Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Europe Unlimited

One of the new sponsors of The WSJE Future Leadership Institute is Europe Unlimited, a Brussels based company bridging SME start ups with venture capital. Today they organized their "Benelux Venture 50" a venture forum where they selected 50 promising companies to present their case to a panel of venture capitalists. It was a good event, a good day, but the day became memorable because of a black suitcase.

At the end of the day Europe Unlimited organized an Award Ceremony. High-growth companies selected from each of the parallel sector review sessions were honored and invited to comment on their key factors of success. While the 9 winners presented themselves I suddenly noticed an abandoned black suitcase against the wall of the auditorium. It was not the suitcase that attracted my attention but the newspaper that was sticking out of one of the side pockets: a folded WSJE!!

After the ceremony I met the owner of the suitcase: Dr. Herbert Koentges, Business Development Director at Medical Device Works NV. It is always awkward to step up to unknown people, but if they carry a WSJE in their suitcase, it creates the perfect excuse to start a conversation with a stranger.

Dr. Herbert Koentges turned out to be an old WSJE subscriber. I had a wonderful conversation with him about the newspaper industry. Just a few elements to highlight the profile of a WSJE subscriber:

Dr. Koentges (ca 55 - 60 years):
- PhD physical chemistry from TU-Berlin
- Involved in Cordis MBO
- Member of start-up teams 3 medtech companies with IPO on Nasdaq
- Private investor in several medtech ventures
- Funded the start up of Medical Device Works NV together with the current CEO.
- Succeeded in landing 3.5 m Euro from venture capitalists mainly through his INSEAD network.

I asked him if WSJE was his first newspaper of choice:
When I asked this he took the folded WSJE copy from his suitcase, rolled it out and....a IHT copy popped up. IHT is his first newspaper of choice. WSJE is number 2. He reads both newspapers every day.

For world events he reads IHT.
For world business he reads WSJE.

Where does he read the newspapers ?
In the morning in his car, they both lay on the passenger seat and every time he has to stop for a red light he reads a part on the cover pages. In the daily traffic jams around Brussels he continues to read parts of the other stories.

About WSJE:
He likes the compact format, the short and precise articles, the view on world business.

About the IHT:
He is a IHT subscriber for 30 years now. In a former post I wrote about the Paris' soul of the IHT, Dr. Koentges actually doesn't like the Paris link too much. It brings him too much fashion he says. He likes the opinion pages of the IHT the most.

About other newspapers:
He would never subscribe to Financial Times, it is too British, and the articles are too long. He says "most of the FT articles are so big, but of so little importance".