The (new) 13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30

It’s funny – one of the more popular posts that I’ve written on this blog was the 13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30 list. It still gets hits and it was published over a year ago. So I figure it’s time to give it a little update for 2 reasons: first, because some of those people are no longer under 30 and also because there are definitely new names to add to the list! Yes, my friends, there has definitely been a dramatic increase in the number of young entrepreneurs in France. So in no particular order, here comes some names that I feel should be added to the list.

1. Anne-Béatrice Sonnier (MyArchiveBox)

Anne-Béatrice just made the age cut-off but definitely deserves to be on this list. Going against the grain, she made the move from investment to being an entrepreneur in a Katy Turner or Avid Larizadeh type-of-way. With an insanely technical product – digital archiving – she’s managed to launch and run things without a co-founder. Pretty. Impressive. Follower her @annebeatrice

2. Emilie Gobin & Charles Digby-Smith & Vincent Plazen (L’Usine à Design)

To be honest, I can’t really say that I know Emilie’s co-founders as well as I know her. But these 20-something-year-olds are definitely doing a stellar job in a rather hot yet difficult space (remember MyFab?): e-commerce for customized furniture. Her team has already managed to secure over 1 million in financing – plus she’s the one stole the show at our Girls in Tech Lady Pitch Night! Follow the team on Twitter at @enamilys & @charles_ds & @vincentappearstobeMIA (Emilie & Charles pictured)

3. Antonin Chartier & Sacha Bostoni (Jimmy Fairly)

You may think these two are brothers but I can assure you they are not. The beauty behind the story of youngster team Antonin and Sacha is not just that their company was born from Startup Weekend…in TOULOUSE…but that it also managed to secure €200K in just 3 weeks (What? You thought it was hard to get funded in France?). Sacha also left his cushy job at Orange/France-Telecom (somehow still considered one of “THE” companies to work for in France) to live the bootstrapping dream. Love it. Follow the boys @antoninjf@sachabn

4. Arthur Philbé & Florian Galby (Weblib)

How could I not write about a successful team in the Sciences Po Incubator?! I’ve talked about this company before as an innovative way of adapting the “Velib” or bike-rental model to tech. Providing tablets, netbooks, etc. in tons of public locations and businesses, co-founders Arthur and Florian are not at all in an easy business – especially in a world where people usually just turn to their cell phones for internet. Regardless, they have done an amazing job at providing access to a bigger screen in places you would probably want it most. Follow the dynamic duo @floriangalby & @oùestarthur

5. Quentin Reygrobellet & Mathilde Lacombe (Joliebox)

This is the one team on the list where I have not yet had the chance to meet either of the co-founders. That being said, Quentin and Mathilde have been turning heads with their local Birchbox competitor, Joliebox. But not only are they up against the Accel-backed US sensation, locally they compete with Glossybox – founded by Germany’s ruthless Samwer brothers. But according to TechCrunch France readers, these youngsters have a much better product in place! Keep tabs on them @quentinrey@lavieenblonde (Mathilde pictured)

7. Olivier Issaly & Vincent Guth (Owlient)

I mentioned these 20-something-year-old founders at the end of last year’s post. I’m a huge fan of their story and also invited CEO Olivier to speak at our TechCrunch France Remix event last november. Launching the company while in school – the team ultimately said au revoir to their classmates after they realized they were making a proper living with their terrific gaming company. And as if that wasn’t good enough, they were just bought by French gaming giant Ubisoft for an undisclosed amount. Follow the talented team @oissaly & @vingtcent (Olivier pictured)

8. Olivier Desmoulin & Marc Chataigner (Super Marmite)

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and yes, these two names bring us to 14 entrepreneurs and not 13 (oh well). Another team born from Startup Weekend, these guys set out to redefine home cooking made it to the top 3 LeWeb finalists of 2010 after just a few months. Killer. Follow them @odesmoulin & @marcchataigner (image of Olivier pitching at LeWeb)

Honorary: Ismael Nzouetom (I-dispo)

OK, yes, there are many more deserving names that should be on the list. I adore Aurélie Perruche of Likiwi and MaSpatule, the boys at Ykone (as always), Tumbup and a number of other startups. But one entrepreneur that absolutely blew my mind was Ismael Nzouetom of I-dispo. I saw him pitch for the first time at Microsoft Windows Phone 7 app competition (yes, in front of Steve Ballmer & Co.) and I think it was hands down one of the absolute best pitches I have seen in France. He may not have won the app competition that day but he did manage to bring Kima Ventures and Jacques-Antoine Granjon on board as investors. Nice. Keep tabs on him @ismosoft

I love them youngsters.

Before you start thinking that I have some sort of unhealthy interest in young entrepreneurs à la Lewis Caroll, let me explain pourquoi. It’s hard to name the European equivalents of Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Rose and Sean Parker. The job market is more hierarchical so it is harder for young entrepreneurs to gain the credibility they need. Some of the young entrepreneurs we invited to discuss this issue last year at TechCrunch France Remix have incredible first-hand stories of how they had to overcome this situation. Many people would argue that young entrepreneurs have it easy because it is “easiest” to get into the startup world when you are fresh out of school with no expectations – but there are other challenges that youngsters have to face that someone with more experience and a developed network may not. And to top it all off, these kids are the ones that are really changing the local face of the startup scene and making it seem cool to have a startup.

Oh, Peter Thiel.

I’ve mentioned before how I feel about the French educational system and its impact on failure. And I don’t expect things to change over night. Entrepreneurs have certain character traits that may be easier to develop at a younger age. While there are mixed opinion’s of Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20 program, I do think that it is nice to have programs like these to give young people the option of going into entrepreneurship – especially in a country that still has a very traditional approach to education. I would love to see more programs fostering and supporting young entrepreneurs throughout Europe.

If you know of a young European entrepreneur that deserves a little credit, feel free to mention it in the comments or shoot me an email.

8 thoughts on “The (new) 13 hot French entrepreneurs under 30

  1. Thanks Roxane for adding me to this list and for your compliments. I meet many excellent young entrepreneurs every week that deserve to be on the list.

    I also wanted to note that I-DISPO is made possible with a great team of 5 others associates that make all of this happened : Sylviane Kamga, Laurent Lecoeur, Abdou Diop, Nicolas Nekrouf and Michel Rotteleur.

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  3. nice list, but I think that entrepreneurs who created a successful fast growing business without fundraising before several million euros revenue are much hotter than the ones who raise 200K in 3 weeks (good job done though !)…

  4. Hello Roxane,

    Those lists will inevitably bring critics and all… I think it’s good and fun to have those kinds of lists once in a while, but i think you should also have other lists than “young and hot” entrepreneurs (ilf you really want to make lists).

    You meet tons of us entrepreneurs, so i’m sure you are more than aware of the difficulty of building a company.
    Getting cool ideas and getting fund by [fill in the blank] hot VC is cool, but I see names in your list and other similar lists and i still wonder : how on earth are these people are going to make any money ? Maybe I just don’t get it, but i’ve heard and seen pitching a few companies that you talk about, and I still don’t know how they seriously plan to make money.

    I mean, the one and only goal of a company is to be sustainable right ? You can have fun and look cool and be young and hot along the way, that’s not a problem at all. But getting funded by X or Y doesn’t mean anything : you know better than me that VCs put their money into 50 companies hoping that only one will sell to other VCs, or go public.
    When you raise money, you let go of your shares, and according to your deal terms, you might as well get fired by your VCs a year after they jumped on your ship if you don’t achive the goals. Please talk about how many customers they have rather than how much money they raised. It can be 20 or 100 customers in 2 days or in 3 weeks, it doesn’t matter : it just shows that somebody’s project is on its way to become a real company. I think these are good examples to showcase.

    Don’t get me wrong, i wish the people from your list do make money. But not (only) for themselves when they sell their shares. I wish they build sustainable companies that provide jobs to other people that will someday say “i work for this start-up, i love this and i want to build my own company now !”. I’m sure that’s what they want to do, but this article only reflects the coolness and raising-abilities they have.

    Showing the fun and cool part is important, because if you build your company and you’re as bored as when you work for Fortune100 companies, then there’s no point doing it.

    I just think you should also take some time to try and find companies that might not be as hot as most faces we see. Mixergy.com for example does an amazing (i mean amaaazing) job at interviewing people that might not appear on Techcrunch every two days and still making tons of money for their company ($300K in revenues for a lone entrepreneur who’s running a single website is, for example, absolutely amazing to me). Their insights about how hard it is, how fun it is, how patient you must be, and real and concrete ways to make money once your start-up is set up are invaluable. Why don’t we only (or least mostly) have articles about “we have to talk about the next frenck Zuckerberg” in France ?

  5. Hi Julien

    thanks for your comments. FYI I have done lists on subjects other than “young and hot” (ive done best french bloggers, business angels, etc).

    I clearly state in the post why I want to give youngsters visibility and why I have chosen these ones for this list. None of my reasons are based on 1 VC alone. These are all entrepreneurs I respect and businesses I like. And I naturally welcome suggestions for people to add.

    Many of the business models used by these entrepreneurs are e-commerce or e-commerce related. And some are virtual goods and others are Subscription or freemium. Maybe some are more evidently successful than others but they all have more or less some type of model in place.

    So even if theyre not valued at 10 billion, they are doing a phenomenal job innovating or offering a product and I believe they deserve recognition. Naturally many other entrepreneurs out there do too, so thanks for the Mixergy suggestion.

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