Last week, as many of you know, I hosted the first of a 3-part conference series on innovation called Les Matinales. We had some incredible speakers, from companies like Airbnb, Uber, Stardoll, Le Petit Ballon, Eyeka, Skimm! and more. And we’ve got 2 more editions lined up for September! Since the event was ever-so-slightly outside of Paris (Ivry-sur-Seine), many people tuned in via live stream to watch. But for anyone who didn’t manage to attend virtually, here’s a quick round up of what happened…
On June 9th, the Economist published an article on how the US government needs to issue more visas to foreign entrepreneurs. The article went on to cite a few examples of countries that are far more welcoming to foreign innovators, including the UK, Chile, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore. Naturally, the US – a country known practically as a country of immigrants – has many foreigners to thank for much of its success stories. But how about France?
In a post I published earlier this week I mentioned that I had the chance to interview my new-found digital heroine, Martha Lane Fox, at LeWeb last week. In addition to co-founding Lastminute.com in 1998 with Brent Hoberman, Martha sits on the board of mydeco.com, Marks & Spencer, Channel 4 and launched Karaoke startup Lucky …
So the last few weeks have been insanely packed in terms of events. Europe’s entrepreneurs have been busy running around to all kinds of events in places like Poland, Portugal, the UK, France, Ireland and more. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the recent events I attended and spoke at, and the next ones to come – including speaking opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Every now and then, European entrepreneurs love to complain about how investors. The typical complaint goes something like this: European VCs are risk-averse, there’s no money on this side of the Atlantic and no European equivalent of Sand Hill Road. But every now and then, entrepreneurs love to innovate their way out of this potential problem.
Yesterday as I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, a rather intriguing status update caught my eye: Twitter lessons by Valérie Trierweiler. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that France’s first lady had done a little Twitter damage by openly supporting Olivier Falorni in the upcoming legislative elections – who is up against the French president’s ex (whom he openly supports), Ségolène Royal.
Earlier this week, something amazing happened in London. Startup Caravan hosted a French startup competition – in London. Yes, London. 10 French startups were picked to hop across the English Channel and pitch for the London tech community. While there are numerous international and pan-European startup competitions that allow startups from wherever to pitch, this was one of the first times a clear effort was made to introduce some of France’s top tech startups to the UK startup crowd.
Prior to the election of French President François Hollande on May 6th, successful French serial entrepreneur and investor, Marc Simoncini, threatened to leave France. Citing various issues primarily with France’s wealth tax (not to be confused with the 75% tax), the founder of Meetic said France could become the last place any entrepreneur would want to be. And guess what – the US press went wild.
As some of you may know, I used to be a very loyal fan of Aardvark. The famous question and answer service launched as “Mechanical Zoo” in 2007 was acquired by Google in 2010 for $50 million and very sadly shut down last year. I used to get some of the most amazing questions from other Aardvark users – including “what time is it now?” and “where is Paris?” – but you can see my all time favorites here.
Recently, I’ve noticed a new flood of negativity building up in Europe’s startup scene. Sure, the Euro isn’t doing particularly well and France (and apparently Will Smith?) is a little uneasy with what François Hollande’s government has in store. And Europe isn’t culturally as over-the-top optimistic as its transatlantic neighbor. Still, sometimes it feels like Europe’s tech scene enjoys a bit of self-bashing, whether it be about entrepreneurs’ incapability to “dream big” or VC’s ROI.