The internet has huge potential for small businesses, enabling them to reach new customers located far beyond their home town. Realising that potential requires digital skills, and at Google, we’re committed to helping businesses acquire those skills through programmes like the Digital Garage, which offers free, face-to-face training with local digital experts in five cities across the UK.
But small businesses have countless demands on their time. Every hour away from the coalface costs revenue, so a decision to attend external training needs to pay off. So we designed the Digital Garage programme to be laser-focused on the needs of local small businesses - and to be as practical and easily implemented as possible. We also commissioned IPPR North, a British think tank, to survey participants and find out how we were doing.
In Leeds and Birmingham, home to the first two Digital Garage sites, IPPR North interviewed participants after their first training session, and then reinterviewed them at six and twenty weeks after their initial visit. The results (full report here) were impressive:
88% of participants had made changes to the way they run their businesses online
27% had seen more sales or bookings
32% had seen an increase in customer numbers
49% had seen an increase in website visitor numbers
9% had hired additional staff to manage their digital work
Digital Garage attendees like Jonathon Blackburn help bring these statistics to life. He set up his building and property maintenance company The HouseMan in 2012, and was keen to use the web to reach new customers and expand his business. At the Digital Garage he received training on online advertising and within ten weeks was quoting for five times as much work and had taken on two new members of staff to meet the demand.
The Digital Garage programme doesn’t just benefit entrepreneurs - it also has an effect on the wider local community. In both Leeds and Birmingham, we worked together with local government and business leaders to find easily accessible venues for our Digital Garages that would drive awareness of the scheme. We also wanted to try and create a ripple effect in the community, attracting other businesses to the same location, as we did at Birmingham city library - enabling the library to extend its opening hours, to the benefit of the entire community.
In December 2015, we opened our third Digital Garage, in Manchester, and 2016 will see us open more across the UK. IPPR North will continue to evaluate our performance, helping us further increase the impact this project can make to the small businesses, entrepreneurs and future workers of the UK.
Posted by Katie O'Donovan, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager
Last week I was in Warsaw to launch Campus Warsaw, a modern space for entrepreneurship, in a town that is postively pulsing with start-up talent. I am thrilled to see how Poland and the broader Central Eastern European region is making a big digital leap and I’m happy that Google can help fuel this growth.
Campus Warsaw is a place for Poland’s and Central Eastern Europe’s entrepreneurs to gather, build companies, network, learn and share. The site provides everything necessary - from office and event space to training and mentoring programs and more - to help freshly-minted entrepreneurs thrive.
A year ago, Eric Schmidt discussed this project with Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk - as a way to strengthen Poland's and CEE region's innovation economy. Last week I was joined by political leaders and startup community leaders from Poland, thirteen European Member States and the United States, to celebrate the launch of this investment.
Campus Warsaw was opened under the Honorary Patronage of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland was joined by government officials and startup communities representatives from 15 countries at the inauguration ceremony. Everyone was excited to see how a strong focus on entrepreneurship can fuel economic growth in the CEE region.
Campus Warsaw is joining our similar investments in London, Tel Aviv, Madrid, and Seoul. Other Campus sites, like Campus London, which opened its doors just over three years ago, have been hugely successful, building a community of nearly 50,000 members. Startups there have created more than 1,800 new jobs, raising over US$110 million in funding.
Campus Warsaw is part of our Growth Engine effort for all of Europe -- Europe's entrepreneurship is growing and going global on digital -- strong entrepreneurship spirit (and a Single Digital Market) is what Europe needs the most to boost its economic growth and competitiveness.
Posted by Matt Brittin, President, Google EMEA, Business & Operations
Last month I got an email from a proud daughter in the UK whose mother Tricia Cusden used Google tools to launch a makeup business called Look Fabulous Forever. She used Search to find suppliers; she built a following using YouTube to show older women makeup tips; and she’s using Google Adwords to find customers online. To date, her YouTube channel has racked up over half-a-million views, and her company now exports products to 24 countries around the world.
Today we are launching an initiative spotlighting hundreds of European entrepreneurs like Tricia who have used Google products as a growth engine for their businesses. We’re also announcing that Google will train 1 million Europeans to learn crucial digital skills by 2016. Not long ago, small businesses could only afford to source and sell locally. Global marketing and distribution were out of reach for all but the biggest. Today, any business can reach a global market using the Internet, allowing even the smallest businesses to be a multinational.
If you have a product or service, Google AdWords can connect your business with potential customers. Take Berto Salotti, a furniture-maker who has shared his story as part of our project. In 2002, after 30 years of production, Berto had six employees based in Meda, Italy, where they sold most of their furniture. Today, after marketing online through Adwords, they’ve quadrupled in both size and revenue and have customers worldwide.
Eumelia is an ecotourism farm and guesthouse based in rural Greece that uses Google tools to reach out to prospective visitors as far away as Japan and Australia. The company’s founder, Frangiskos, said AdWords is “the best way for a small, local business to have global impact.” And Dutch office supply company DiscountOffice said Adwords "levels the playing field", allowing them "to compete with big multinationals from the beginning.”
But it’s not just online marketing through AdWords that helps businesses grow; YouTube has helped European creators and entrepreneurs attract fans and customers using the power of video. Marie Lopez is like many 19-year-old Parisians. She loves fashion, design and makeup. But what makes Marie different is that she has more than one million people around the world who subscribe to her YouTube channel, EnjoyPhoenix. Having amassed over 120 million views, Marie is now developing her own line of products and working with top brands like L’Oreal. Today, thousands of YouTube channels are making six figures annually and total revenue amongst our YouTubers has grown by 50 percent in each of the last two years.
Google Play is also a huge growth engine for European developers, connecting them to a booming global app economy. Launched in Spain, WePlan is a free Android app that looks at how people use their phones, and recommends the best carriers for their needs. Today it has more than 100,000 users in 24 countries. And WePlan has gone from five to 18 employees in just two years. Last year, Google paid out more than €4.4 billion to developers like WePlan.
We are excited that businesses all around Europe are using the technology we provide as an engine for their growth. To see more of these stories, check out this video:
It’s clear that the opportunities for businesses in the digital age are immense--there are many more ways to reach customers than anyone could have imagined not that long ago. But, for Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already. With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders. The European Commission has rightly identified the digital single market as one of Europe’s top priorities.
Of course, the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don’t have the right skills. At current rates, the EU predicts a shortfall of 900,000 jobs by 2020 due to a lack of digital skills, and there are many businesses that want to get online but don’t know where to start. At Google we’re playing our part. Over the last year we have have helped tens of thousands of German entrepreneurs export through partnerships with DHL, PayPal and Commerzbank. We have trained tens of thousands of young, unemployed people in Spain with free courses on subjects like web development, digital marketing, and ecommerce. And, we have shown thousands of traditional Italian craftspeople how to sell and market their wares online.
But we want to do more. So, today we’ve announced that Google will train 1 million Europeans in crucial digital skills by 2016. We will invest an additional €25M to broaden our current programs and take them to new markets across Europe to train more small businesses on the digital skills they so need. We’ll build a Europe-wide training hub to support businesses anywhere in Europe to get training online.
Some people look at the state of the economy in Europe and are pessimistic. We see something else: a huge diversity of businesses and entrepreneurs with creativity, ambition, and talent -- all using digital tools to create jobs and boost the economy.
Posted by Matt Brittin, President, EMEA Business and Operations, Google