Beauty tech, French entrepreneurs ready to scale in the United States and China

Astrid Taupin
6 min readOct 15, 2018

France has a good reputation when it comes to Beauty. If classical brands like Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, just to name a few still lead the dance, new niche brands are ready to take the front-row.

Beauty Tech : French entrepreneurs could scale in the United States and China

France has a good reputation when it comes to Beauty. If classical brands like Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, just to name a few still lead the dance, new niche brands are ready to take the front-row.

Philippe Garnier, Grégoire Grandchamp, Candice Colin, Laurent Droin

On Oct 4, @TheBeautyTechParis led by Isabelle Rabier and Ilan Koskas organized the Meetup#2 hosted by Alven Capital in the heart of the French Silicon Valley. We were 60+ young entrepreneurs and VC talking about the advantage of being French in the tomorrow world.

Customized Beauty and Tech work side by side

In 2017, 22% of global skincare sold in France were customized products, Do It Yourself products, boosters included. Lucile Battail from LaBoté makes customized products in seven minutes in her lab rue Madame in Paris, near the very famous pharmacy rue du Four. Each customer meets a pharmacist for a diagnosis. From then, the customer chooses texture and fragrance of this unique skincare product. « We offer our customer a unique experience. We keep in touch with each of them to ask questions when they need, Save The Date for special events and Remind Me message to order their favorite skincare. »

Left : Lucile Battail and Morgan Acas, right : M.Acas

Morgan Acas who creates Romy Paris brings the lab to your bathroom with his Nespresso style device that can makes every morning and night just the dose of cream needed. This dose can be personalized depending on your skin, the season or your mood.

Distribution is the crux for any start-up to be successful

In each case, products must be 100% clean and secure with a good distribution. The combo online and retail seems to be the answer to make profit. « Besides our website, we sell our device in our store and pop-up stores. We are looking forward to opening new stores. Retail helps to create communication with customers. » says Acas.

« Selling customized products in pharmacy or department stores is not easy. You have to be creative. We have developed videoconferencing with our customers to help them choose the right product » explains Battail.

In a near future, we can imagine the end of huge factories for automatized mini-factory able to produce customized products at a high scale.

VCs are not philanthropists !

Wether Agathe Wautier from the Think Tank The Galion Project or François Meteyer from Alven or Camille Kriebitzsch from Eutopia, they all agree to help young founders at an early stage. « We select projets with a real purpose, a good ingredient, a patent or knowledge, where big corporations cannot go. » adds Kriebitzsch.

Left : Camille Kriebitzsch, François Meteyer and Agathe Wautier. Right : A.Wautier, C.Kriebitzsch

VCs are not philanthropists. Meteyer invests between 1 and 10 millions € in each new project. He has already invested in Sézane or Birchbox. Tonight he warns young founders of the dangers of starting a new business. « Before we pay a cent, we check the community engagement, the turnover, the margin, the distribution, the profitability…) Not to forget, VCs want to make money. We help them with strategy, brand content, recruitment, equity strategy, network… and stimulate the ambition.

François Meteyer

VCs and big corporations, the new tandem ?

Big corporations have developed business incubators lately but many founders are scared of them. Meteyer adds « So far, VCs and corporations do not have a lot in common. We could impart synergy to our work. VCs could invest and corporations could share their learnings. We have to think more about it. »

Going overseas is always a good idea

Making business in Europe is harder than it looks : various VAT, languages barriers make you loose time with these small markets. Instead, go bigger to the States or China to take advantage of their huge domestic markets. Meteyer mentions : « The smaller the brands are, the quicker they must go overseas. »

« When a brand is ready, it is interesting to help a start-up to go overseas where money and aggressiveness are » adds Kriebitzsch.

Start-ups must take advantage of Cross-Border Ecommerce to retain their community.

The French Touch is still a benefit

France has history, tradition and glamour. And that works. Even if French Beauty means quality and scientific rigor as Candice Colin (Officinea and Clean Beauty, an app to scan good ingredients) mentions, it is something that gives pleasure above all. Just like a glass of wine with dinner that helps to relax. The French Touch is a Parisian girl who knows perfectly how to twist elegance and insouciance or the pleasure to spend two hours at lunch. Beauty is an art of living, how to look and feel good at the same time. In the tech world, it is not enough.

Philippe Garnier, Grégoire Grandchamp

At least, it helps to prepare the way to enter a new market. Besides a good story telling, a french start up must bring tradition and tech together. « Understanding Tech means, developing KPI, driving more followers » says now Philippe Garnier (Octoly, an influencers platform) who lives in New York.

Astrid Taupin, Héloïse Dubois

As everyone knows, China is a tremendous market for the Beauty industry. It is easy for the French to be successful in China with a good mix of social medias and Cross Border ECommerce. Besides developing brand awareness, each KOL sells on WeChat or other platforms. Grégoire GrandChamp (NextBeauty) imports and distributes emerging french beauty brands on the Chinese market. We help emerging French brands to work with the best influencers before going to TMall, the largest ECommerce marketplace in China. And that works ! Twitter @astridtaupin IG : @astridtaupincazenave)

Isabelle Rabier, Ilan Koskas

The next @BeautyTechParis will be held January 17, 2019 at #LaPiscine , 9 rue Christophe Colomb. 75008 Paris.

The is now 12 chapters around the world, with 150 speakers and 1500+ attendees. To know more about our next MeetUps in your country :

Follow the BeautyTech community on @BeautyTechSF @BeautyTechparis

Many thanks to François Tancré (@eventpixr) for the amazing photos and Odile Roujol (@Odile_Roujol) for inspiring this beautiful event.



Astrid Taupin

Beauty Editor — Beauty Advisor — Brand Content — Travel writer — Ex-Madame Figaro Beauty Editor — Contributor @elle_fr — Live between Biarritz, Paris and Hawaii