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Meet la French Tech Program

Bonjour La French Tech
Yesterday morning at France Digital Day 2014, La French Tech has organized a private session of discussion between the American delegation and:
  • its major entrepreneurs (or similar): Marie Ekeland (co-founder of France Digitale), Tariq Krim (Founder and CEO of Jolicloud), Jérôme Lecat (CEO of Scality) et Olivier Mathiot (Cofounder of Price Minister / Rakuten, Co-president of France Digitale)
  • French Government representatives Axelle Lemaire (French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs) and Fleur Pellerin (Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Tourism Promotion and French overseas)
  • Finance and legal experts: Paul-François Fournier (Executive Innovation Director at Bpifrance), Jean-Michel Deligny (go4venture), Nicolas von Bulow (Clipperton), Emmanuelle Wargon (General Director for employment policies, Ministry of Labour), Franck Sebag (Partner, Ernst and Young)

Subjects broached:
– The French VC/Startup ecosystem
– French Labor Law, perception and realities
– French Tax burden, perception and realities
– Key figures of French High-Tech startups sector

Key Quotes:

“Thinking that we need to copy the Israeli model in France is an absurdity. France is a large market, with talents, technologies AND growing startups and global leaders.” Nicolas Von Bulow, Partner at Clipperton

“There is no pattern for growth outside France. Some will flip, some won’t. Some will keep R&D in France, some won’t. The true issue is how to grow international business, how should remain a unique receipe.” Jonathan Seelig, Globespan Capital

“The word Entrepreneur is a French word” Axelle Lemaire, French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs

“France is moving in the right direction, lots of good signs” Paul Francois Fournier, (Executive VP Innovation at Bpifrance), talking about the French Startup Ecosystem

“Stop the 6PM, stop the French bashing, let’s have a pragmatic approach, let’s look at the numbers and let’s see what France has to propose” Paul Francois Fournier, (Executive VP Innovation at Bpifrance)

“5 years ago, my entrepreneur friends were saying: “I want to build my company and sell it for 30M. Today with Criteo, Neolane, etc., the paradigm is changing, French Entrepreneurs want to build one billion dollars companies, and that’s why we are here!” Paul Francois Fournier, (Executive VP Innovation at Bpifrance)

“We can feel it, our ecosystem is scaling up, that’s why we are so enthusiastic, there is something to be done and in 15 years we will say we have done that!” Paul Francois Fournier, (Executive VP Innovation at Bpifrance)

“I know Americans can’t picture public intervention in the economy. But the reason why Bpifrance exists is the early stage (compare to Silicon Valley) of our digital and venture economy. We are pragmatic, just like you.” Paul Francois Fournier, (Executive VP Innovation at Bpifrance)

“There is a gap between what we are doing and the way it is perceived” Fleur Pellerin, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Tourism Promotion and French overseas, Former French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs

“What France is experiencing is deep transformation, disruption. In education, in business, in public policies, everywhere.” Fleur Pellerin, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Tourism Promotion and French overseas, Former French Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs

“When you get the young innovation enterprise program (JEI) in France, you have a very minimum tax. That’s quite unique!” Tariq Krim, Founder and CEO of Jolicloud

“There is a perception problem of the French startup ecosystem: the story about the 6PM, the reaction on the sell of Dailymotion are misunderstood in the US. It’s a very negative press for you and you have to work on that.” Ed Zimmermann, co-founder at Grape Arbor VC

“It took a while for California to take NYC seriously. We had to be sure that the model works. I’m sure if you resolve your marketing it will work for you” Ed Zimmermann, co-founder at Grape Arbor VC

“First you have users adoption, and then you fix the law. That’s what happened with Paypal, Airbnb, etc.” Jonathan Seelig, Globespan Capital

“The truth is that it’s more secure for American VCs to invest in California. In France we have no lawyers or accountants, so it’s complicated for us to invest in Europe (…) but this is also how lots of VCs missed companies such as Skype or Criteo!” Om Malik, Founder of GigaOM

“The more opportunities I have to invest in French companies, the more opportunities I have to drink good wine! So please let me drink!” Ed Zimmermann, co-founder at Grape Arbor VC

“It’s becoming harder to hire in the US, we need to hire technical talents outside of the US.” Om Malik, Founder of GigaOM

“I learnt a great lot today. You just have a huge communication problem” Doug Carlisle, General Partner at Menlo Ventures

“So it is quite fast and flexible!” [talking about collective redundancies regulation] Doug Carlisle, General Partner at Menlo Ventures

“I really don’t see what’s wrong about your ecosystem. You have everything that you could dream of. Just tell the world, and keep growing!” Dylan Tweeney, Venture Beat