13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30

I’ve been wanting to do a post on this topic for a while – because whenever someone tells me that it’s insanely difficult to launch a start-up in France, I chuckle to myself and think: “Hey, if 20-something-year-olds are doing it fresh out of school, it can’t be that hard, right?” I also have recently noticed that becoming an entrepreneur from a young age is becoming more à la mode – so here is my list to set the record straight.

Hot or not?

The trouble is there are actually a lot of young entrepreneurs out there. This list is insanely far from exhaustive and is just a few names that I think are likely to stick around for a while. As the entrepreneurial community is predominantly male, I should also probably clarify that by “hot”  I am referring strictly to their start-ups. After all, this is not my attempt to be the Franco-version of Valleywag. PS. You’ll notice that I’ve chosen 8 companies and 13 names.

1. Jonathan Benassaya & Daniel Marhely (Deezer).

The Deezer boys are behind one of the hottest – if not the hottest – online music company to come out of France. While they are still incredibly young, Daniel (25) and Jonathan (29) kicked off their entrepreneurial careers in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Yep, Daniel was still a teenager at the time.

2. Eric Bennephtali (MediaStay).

As the story goes, this 26 year old started his internet career in middle school. He then went on to drop out of school at the age of 13 to launch the internet performance marketing company we currently know as MediaStay – which is also the publisher of games sites like Kingolotto and Grattages. Yes, that makes another one for the drop-out club!

3. Ronan Pelloux & Julien Mechin (Creads).

The 25-year-old team is behind the online participative ad and logo creative platform, Creads, that gives internet allstar Gilles Babinet’s Eyeka a run for its money. Oh, and the 2-year-old company already counts international offices in Spain and Japan.

4. Simon Istolainen (PeopleforCinema, MyMajorCompany, Architurn…).

Yes, he’s been an entrepreneur since 2008 and the 25-year-old is already on his 3rd company (he just announced Architurn, after MyMajorCompany and PeopleforCinema). The participative investment platform model seems to have been very good to him, in both the music and film distribution spaces. But my favorite part about this kid’s success story is that he studied the farthest thing from entrepreneurship and tech in school: that’s right, anthropology.

5. Céline Lazorthes (Leetchi).

Leetchi is the first company of this 27-year-old lady and she’s already got big names like Oleg Tscheltzoff, Jérémie Berrebi and Xavier Niel backing her platform for group gift purchases. Nice.

6. Stéphanie Pelprat (Restopolitan).

The 26-year-old founder of a French company, Restopolitan, that dares to compete with OpenTable has entrepreneurial energy spewing from her veins. As she’s got a few more tricks up her sleeve, she’s not likely to disappear.

7. Boris Saragaglia, Paul Lorne, Jérémie Touchard (Spartoo).

The Spartoo trio (Boris pictured) started right out of school, back in 2006, when the sum of their ages was less than 75 (I’ll let you figure this one out). Today Boris (27), Paul and Jérémie run the très successful French/European equivalent to Zappos. These kiddies also scored €12 million in January. Hello, Jeff Bezos?

8. Hadrien Gardeur & Loic Roussel (Feedbooks).

The 26-year-old team (Hadrien pictured) started their digital publishing/distribution platform, Feedbooks, back in 2007 with a very international vision. The company definitely knows what it’s doing in the English-speaking market, as does Hadrien who is brilliantly bilingual.

More than Mark Zuckerberg.

There are definitely numerous companies that I could add including the boys at Owlient, Ykone, Cafédelabourse or the coed team over at Likiwi. And another one that almost made the list: Benjamin Bejbaum from DailyMotion. Feel free to add more youngster entrepreneur names that come to mind in the comments.

21 thoughts on “13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30

  1. Hello,

    I would add :

    – Thibaud ELZIERE, founder of Fotolia, Zijob, Ziloc, Venteparfaite
    – Julien Romanetto, founder of Overblog and Nomao


  2. I would add Flockall.com to that list as well. It is in active beta testing and is the sweetest social marketplace I have ever seen.

  3. It’s a pleasure to read from somebody who cares about young french entrepreneurs. Thanks for them!! (unfortunately, i’m not a part of them any more :))

  4. @Marc – thank you for the terrific suggestions and comments – as I said, the list is not exhaustive so there is definitely room to add more!

    @Jerry, I’m not certain your suggestion is really in-line with the topic of this particular post.

    @Frederic, I didn’t know you weren’t French anymore. :p

  5. Roxanna Please don’t chuckle too much.
    Creating a start up in France is not difficult. That’s just time and (an incredible amount of) paperwork.

    What is difficult in France is running the business.
    France legislation makes it very risky for a start-up with limited resources or any small business for that matter, to hire someone.
    The legislation is fine for “bigger” companies (i.e. over 100 employees) but totally absurd for start ups.

    However you’re right in saying there are a lot of good energy around here.

  6. @Alexis – I definitely know about the legislative aspect – and it is obviously what I was referring to! Since obviously it applies to everyone (and as you mentioned, smaller start-ups especially) I chuckle when I realize it doesn’t even stop young entrepreneurs from starting great companies. I hope this was clear…

  7. I would also add Warren Barthes, the CEO of PhoneAndPhone who started selling phones at 16 (I think he’s 26 now) and who is doing astonishingly well in such a tough business.

    In the seed category : add Anji Ismaïl and Faouzi El Yagoubi (both 24), the founders of CapSEO (SEO platform)

  8. Pingback: Le réseau international de jeunes entrepreneurs Sandbox se lance en France

  9. J’ai essayé la carte Restopolitan, j’ai été très déçu du restaurant qui était vraiment dégueulasse. D’autre part, la relation avec l’équipe Restopolitan a été désagréable lorsque je demandais des informations… A méditer…

    • Bonjour Jean,

      Nous sommes désolés si vous avez eu une mauvaise expérience avec un de nos restaurants partenaires, sachez que nous attachons pourtant beaucoup d’importance à la sélection de ces derniers, et il doit s’agir là d’une exception.

      Nous recensons 350 établissements, et nous serions ravis de vous offrir une prolongation d’un mois supplémentaire sur votre Carte pour vous permettre d’en tester d’autres.

      Vous pouvez nous contacter à contact[@]restopolitan.com en indiquant votre numéro de Carte afin que nous fassions le necessaire,

      Bonne journée,

      L’Equipe Restopolitan

  10. Bonjour Roxanne,

    Un grand merci pour votre soutien auprès des créateurs. On se sent un peu moins seul. Je serai ravi de vous donner quelques informations sur une start-up Française créée il y 6 semaines. Stereogram se positionne comme un intégrateur de solution 3D Auto-Stéréoscopique auprès des entreprises et des institutions. Nous sommes à la recherche de locaux pour établir notre QG sur Paris, RP (Bureau + show room). Avis au réseau. Merci. Vincent.

  11. Pingback: The (new) 13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30 « TechBaguette

  12. Pingback: The 2012 list: 13 Hot French Entrepreneurs Under 30 « TechBaguette

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