Episode 38- Strengthening the European startup/investing ecosystem through community, knowledge sharing and connections with Ben Costantini of Startup Sesame

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Terri talks to Ben Costantini about how Startup Sesame events are designed to help founders identify the best events to build their businesses and ultimately strengthen the European startup/investing ecosystem through community, knowledge sharing and connections.

Who is Ben Costantini?

Ben Costantini runs Startup Sesame, the largest alliance of Tech events in Europe and Connectors, an innovation studio specialized in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ben is also the curator of Symposium Stockholm, the festival of ideas founded by Daniel Ek and Ash Pournouri. Ben has more than ten years of experience in conference organization, and has one of the most extensive and trusted networks of event founders in the world. He is an expert in the creative industries and advises entrepreneurs and investors in early and growth stages.  He was a Global Entertainment and Music Business instructor at the Valencia Campus of Berklee College of Music and the co-founder of the school’s student-run label, Disrupción Records.


Show Highlights

  • Ben talks about Startup Sesame; there are 30 partner events and right now they are accepting applications for the 2018 cohort of startups with applications due by 3/1 to participate in the one-year program.

  • Startup Sesame curates events to help startup founders identify the best events to attend to help build their businesses and to strengthen the European startup/investing ecosystem.

  • Terri’s favorite startup event is Slush in Helsinki because of the content and the events that encourage connecting.

  • What is Startup Sesame’s criteria for adding new event partners?   

  • Is it a startup event?  

  • Does it provide a strong startup offering?  

  • Is it happening at the same time as an existing partner event?

  • Is it happening in the same city where there is an existing partner event?  

  • Ben sees positive activity in startups, investing, and regulations in Europe to make innovation easier. There are now entrepreneurial and technical classes in school for kids.   Innovation doesn’t only happen in Silicon Valley.

Ben Costantini of Startup Sesame sees positive activity in startups, investing, and regulations in Europe to make innovation easier.  Innovation doesn’t only happen in Silicon Valley. @PilotingLife  Click to Tweet
  • One of the challenges in Europe is around funding.  There’s early stage money and later stage money but there’s a gap in the middle.   

  • Another challenge is around regulation and politics.  The European startup cities are competing rather than focusing on a pan-European market or a digital single market.   

  • Terri asked about whether GDPR is going to be helpful for European startups or a barrier to entry.  Per Ben, bigger companies are going to have an advantage because they can hire more people to comply with GDPR.  This will be harder for smaller companies and will have a negative impact on innovation.  This will provide opportunities for innovation in helping companies comply with GDPR.  There’s a great opportunity in copywriting in Europe for innovation.   

  • Terri talks about hoping to see a right-sizing of the need to meet the GDPR regulations.  

  • Anyone who wants to meet up with Startup Sesame or Ben at 4YFN in Barcelona, they will be there Feb 26th through March 1st 2018.   

  • Startup Sesame will be reviewing applications and narrowing down to 30 candidates to identify the final startups for the 2018 program. The winners will be attending a retreat in Valencia, Spain at the end of March to meet each other and the Startup Sesame community.   

  • Valencia, Spain has a robust startup scene with over 100 startups, there are 30 investment funds and 40 co-working spaces.   

  • If Ben could wave a magic wand, he would make information and knowledge available to everyone, everywhere because a lot of struggles and wars occur because information is not readily available.   


Terri’s Key Takeaway

Innovation happens at the fringe; not at the center


References in the Podcast

  • Startup Sesame: https://www.startupsesame.com/

  • GDPR:  https://www.eugdpr.org/

  • 4YFN: https://www.4yfn.com/

  • Slush: http://www.slush.org/

  • Mobile World Congress: https://www.mobileworldcongress.com/

  • Station F: https://stationf.co/

  • theCamp:  https://thecamp.fr/



Ben can be reached at ben@startupsesame.com.

You can follow Terri on Twitter at @terrihansonmead or go to her website at www.terrihansonmead.com or on Medium:  https://medium.com/@terrihansonmead. 

Feel free to email Terri at PilotingYourLife@gmail.com.

To continue the conversation, go to Twitter at @PilotingLife and use hashtag #PilotingYourLife.