Exploring the French Digital Ecosystem: Soft-Landing, the second edition.

This November 2018, IMT Starter hosted the second Soft-Landing mission. Soft-Landing is a Startup Europe initiative, a part of the European Union Horizon 2020 program in Paris. The delegation of Startups and Ecosystem builders from all over the world participated in discovering French Tech hub.

Soft-Landing Mission in Paris, November 2018

Soft-Landing is Back in Paris

On first day of the Soft-Landing mission in Paris, IMT Starter welcomed 5 startups and 7 ecosystem builders. After the morning with cafe and croissants, Denis GUIBARD, the director of Institut Mines-Télecom Business School and Sebastien Cauwet, the director of the incubator IMT Starter. Afterwards, Augustin Radu, business development and international partnership manager presented the delegation with a session “The French Start-up Ecosystem: 20 years of experience of IMT Starter.”

The group participated in the Ice-Breaker session after the welcoming. Thanks to this session, participants learned more about each other that facilitated in communication and networking within participants throughout the whole program. It was an achievement of the day followed by pitch fire round by startups, which brought all the participants together learning about different ecosystems and their projects.

The afternoon of the first day was spent in a workshop with Susana Domingo, an expert on people development and facilitation and coaching.

One of the participants explains the workshop as; “While getting to know each-other we also had the workshop where we consolidated a bunch of similar strategic challenges and took turns addressing and interacting with them and are able to bring their opinions to bear on the challenge we were each facing.”

Meeting with Station F and Parisian Investors

The second day the Soft-Landers visited Station F, the world’s biggest start-up campus and spent the morning there with a panel of BA networks and Parisian VCs like Elaia Partners, Mutual Benefits, Breega and Xange. Startups and builders met with the panel in a low-pressure environment discussing in the area of financing the businesses in different stages and its impact on international expansion and growth strategies.

The afternoon was spent with Christophe Fourtet co-founder of Sigfox, an industrial and corporate representative. He shared his experience with Sigfox describing new tech and its success.

First-hand experience

On the third day, the Paris Region Enterprise hosted the Soft-landing for the day where the participants met key players in the French ecosystem. Wilco, Paris Region Enterprise and Systematic cluster presented the French tech startup hub with more than 800 connected network of industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

The foreign startups and companies are reluctant to scale in France as one of the reasons to be tedious administration process. Paris region Agency is representing the French government initiative La French Tech, which welcomes the international startups to the French market by providing startup Visa helping startups and scaleups to enter the French market and providing legal support, R&D partnerships, office space, financial and resource management assistance, access to financial tools and business opportunities. This allows entrepreneurs to explore French market while developing its business strategy.

After lunch, Julian Coulon shared his first-hand experience on entrepreneurship. The founder of Cedexis explained not only the issues an entrepreneur faces while developing the business but also personal and emotional challenges a CEO faces. Tanguy Yu also shared his achievements in creating Ubisoft and its successful exit to the startups and ecosystem representatives. These personal stories and tips from successful entrepreneurs brought a new light on entrepreneurship.

“I am grateful for my participation in the Soft-Landing Mission to Paris, in November of 2018. It was inspiring and enjoyable to meet other entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders. The opportunity to interact with them, to troubleshoot strategic challenges, and to learn from their experience and perspectives was very rewarding. I would highlight the shadow-board sessions and the sessions on how to incorporate in France — these alone were worth the trip. If you are considering international expansion, the Soft-Landing Mission is definitely worth exploring.” –Christian Kruse, Tracks for Trucks.

The last 2 days of the Soft-Landing mission in Paris was dedicated to start-ups. Startups participated in A Shadow Board mentoring session where each startup met a panel of successful mentors discussing key issues in their project. The last program was the Masterclass, “New Ventures’ Experience: Launching and financing New ventures” by Mr Etienne Krieger which is designed for those who want to be familiar with venture capital and with the various mechanisms financing innovation and growth. Participants are introduced to the main stakeholders of the financial ecosystem; entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business angels and financial intermediaries.

After a good 5 days, the Paris mission has come to an end with feedback session from the participants.

What participants say about Soft-Landing…

“It was an amazing experience of exploring Parisian startup ecosystem, the most prospering ecosystem in Europe. We not only met the major players in the Parisian hub and obtained all the information and tools which can be used to take most of the value provided by the ecosystem but also got connected with successful entrepreneurs and ventures from Paris as well as networked a lot with ecosystem builders from all over Europe.” –Ani Sargasen, DoctorMath.
“Soft-Landing Paris Mission has given us a broad vision about what we can do and how to establish and scale our business in France in a very quick but systematic way in terms of overall ecosystem, investment opportunities, financials system and more. We really appreciated all the program and we learned a lot from (being introduced to) well-exited successful entrepreneurs of France ecosystem and what kind of struggling and achievements they had. And of course being in a very intercultural environment with ecosystem builders from different countries with a well-organized excellent foods & dinners was amazing.” - Hayrettin Erturk, Bead

Thank you all the Soft-Landers in participating and making this mission a success and more to come in 2019.

Soft-Landing has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 780914

-By Niraj Karmacharya, Project Manager IMT Starter

Soft-Mission in Paris, November 2018