Paris’ Startup Scene Is On The Rise
While France has never been in the foreground of entrepreneurial innovation, a flourishing new startup culture has recently started to establish itself in the Parisian business world. The French startup ecosystem has began to gain momentum thanks to improved legislation, increased funding by venture capitalists and angel investors, as well as the fact that France is finally taking advantage of its pool of strong engineering talent.
There have been a number of initiatives born in recent years that have supported the country’s shift towards innovation and entrepreneurship. “Le French Tech“, for example, is a publicly funded initiative that aims to bring together all the people working in the startup community in a joint effort to promote the country’s innovative companies to Silicon Valley investors and attract new funding.
Even more importantly, new Paris-based accelerators like “the Family”, have started to support early-stage startups by offering education opportunities, access to mentors, business connections, as well as working and living accommodations. Furthermore, in 2016 Paris will house what is billed as the “world’s largest digital business incubator”. This project, which is suitably named “1000 Start-ups” will host 1000 young companies at the renovated Halle Freyssinet building, right at the center of the city.
There is also a crop of Paris-based startups that have started to grow and expand outside of the country’s borders, leading the way for new entrepreneurs. The childcare platform Yoopies, which launched at the beginning of 2012, now operates in five European countries while maintaining its headquarters in the French capital. The company matches parents with childcare providers using the power of social recommendations. Its plans for the future include a move into different homecare services like housekeeping.
Evaneos, another Paris-based startup, provides an online platform to help travelers design, estimate the cost, and book personalised trips by connecting them to local agents. It competes with traditional European tour operators and has recently managed to raise $6 million in Series B funding to support its growth in the European travel industry.
There are many other smaller startup ventures that are trying to innovate in traditional markets. Smarter Paris is a young company that has created a sleek new travel guide for the French capital that is 100% made in Paris and is available for iPhones and iPads. The team of Parisian editors creates exclusive content, including guided walks around different neighborhoods in Paris, and shares with users unique tips and secrets about the city.
While the first foundations have been laid in Paris for a startup ecosystem that is going to thrive in the future, it will take generations of companies for it to be able to compete with the more mature and established scenes in London and Berlin. What is needed most in Paris is for startups to be able to have greater access to affordable working spaces, technical talent and growth financing options.