Against all odds, I’m still bullish on French startups

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A foreign French view on French startups ecosystem. By Martin Mignot

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“We Are the Entrepreneurs of the Future” – SiliconHills

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That is how it is done. A great example of what should happen everywhere in the world.

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Young old geezers .. France’s next generation of entrepreneurs ?

This is Sam's Town - young old geezers ?

Some provocative title here ?

Maybe … Certainly.

I came to attend a networking night yesterday evening (soirée networking “100% Entrepreneurs”), organized by Dynamique Entrepreneuriale, a (great) French magazine targeting entrepreneurs (or entrepreneurial-minded people) founded by Julien and Olivier Nishimata.

Great evening, huge attendance (they were expecting 600 entrepreneurs and I would assume the figures are right), some renowned French entrepreneurs with the likes of Pierre Tremolières (, Augustin Paluel-Marmont (Michel et Augustin), Natanael Wright (Wall Street Institute), etc … . What else then ?

Well, with this great set of entrepreneurs, one could have expected them to give more, in some way.

They were speaking on the topic of basically “becoming a CEO” (and not remaining a startup founder). Mind you, I consider it a truly good one as I have often said that this is knowledge or experience that startup founders do usually miss.

They have to learn how to become the Boss.

Yet, these serial – or, at least, experienced – entrepreneurs did only scratch the top of the topic providing very general insight in my regards. Just go to the university next door, attend a basic business lecture and you will get the same points and tips.

Like you have to manage people, to hire skilled people, learn that you need to delegate, etc … .

I am a lover of the “back to basics” mantra but when having such great people on stage then it is still frustrating to have them deliver just the standard messages. It feels like not making the most of them.

Anyway, I am still impressed by the strong set put together here by Julien and Olivier (and their team) and the amazing figures when it comes to attendance.

Now moving on to the socking/frustrating part; from my point of view that is.

From discussions with people – that is networking night after all so chatting is why people are out there – I did feel like something was missing.

Reminder; a lot of young entrepreneurs, a cool networking night, nothing to fear, yet, the flavor is missing. The entrepreneurial spirit, this eagerness to move on, fail – or not – fail again and succeed at some point is not there.

Some guys, in their early 20s speaking like retired bankers or wondering whether they should go for a standard employee job (e.g. set hours, fix salary, peace of mind, …) rather than pushing their ideas forward, that does make for a sorry bunch in the end.

I can but only compare (once again, blame me for that) with my recent i7 Summit experience where any of the American startups presenting did display power, energy, passion, all the right ingredients of entrepreneurship.

The difference it makes, easy to call : the eagerness to walk the path of entrepreneurship.

Whatever the idea, any idea can be foundations for a startup (I will develop further in an upcoming post) but what makes the difference, the success (or the failure) is the spirit. And the spirit basically is the people, be it one, two, more working on a project.

Having doubts is ok but sticking to them is road to sorry failure. One from which no lesson is learned and no path built for another startup experience and another and another … .

I do still think that France does have amazing talents out there and the startup scene does show a huge amount of potential for success (the guys at “Rude Baguette” certainly do say it more than often – and they do have the experience and the educated insight in the startup scene) but there is still an extra mile to walk to come on top.

Competition is all over the place. The same idea is born everywhere, every second.

Founders, entrepreneurs, make the difference !

Silicon Valley Comes to the Baltics

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Influential entrepreneurs from the Silicon Valley are coming to Vilnius, Lithuania to meet their Lithuanian and European counterparts to share their expertise and explore future collaborations. 

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Lost in investment : a fair look into it : “Navigating the funding maze”

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So many ways to fund a company (yes, there are) but which is/are the right (or say bet) for you ? A good look into it to be found on The Guardian.

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SVC2Baltics : Entrepreneurs in the birth.

Entrepreneur was born a French word … .

At i7 Summit , last week (Oct 10 to 12th), Tim Draper was asked a question regarding France.

Basically, what should be done to make France successful, or say a successful business in some way ?
The reply, with a grin, was about breaking it down and rebuilding.

Suits me well. At least we share the same view on this matter.
No point in throwing away everything but, for some parts, entrepreneurship (or just entrepreneurial spirit) in the country has to cope with what I would call the “habits”.

Heritage regarding bad practices, poor company management and development skills, a looking-for-big-money-only spirit in some, etc … .

And those can hardly be turned back to the right direction. And how do you break down such a huge piece of past ? Try beating down a stone wall with a straw.

The current economic situation and random legal moves from the Government on taxes (for entrepreneurs, on profit, on earnings, on whatever … they seemingly wake up every morning with another new … idea for a tax) could maybe help sort the entrepreneurial landscape in the (near ?) future.

Well, even during dark times, the sun does still rise.
Have a look East and a buzzing startup scene is in sight. That is Berlin. Strongly developing, drawing in a lot of talent and showing the potential to be some new European “Valley”.

Still, keep looking East and there, one will see Lithuania. The new, new hub for startups in Europe ? Future will tell but, so far, the country has been making some noticeable noise on the startup scene.

With a reputation for boasting strong technical skills, the country does have a similar basis as France and, funny enough, still tend to have to overcome some of the same hurdles.
There is not yet much of a tolerance for failure there. The ecosystem still has to be developed, be it locally or internationally (especially when it comes to investors) and the Government would have to get more involved in the overall process of pushing entrepreneurship forward.

However, the startup culture in the country is growing.

People to meet when willing to have a look into the future : students.
Lithuanian students are quite ok with working part-time while studying and setting up their own businesses at the same time. Add to that a high level education, multilingual talent pool, fair investments in internet infrastructures, shake and you get the seeds and birth of a buzzing entrepreneurial culture with many young startups developing at country level and on the way to going global.
While still not shining on the startups world map, Lithuania is quietly but strongly developing, luring entrepreneurs through a relatively low-cost startup ecosystem mixed with talent graduating from local universities.

So Lithuania has a very large – and talented -youth base that basically needs entrepreneurial skills and mentorship.
With good work ethics and risk taking minds driven by senior and innovative mentorship, they will blossom and deliver.

Now, what better way of doing it than bringing Silicon Valley to this youth base ?
Let them experience, for a couple of days, what startups truly are about. Let Lithuania have a taste of where the next milestones should be.
What better opportunity is there for a country, for a startup ecosystem, to actually build on clear foundations with the advice – and enthusiasm – of the bests ?

That is what “Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics“, a two-days event, in Vilnius, Lithuania, is about.
This, from my point of view, is going to be an awesome event.
Putting together the next force behind the country’s future (e.g. local, talented, youth), inspiring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the Baltics business community and some random guys like myself from all over Europe, that definitely is the way to develop a sound and strong community around the startup ecosystem. And bring entrepreneurs, The spirit.

I am definitely looking forward to this event and to the actual development of Lithuania as a European startup hub.
Prove me right guys!

[event links :]