A thriving European digital economy is one of the cornerstones of growth and employment in the EU. It is also fundamental to the modernisation of traditional industry. With estimated gains of 500 billion Euro in additional growth and a substantial boost to job creation in Europe, the EPP Group will work towards the completion of the Digital Single Market so as to deliver maximum benefits and added value to our citizens and businesses.
In other words, we want to offer our citizens a larger variety of cross-border services, stimulate the creation of innovative online services at competitive prices and facilitate easier access for businesses, and in particular SMEs, to cross-border markets. Part of this involves encouraging education and entrepreneurship.
We had a chat with Raul Liive, a talented young man from Estonia, who has an inspiring story to tell about how he founded his own start-up company.
Gaining valuable work experience from early on
Raul has a Masters degree in Design and Development of Virtual Environments from the University of Tartu. A good education is one of the keys to success. Raul told us how his masters programme differed from the usual university degrees, as it focused on practical work and experience instead of theoretical lectures.
As we continued talking about young people’s career opportunities, Raul revealed how he already started to work very early in his life. “My first real job was to sell newspapers when I went to ninth grade,” he laughed. “During high school I did few website development projects and ran a personal website for a while.”
“My first real full-time job was to build, repair and diagnose computer equipment. It was a great experience to get to know customers and their problems and to communicate with them.”
RauI believes that it’s extremely valuable experience as a youngster to start from a low-level hands-on job: “You will learn the real value of money and the work you need to put in to earn your living.”
You will learn the real value of money and the work you need to put in to earn your living Raul Liive
He gained his first start-up experience when he joined a TV station just a few weeks before airtime: “It was a fun TV project, a TV channel for youth. Officially my job was to work with partners and sell advertising, but in real life it turned out to be much more. For example, one day the channel content was aired from my laptop, as we were upgrading the server.”
After that Raul gained a huge amount of experience working for Skype, where he was running the global volunteer feedback collection programme and managing the software testing outsourcing activities.
RealiSing the dream of running an own company despite setbacks
Raul told us how, after 8 years in Skype, he wanted new challenges: “I had always dreamt of running my own company.”
Raul was then involved with ‘Ajujaht’ (Brainhunt), a popular business plan competition, by mentoring a team who wanted to build a new type of nutrition advice system. Though the team was not successful in the competition, Raul still decided to go after his goals with the team leader.
I have gained an enormous amount of new knowledge and experience from running the company. I would suggest that everyone try out being an entrepreneur. It will pay off, definitely.
Now they have an early-stage start-up company which is earning money.
“I have gained an enormous amount of new knowledge and experience from running the company. I would suggest that everyone try out being an entrepreneur. It will pay off, definitely,” Raul is convinced.
The hardest part of starting a company is making sure you are going to do the right thing
Raul encourages young entrepreneurs to take a risk: “The hardest part of starting a company is making sure you are going to do the right thing. But you really won’t know fully before you try it out.”
Promoting entrepreneurship for more innovation and competition
Raul believes that it is important to endorse entrepreneurship and encourage people to start their own companies. Many new companies will fail, but the ones that succeed will create new jobs and growth. “There’s always a tiny amount of new starters that will turn into the big success stories.”
Raul sees most, if not all, the old and non-effective business areas being overtaken by the next wave of the companies. “We have already seen the communication landscape totally change thanks to Skype, Google, Facebook and others. We see now how global banking is being moved forward by Transferwise and similar initiatives.”
We should make sure that we don’t block innovative minds and technologies with paperwork more appropriate to 20th century businesses
“Just an example - both in banking and communications the fees that we pay now are only a fraction of what we needed to pay to the old cumbersome corporations just few years ago.”
It is essential to cut bureaucracy. “We should make sure that we don’t block innovative minds and technologies with paperwork more appropriate to 20th century businesses,” stresses Raul.