The VivaTech Tour de Force

Ludovic Ulrich
2 min readJun 24, 2019

A few weeks ago, I attended VivaTech, the Paris-based conference dubbed “the world’s rendez-vous for startups and leaders.” This was my third time attending and the fourth year the conference has run and I can say it has evolved into quite a marquee event, attracting major industry players from French President Emmanuel Macron to Ali Baba’s Jack Ma to LVMH’s CEO, Bernard Arnault.

By the numbers, VivaTech 2019 played host to 13,000 startups, hundreds of established enterprises and 3,300 investors and welcomed over 124,000 attendees from 125 countries who take in two days of interesting content on trends and innovation from an impressive lineup of international tech leaders.

But what makes Vivatech unique is their exhibition floor which unlike most technology conference features both startups and large corporations including French companies Orange, LVMH, BNP. One of the main reasons for this unique format is to show how these sophisticated companies are engaging with the dynamic French startup ecosystem, exemplified by the impressive Station F, the biggest startup campus in the world.

Some skeptics might wonder how deep the relationships effectively are between these sides. Are these startups really delivering their solution in production to these large companies or are they still at the early phases of a micro pilot with limited potential?

Based on several “mystery customers” conversations, clearly you have the full gamut! Startups often fail because they lack customers and partners (not because they lack financing) so it is fantastic to see this wide mutual willingness to engage.

At Silicon Foundry, we work at the intersection of the innovation ecosystem and see this type of collaboration between startups and corporations increasingly happening globally and across industries. One thing that might be less obvious is that VivaTech is likely the closest incarnation of the future of the job fair!

More than ever before, tens of thousands of students graduate from university each year with the dream of becoming founders or joining a high growth startup — versus what was historically the traditional path: joining a legacy player. Saavy big companies are using the VivaTech platform to position themselves alongside startups and showcase that they can provide an equally agile environment and backdrop for innovation.

Takeaways
Every corporation has its roots in entrepreneurship and was once a startup, but more importantly, corporations today cannot continue to out-innovate and out-perform their competitors without engaging with the outside. VivaTech is a strong manifestation of it in Europe.

While corporations use the VivaTech platform as a way to showcase the dynamic ecosystem around them, it is also a smart way to position their brand with the market and more specifically their employer brand with graduating talents who nowadays lure more at a “founder” position than at a corporate job.

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Ludovic Ulrich

French-born, I can pronounce/spell Entrepreneur properly | Partner @Silicon Foundry | xSalesforce ☁ xStartupWeekend xBizSpark xMSFT | Gastro-aholic, & ski bum.