted salon dinners in Berlin, London and Paris, and a lunch in Brussels, using the report release  as an opportunity to convene a broader set of stakeholders, including globally-minded entrepreneurs, Members of national parliaments and the EU Parliament, EU Commission and national government officials, corporations and startup community partners for small-group discussions about the potential and challenges of global markets.  GIF partnered with organizations including the German Startups Association, Coadec, TechUK, Afdel and TheFamily to identify entrepreneurs from across Europe to tell their global stories, and to discuss the public policy foundations that underlie their ability to access global markets.


In Brussels, for the official report launch, GIF partnered with, and Allied for Startups to host a discussion with The Honorable Kaja Kallas, MEP, Member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, Johanna Pangestian Harahap, Co-Founder, Nauli (Germany), Justo Hidalgo, Co-Founder, 24symbols (Spain), Bart Van der Roost, Founder and CEO, neoScores (Belgium) and Leen Segers, Chief Operating Officer at Speaking about prospects for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Ms. Kallas suggested that, “we have a lot to gain from international markets. I’m generally of the opinion that this is good for European startups…It’s all about taking down barriers.”


techUK and Coadec hosted a UK report launch at a salon dinner at the Hoxton with a number of leading start-ups, policy-makers and academics.  Commenting on the launch of the report in London, Antony Walker, Deputy CEO of techUK said, “This highlights the breadth of innovation and entrepreneurship in tech that is happening right across the EU – from Limerick to Berlin, London to Barcalona, European start-ups have to think global from day 1.”


In Paris, GIF partnered with TheFamily and Afdel to convene innovators including the cofounder of Azendoo, which simplifies the way teams work together, the founder of Videdressing, a leading community for fashonistas to buy and sell clothes and accessories, Taro Ugen, the manager of Bpifrance’s Corporate Hub team, and Laure de la Raudière, member of the French National Assembly, where she represents the Eure-et-Loir department, Roxanne Varza, startup lead at Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Paris and Clara Deletraz, cofounder of the French Tech initiative.

From the Report —
Entrepreneurs identify obstacles to going global

Global markets bring challenges as well as opportunities. Entrepreneurs have to operate on the same playing field as major multinational corporations but with dramatically fewer resources.

In many cases, companies do not have dedicated compliance personnel or a full time general counsel. As a result, often mundane issues like customs classification quickly rise to founder level.

Here is a selection of what’s top of mind for these globally-minded startups –

Customs & VAT

“Look, I do see a lot of positives coming out of the European single market, but I have to have twenty-plus different VAT numbers to operate correctly in the EU. That’s not how it should be.” – neoScores

“Navigating customs is a minefield of complexity. We sent a huge shipment to our first big retail account in the United States and it gets stuck in customs because the customs code changed the day before. That’s just another thing that a small business doesn’t need to deal with. And that’s just one territory.” – Technology Will Save Us

Complying with foreign regulations

“Getting the legal side right is complicated. We think that laws were generally made for big companies, not small ones like ours. For sure it makes us insecure, but we’re lucky that our business is advanced to the point where we can deal with the complexities we face.” – Nauli

“Our business deals with electronics and education. Those two things married create a whole collection of challenges, particularly the regulations around electronics which in some cases require global certifications. How do we navigate those regulations to make sure we are always on top of the certifications that we need to have in order to be compliant? It’s really complex.” – Sound Diplomacy

“International taxation and pricing are some of the most interesting but challenging parts of 24symbols. We are a startup in soul and size, but our breadth and size make us look like a multinational. It’s amazing when we make it work.” – 24symbols

Culture and language

“Cultural and language differences, that also affect the books that are required in each region is an important pain point.” – 24symbols

“There are added layers of complexity – language, culture, currency, payment methods. Also, the timelines of doing business are completely different depending on where you are. Quickly means something different in the United States versus Europe versus India.” – Unbabel

“Ferragosto! The Italian suppliers we rely on are closed for the month of August.” – Dragon Inside

The global Internet

Because of the challenges accessing global websites in China, “most native speakers who translate Mandarin for us don’t live in China. This has a huge impact on our ability to staff and meet demand for our services…..It’s really important for the Internet to be open to everyone and accessible at the same speed, regardless of where our servers are.” – Unbabel

“Without an open global Internet, it just wouldn’t be possible. It allows us to scale quicker, rather than setting up regional offices in different territories. We’re able to keep our team lean and still operate in foreign markets.” – Technology Will Save Us

Intellectual property rights & channels for legal content

“We have to be very careful that we don’t sell a German consumer buying on a French website the wrong content.” – neoScores

“Music, by definition, is almost always global. We rely on the fact that it should be possible for anybody to access content. Let’s say you live in Peru and you want to access French music. How can you do that? Before you couldn’t. So we need to make sure people can access the Internet.” – neoScores

Payments and currency

“We’re quite at risk to foreign exchange issues. We get paid in 5 different currencies every month. We get paid in the currency in which we invoice, and then we do the trading ourselves to make sure we have the money to pay our bills.” – Sound Diplomacy

Industry maturity

“The maker movement is really important to us and the community that we served from the beginning. It is much more mature in the United States than the UK. However, we are based in the UK and we want to grow a business in the UK. We like being in East London. How do we navigate that real opportunity in the United States from a sales perspective with a desire to create real impact in the place we started and where we see a real need?” – Technology Will Save Us

“We’re part of a debate that doesn’t exist. There are very few people talking to government from a music industry perspective except for copyright protection. We’re about industry development and education and skills. It takes a while to get our point across to governments and stakeholders who aren’t used to hearing from us.” – Sound Diplomacy


“My two biggest challenges are dealing with different time zones and scaling in different markets at the same time with the same team.” –

“Time zone differences sometimes make it more challenging to provide timely custom service, which has always been our primary focus.” – Dragon Inside