#ReviensLéon : Let Them Live Abroad

Disclaimer: This article is my own personal opinion and is meant in no way to criticize or judge the startups or founders involved in #ReviensLéon. It is also in no way meant to discourage anyone who wishes to come back to France or to become a Léon from doing so. It is simply offering a different perspective of the initiative. I am a huge supporter of all the startups and people involved in Reviens Léon and I would have been at the launch event if I was not on a trip.

Yesterday morning, 10 of France’s promising startups announced the launch of a new initiative: Reviens Léon. This campaign – which makes a reference to a 1985 ravioli commercial (below) – strives to encourage French expatriates living and working abroad to come back and work for France’s budding tech ecosystem. The Reviens Leon website – backed by startups like Blablacar, Sigfox, La Fourchette, Showroomprivé and more – includes numerous job offers, and mentions an organization that will also help to navigate the administrative ” jungle” for those that want to return.



My first reaction when I heard about this initiative was nothing shy of “WTF?” After all, I’m not HR expert, but it seems far more efficient for these startups to try and court people who are dying to come to France rather than those who were willing to leave. But that’s just my naive view of the subject. But I can say that as an American living abroad, I would be incredibly annoyed if the US tried to get me to come home and thought that the argument could simply be boiled down to job offers and taxes. Many who leave their country are seeking great opportunities, yes, but it’s likely they may be seeking more. And what’s the harm in having brilliant French people living abroad? Isn’t that great for the country’s international image, too (well, if they would stop shit-talking France that would help)? But honestly, I say #letthemliveabroad.

Igor Tweet

An expatriate in Japan says the offers aren’t that appealing to him. 


I saw a great comment on Facebook in regards to the topic that I think captures my sentiment perfectly:


Translation: “When will we see the campaign #BienvenuLéon? To support the thousands of qualified people that want to come work in France?”

I find it just incredible that France repeatedly focuses all its energy on those who leave or have left, rather than trying to help those that want to come. It’s almost like someone who can’t get over a break-up (sorry for the horrible analogy). By focusing on those who left we are still pointing to the fact that they left in the first place. If we want to completely turn the page, we should stop looking back and just move on. I wrote an article in Tech.eu in March 2014 on how France was overly-obsessed with entrepreneurs who had decided to leave instead of focusing on the incredible in-coming talent from other backgrounds and countries. Recently I felt that we had started to see progress with the launch of the Paris French Tech Ticket, essentially a pack for foreign entrepreneurs who want to come and work in Paris (let’s just call it a step in the right direction). Yet, we’re still spending energy and resources on those who left. Come on guys, get over it.

2 thoughts on “#ReviensLéon : Let Them Live Abroad

  1. Hello Roxanne, You are so right. And let me tell You why by sharing my personal Journey as a Media Entrepreneur.
    Why do I think that #ReviensLeon movement isnt relevant to me and simply doesnt speak to me?

    As a free-lance fashion Journalist/Editor turned Entrepreneur/Editor Iam in a process of creating a Media Start-up: an online magazine and premier online destination for Everything Digital Luxury, Fashion Tech, Beauty Apps, Travel & Lifestyle Start-ups. Basically as I live in Paris of course I wanted to start my company here. But I changed my mind when I realized that in my sector (Fashion and Luxury) and field (Digital Influencers) France wasn’t the best fit. Obviously France is internationally known for its Luxury Brands and Savoir Faire, and Paris is one of the Leading Fashion Capitals and Fashion Week;But the Women in Digital, Digital Influencers, Audience, Community we target, are mainly in US and UK. So am I going to stay in Paris because of #ReviensLeon movement ? Absolulety Not. I Will certainly work with a Paris based agency with an expertise in digital marketing and data with premium high brands.
    But I wont create my Media here.
    Because here Iam talking specifically from&about the sector/industry question and point of view.

    For instance, LA is the new Capital of Digital Influencers from Art, fashion, Media, entertainment …and a city of technology #SiliconBeachLA living an exciting moment. #SnapchatEffect i guess 😉
    London, Tech city is the 1st Capital for Digital Luxury and not only.

    We need to speak more accordingly to sectors, industries’ matters because On one hand I haven’t seen yet an incubator, accelerator here in Paris with a media or digital Luxury expertise to support Startups like mine. In digital Luxury as well as Media sectors We need experts. Just Found Only One contest for Media Startups exists : Les Têtes Chercheuses in Lyon organized by Club Lyon whose 1st edition will be held in July. Organized by Journalists for and to support Entrepreneurship in Journalism. On the other hand We have multiples FashionTech & Digital Luxury events, conferences, and even the very 1st Start Up program in Fashion Tech has been created by IFM School.

    This is why I look up to LA or London.

    Those who leave know why they leave. If an entrepreneur doesnt find business opportunities his target expertise the right ecosystem here to achieve his/her goals he/she wont stay and certainly wont even come back.
    Thats what I wanted to add to what You brilliantly said before. Because Its something that lacks in France. To me We have in France a wonderful and exciting ecosystem but it seems that FrenchTech is more focused on hardware makers mobile apps ecommerce projects than creative projects. A great example to follow is Crowfunding plateform Kickstarter that aim to support creatives in Tech : from Art Journalism Film …. I wish this will be the case inside FrenchTech too.
    Just read this article from L’Obs stating that Paris is a Start up Paradise : High-tech Fintech Biotech Green Tech http://m.nouvelobs.com/article/20150519.OBS9205/la-france-paradis-des-start-ups.html#http://t.co/fEz7sE3ua9 .. Unfortunately No fashiontech mentioned We are late for Digital & Luxury… Obviously there’s still a lot of work.
    To be continued.

  2. From an outsider’s point of view, I have been marvelling at this lately. Especially as we navigate the system in setting up here in France, coming from Australia in particular.

    We are the first international startup to join the NUMA Sprint Accelerator, formerly called Le Camping, and we are currently settling in to our new home and coming up to speed on the political and social climate. Of which we are constantly amazed at the gaze being locked on departing French projects rather than arriving foreigners bringing not only jobs, but existing investment/VC funding. Like us.

    There’s a very real reason why we are here, and we are still being chased and tempted by government offers in London, in New York, in Singapore, etc. Entire government teams set up just to get startups like ours to settle in countries like theirs. To be fair, France has been welcoming to us, but I would agree that the focus needs to shift from saying “come home” to French startups, to “Europe starts here” to foreigners like us.

    The French Tech Ticket looks great, and I wish that was existing right now. We could use the help – specifically with apartment hunting and visas. Especially where founders are likely to establish cross-national teams and travel a lot. Being able to arrive and get to work immediately would be amazing, but we’ve lost a lot of time bouncing between Airbnbs and other founder’s couches while getting the paperwork and guarantees together for landlords. Not something easily solved, but quicker visa handling and a recognition of the gap we fill in the economy would be useful.

    Now of course, there’s some in Australia wondering why we leave, but they are also excited that we are experiencing global entrepreneurship in what is a global tech community. That we provide expertise and inspiration for the startups emerging in Australia is only a good thing. Departed projects become ambassadors, and the global tech community can only benefit from diversity (of all kinds). And yes, thanks for welcoming us France, we are happy to be here.

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