European start-ups pay to pitch to investors

Executives from a bevy of young European companies took the stage in Amsterdam, hoping to strike it big in what they anticipate will be a second Internet boom an Associated Press report said. Some 25 startup companies paid €2,487 (US$3,900) each for the chance to speak for up to five minutes to 1,000 venture capitalists, journalists, bloggers and fellow entrepreneurs at The Next web event.

Similar conferences have been held for several years in the US, but they are relatively new to Europe, the report said and quoted the conference organiser, Patrick de Laive, as saying that European entrepreneurs are hungry for capital and a chance to meet one another. He said, 'I hope that some of them will break through.'

Robert Goldberg, a partner at YL Ventures who traveled from San Francisco for the conference, said Europe lacks 'early stage' venture capital, adding, 'That's why we're here. There are incredible educational centres [in Europe] and unbelievable entrepreneurial spirit, but now there needs to be a little bit of energy and capital to be provided to foster that.'

Few of the companies at The Next web conference appear revolutionary at first glance, but then neither were search engines when Google appeared on the scene, the report pointed out. Many offer more and easier ways to slice and share information online or by mobile phone.

One of the most straightforward ideas is from Belgium's Zilok, a site where people can offer their belongings for rent instead of for sale, the report said. The company, which operates in France, the US and most recently the Netherlands, is 'becoming a phenomenon,' founder Gary Cige claimed.