Takeaways from the Sommet des Start-ups & thoughts on French entrepreneurship

18 April, 2017


Challenges, French entrepreneurship, Snapchatpitch, Sommet des Startups, startup ecosystem


On April 13th, we took part in Challenges magazine‘s main event of the year: Le Sommet des Startups, a reference for French entrepreneurship.

Our whole team participated in various ways: Jean Marie delivered great insights, Stephanie helped Challenges select the start-ups for the Summit, Clement and I put together the SnapchatPitch, and the whole team was there the 13th to connect with the entrepreneurs and investors to onboard them with OneRagtime. That’s how we do it! #success

It was also the opportunity to do a deep dive in the French Start-up ecosystem.

Deep Tech: French Excellence

Entrepreneur is a french word but if I ask you to name 5 entrepreneurs you’ll probably name 5 Americans. Everyone knows however, that French engineers are among the best in the world, if not the best in the world. For once, we can actually brag about something legitimately!

So who could better set the pace of the day than a French entrepreneur who built his success in the Silicon Valley, entrepreneurship capital of the world? Loic Le Meur, founder of Leader.rs, appeared very optimistic for the future of French entrepreneurship. All the ingredients are gathered to nurture great success, and we are not over-looked anymore by our American counterparts.

The French Tech is made up of some of the world’s leading experts in the most advanced fields: Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Self driving cars, Biotech, you name it.

This pool of talents and experts are working everyday to build the technology that will shape our future. These talents used to leave France as soon as they could to go and contribute their skills to the development of other tech ecosystems, starting with the Silicon Valley. But the challenges and opportunities they are now offered in France are giving them more and more reasons to stay, much to our delight.

A Maturing Ecosystem 

The new challenges and opportunities did not just appeared magically overnight though. We created them. The French entrepreneurship fibre created a new wave of successful start-ups who have decided to set up their business in France. And they are propelling the entire ecosystem in their wake.

Other than the well-known Bla Bla Car, Vente Privée, Criteo, Dailymotion, or Deezer, new successful start-ups are emerging as world leaders, Teads, Drivy, Sigfox, Devialet, Mon Showroom, and many more.

More importantly, successful entrepreneurs are getting involved in the development of the ecosystem. The best example being Xavier Niel opening Station F, the world’s soon-to-be largest start-up campus.

French entrepreneurship is indeed experiencing a virtuous circle. Developments are speeding up. Incubators and start-up programs of all kinds are blooming all across the board and are involving lots of people. For example, EuraTechnologies in Lille has been showing us how it’s done for a few years now. They are the living proof of the benefits a collaboration between start-ups and corporates can bring to both parties, while giving start-ups the space to develop everything they need for their success.

Even more so today, in times of uncertainty, France’s maturity and potential need to shine to pave the way for new entrepreneurs. The rise in populism is against the essence of technology, and against the values of the great Lumières philosophers, who, you must know, were French. France can become and has to become a welcoming haven for entrepreneurs willing to build our future.

With these kinds of insights, and in our current political environment (French elections are just around the corner), it was perfectly fitting that Emmanuel Macron should conclude the event. He is the only candidate (with Francois Fillon but on a lower level) promoting the excellence of our start-ups and rallying the values of entrepreneurship.

On sparking the desire to be financed

The Start-up Summit was the opportunity for Jean Marie to distill some precious insights to the entrepreneurs present at the event.

These are 5 key points we look at when we are evaluating an investment opportunity:

  • The quality of the team

Is the team able to charm us?

How persevering are they?

Are they trustworthy?

Do they communicate their passion and intuition well?

  • The idea and the market

Can you express your idea in simple words? Hence why we use Snapchat as a pitch format.

How big is it? Is it ready?

How fragmented is it?

Where is it heading to? How does it converge towards other sectors?

How fast will it adopt your product?

Have you done the job to understand the new needs? What are the new usages?

What is your marketing strategy?

  • How good is your technology?

Deep technology. You have to be ‘tech-top’, coining the man himself…

  • The belittled exercise of the Business Plan

Your business plan will have changed completely in a few months time, investors know that. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to show them very strong ones.

It shows that you asked yourself the right questions and that you know where you are going, and how you plan to get there.

Ultimately it must always answer these 3 questions:

    • What is the product?
    • Who is using it?
    • Who is paying for it?
  • Do you really want to receive help?

Are you actively looking for mentors? Do you even accept this mentorship?

Besides from delivering these insights, Jean Marie repeated the importance of big corporates getting friendlier with the start-up ecosystem. It’s vital for these groups to keep innovating. You don’t just find innovative solutions hiding under a rock. Innovation is a long process that starts with the usages and the experiences they provide. It’s tedious and it requires to be at the closest of the ecosystem. Only then can you understand its needs and aspirations, only then can you understand where it’s heading before anyone else. Start-ups have mastered this game, and this is why OneRagtime works so well with an investment bank like Messier Maris.

France has got talent

This event is before anything else the annual release of Challenges edition the Top 100 French Startups.

We are glad to have contributed to the selection of the 10 start-ups who presented during the conference, working with Challenges to put together the Top French Startup SnapchatPitch. It was the opportunity to demonstrate the diversity and ambition of French entrepreneurship. We pushed entrepreneurs outside of their confort zone to present their project. The outcome was truly great.

Although there were many great start-ups, the juries had to select a winner for the 5 categories.

We are looking forward to seeing all the start-ups who took part develop and grow their project.

French entrepreneurship is at its best. The future is bright in France, so let’s hope France lives up to the value of its Great Lumières philosophers in the upcoming elections. France used to export its talents, now it’s exporting great companies. We can only hope that it will keep going that way.


Antoine Delanglade