The crowd jeered but the stark reality of it all is unavoidable. And the fact that the panelists on stage, all either American or living in America, suggested that you can somehow succeed with a startup while maintaining a healthy work-life balance is unfortunate. Too many people choose to be entrepreneurs as a lifestyle, without realizing that it takes everything you have and more to win. And if you aren’t in it to win, why not just take that nice job down the street that gives you five weeks of vacation.
Two hour lunches are great. But when you have investors to answer to and employees (and their families) to provide for, something has to give. Perhaps that’s why many of Europe’s hardest charging and most successful entrepreneurs tend to move to Silicon Valley, where they are surrounded by like minded people.
The panelists would have better served the audience by urging them to help shift European culture to be more supportive of their entrepreneurs. These people need a fighting chance to survive, and just telling them what they want to hear isn’t helpful. Joie de vivre is fine once you’ve sold that startup and have a summer house in the south of France. In the meantime, get to work. Le Web needs more Europeans on stage next year, and it just may be you up there telling the world how you overcame European culture and grew a successful company.