Learning Incrementally from Failed Entrepreneurship
The LIFE project is about learning step by step from failure in entrepreneurship. It also aims at collaborative action to bring entrepreneurship forward. Cultural diversity is one of Europe’s strongest assets, yet it also creates obstacles for entrepreneurs to scale at European level. Distributed markets, language barriers and fragmented policy still impede access to markets, talents, finance, facilities and networks in Europe.
The project aimed to map out programs and important players in each of the partnering areas. The consortium identified, shared and discussed best practices. Virtual and real discussions with entrepreneurs helped draw conclusions and provide recommendations.
Best practices and lessons learned built a collaborative learning exercise. It consisted of over 160 interviews with startup founders who failed along the way. The main attraction of the project was the Failing Forward conference organised in Brussels. Failing Forward provided a day of inspirational keynotes, workshops, power meetings and networking opportunities to the participants.
Local spin-off events in the partner regions raised awareness that failure was and would be an inherent part of ventures and innovation. Smaller #failingfwd events shared success stories built on incremental learning, and opened the existing startup support programs to web entrepreneurs from all over Europe.
In-depth interviews (VCs, business angels, community builders) completed the initial insights from startup founders. Recommendations from the findings helped increase the level of services provided by the partners. It also facilitated a better approach to help to spot potential risks at an early stage. The partners compiled a list of recommendations for the best format for #failingfwd events as well.
Acceptance of failure is incremental towards a paradigm shift in Europe. LIFE project succeeded shaping the failure subject into a critical yet rational discourse. Widespread stigmatisation of those who entered the bumpy road to success starts to tarnish. Instead, rising like a phoenix attitude should become an integral part of European education. Eliminating the stigma will trigger a broader societal effect. It can lead to significant policy changes, for instance easing bankruptcy legislation. Our hope is that LIFE project played a role in igniting an incremental change in the European entrepreneurial culture.