MY-WAY, the two-year project which set out to improve the startup ecosystem for students in Europe, just released a research study based on its recent online survey for young adults and on face-to-face interviews with student support centres. The survey and interviews were implemented to identify the needs and capabilities of the student networks and young adults across Europe regarding web entrepreneurship. Based on the survey results and with a better understanding of the current gaps and problems, MY-WAY will develop a new service scheme for student networks and student entrepreneurship centres to support young tech entrepreneurs. The two target groups for this research study were: 1.) Students or recent graduates, young researchers and university alumni members that are interested in web entrepreneurship. This target group has been reached via an online survey which has received responses from 342 young adults throughout 21 European countries. 2.) Student support centres and universities (entrepreneurship support centres) in 4 countries. This target group has been reached via face-to-face interviews. Here are some of the key findings of the online survey:
- Among the respondents who identified themselves as entrepreneurs, friends & family were with 61% the most common source of support and funding that has been mentioned.
- For the majority of (aspiring) entrepreneurs, it would be helpful if their student network/association could help with first steps (95% believe so).
- 50% of those respondents who are already entrepreneurs have received mentoring support, 38% have received networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs. 35% are receiving financial support.
- 56% of the entrepreneurs described themselves as innovative, followed by flexible (49%) and responsible (47%). Interestingly, only 22% of web entrepreneurs describe themselves as having adequate tech skills.
- 66% respondents believe the most important thing in determining whether they will become web entrepreneurs or not is a good idea, followed by a good team (64%). Tech talent is cited by only 26% of respondents.
- 94% stated that the internet is their most important source of information on entrepreneurship support. This is followed by family/friends (41% respondents) and university / college (36%).
- 64% of the respondents would seek funding through business angels, 53% through venture capitalists, 46% through own resources, 40% through family/friends, 31% through EU institutions, 26% through banks. Only 3% stated that they do not need an investment.
- 57% of respondents claim that their university/city has a network of entrepreneurs.
- A majority of respondents (71%) believe there is not enough information about web entrepreneurship initiatives in their country/city.
- 59% of respondents are aware of investors, startup incubators or accelerator programs in their country/city, while 41% are not aware of any investors, startup incubators or accelerators in their city or country.
- 77% of respondents believe confidence is a necessary skill to become a web entrepreneur, followed by flexibility (71%) and positive thinking (63%).
- Access to funding is considered essential for an enterprise to scale its activities according to 73% of respondents. 71% of respondents consider access to network and contacts essential, 56% believe it is advice and mentoring.
- In order to build their own enterprise, respondents would like to receive financial support (75%), mentoring support (71%), networking opportunities (57%).
The survey confirms that financial support is one of the main challenges when it comes to web entrepreneurship. However, most respondents who are already entrepreneurs are receiving funding from family/friends rather than other sources. One of the needs highlighted by young (aspiring) entrepreneurs is direct contact with successful entrepreneurs, through consultations and mentoring. There also seems to be a lack of coherent information on how to become a web entrepreneur and where to get funding, which is why most of the respondents turn to the internet. There should be more information on web entrepreneurship within the local communities and at universities. This could make it easier for young people to start their entrepreneurial journey. It is also important for aspiring entrepreneurs to have a direct contact at the local level with people who could mentor/advise them, whether they are entrepreneurs, guidance counsellors at their universities or others. Key findings of the interviews with student support centres: AEGEE – European Students’ Forum – managed to conduct interviews with leading student support centres from Europe to understand their needs and capabilities. During the interviews, the student support centres highlighted their capability to offer services related to coaching and training, financial and legal consulting and networking as well as the provision of working spaces. In regard to their needs, the student support centres expressed their strong need for more connections and synergies among them that could help the improvement of their services for young adults. Most of the interviewees believe that the young (aspiring) entrepreneurs need financial resources and access to financing, as well as guidance and networking. This confirms once again the results of the MY-WAY online survey.