Paris has been typecast as the city of love for way too long. If business growth is any indicator, the French capital has over 12,000 start-ups trading and growing, with the likes of BlaBlaCar and Criteo making waves internationally as bonafide unicorns. But what about early-stage tech start-ups?
Partech Ventures, a Silicon Valley based global investment firm, was set up in 1982 with a keen interest in digital and new technologies in Paris, Berlin and San Francisco.
The firm has backed companies like next-generation insurance start-up Alan, the ApolloShield anti-drone system, the blockchain-based start-up Atlas.money, autonomous vehicle company, BestMile, e-commerce drone delivery start-up, Flirtey, connected medicine business, Push Doctor, virtual reality-based Resolution Games, and flying water taxi company, SeaBubbles.
In 2014, the investment fund launched Partech Shaker to support the growing French tech ecosystem, as both a workspace and a hub for collaboration and digital transformation.
Now, the start-up campus houses major American tech firms like Dropbox and Pinterest, and European brands like Influans, Kantox, Made.com and WINGiT. Since 2016, its Europe Made Easy programme has helped ease the entry and expansion of foreign tech companies into the French market. Today, Partech Shaker announced that it will host the first Techstars accelerator programme in France, carrying on the American accelerator’s tradition of scaling up growth businesses through a 13-week bootcamp. Only 1 per cent of the world’s best make it through to the Techstars programme, and the French edition will see Deliveroo founder William Shu, and CTO Mike Hudack, as well as HelloFresh CTO Nuno Simaria, work with the selected early-stage start-ups.
We speak to Partech Shaker managing director, Marie Raicharg on why Paris is thriving for start-ups, and what lies ahead for the start-up campus.
What are the top three things you look for when backing a business, and why?
At the Partech Shaker, we don’t take equity at all, start-ups and scale-ups working from here are our clients. We offer them a huge business network, visibility, perks and a place to grow their business in the best possible conditions.
The top three things we consider when selecting new start-ups to integrate into our campus are:
1) Maturity of the business and tech focus: most of the companies we host are business-ready, all are tech companies.
2) Mindset of the team: we are a place but also a community and network. We want companies interested in growing through collaboration and willing to learn from one another.
3) International ambition: as an initiative of an international VC firm, we think global and help companies do the same. Let me specify that our campus is open to any start-up, not only those backed by Partech Ventures.
What about UK start-ups?
Today we are announcing the launch of Techstars Paris but our international focus is in our DNA. Last year, Partech Shaker launched its Europe Made Easy programme. We were the first player to launch a soft-landing programme dedicated to non-French companies willing to develop their business in Europe, from Paris. Post Brexit, we can see a growing interest of UK startups in Paris, and we are able to address the specific needs of a tech company landing in France. Actually, we already host two tech stars from the UK: Kantox and Made.com.
What makes Paris unique as a start-up hub?
Paris has become a very relevant place to launch and develop tech companies both at the early pre-launch stages and later on, to help grow the business. Some of the strong points of Paris include:
French talent – especially in engineering.
They are among some of the best in the world and they are more loyal and less expensive in France than in the US for instance.
Paris and tech go together
Paris has become a strong tech hub offering a lot of incubation and acceleration programmes, co-working spaces, and business networks to tech founders. There are more than 12000 startups in the Paris region and there is also a growing number of repeat entrepreneurs willing to reinvest and to mentor.
France offers a lot of options for innovative tech companies to get public funding and tax reductions at various stages.
Money is available
France has been the first country in Europe in terms of number of investment deals in tech in 2016, according to the Tech.eu European Tech Funding Report 2016. The amount of money raised by tech companies grew by 22 per cent in 2016, as seen in a separate report by Clipperton + Digimind.
Paris is the first European city for the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters
…And French large corporations are more and more interested in doing business with start-ups. Most of them have understood the challenges and differences between their organisations and are starting to work on a true win-win basis.
Easy to expand internationally
Last but not least, Paris has a unique location in Europe and its powerful transportation network makes it a very relevant place to expand across the whole continent. Several tech companies run their European operations from the Partech Shaker, such as HotelTonight and Hired.com.