Last week effy was in Paris as part of a Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Exchange in association with NUMA. So what happens when you put eight tech startups from around the world together for a week and fuel them with copious amounts of coffee?
Firstly, what is a Google for Entrepreneur tech exchange and what is NUMA?
We all know that Google has long been a supporter of startups. To help startups shape the future Google has since 2011 launched Campuses and formed partnerships that support entrepreneurs across 125 countries. These campuses and partnerships allow entrepreneurs to learn, connect, and create companies that will change the world. For example Dogpatch Labs in Dublin is one of the tech hub partners of Google for Entrepreneurs.
One such partnership is with NUMA. NUMA unlocks the potential of emerging ecosystems worldwide through innovation and smart connections. They accelerate startups, corporates and communities internationally. NUMA Paris is where this tech exchange took place and became effy’s base for the week. The tech exchange consisted of eight startups; four for a smart city exchange and four for a retail tech exchange which is the programme effy took place on.
Our Programme – Israel, Ireland & the US!
effy was one of four global retail tech startups chosen for the retail tech exchange programme. We were joined by other startups coming from Israel and the US. It was great to meet such varied startups, cultures, and backgrounds to discuss our own stories, findings, successes and short comings to date. We were all united with a common purpose, to succeed and to learn!
Completing an accelerator is a challenge in itself, but to condense one down to a week is an even bigger challenge. Here’s some of our highlights from the week!
The Future of Retail – Frederic Genta – Industry Head Retail at Google France
We were honoured to receive a talk from Frederic Genta about where Google sees the future of retail. While there was mention of everything from drones and 3D printing to connected objects and IoT Google did not see these as major threats to the retail industry. The biggest changer in the retail industry is as obvious as it may seem – the customers. The customer is becoming more and more augmented because of the smartphone. Not because of the smartphones ability to connect with objects or for marketing purposes, but because it’s a tool the customer can leverage. The smartphone gives the customer so much information that they often become more knowledgable than the staff. The smartphone has transformed the traditional customer journey into one of micro-moments. The ability to capture these micro-moments is where retailers need to excel in order to be the best. Micro-moments include a ‘I want to’ moment such as I want to:
You have to be ready to capture they’re moment and how to do that is where the real innovation is!
Check out this video on micro moments!
Visit Forum des Halles Mall with Unibail Rodamco
We were fortunate enough to be given a tour around Forum des Halles which is being built by Unibail Rodamco. Forum des Halles is a newly renovated shopping centre due to open on April 6th 2016. We got a behind the scenes tour of the shopping centre before it opened to see how it is embracing technology and innovation. This technology and innovation is not only for the shopping centre, but for its occupants also. Seeing how innovative structural design and technology infrastructure being put in place by Unibail Rodamco into shopping centres to draw occupants is a reassuring sign that the retail market is aware of the impact of innovation on it and how embracing it in all its forms will pay dividends for all those involved.
B2B Prospection with Tanguy Tallon CEO at BIM
Learning how to effectively target your customers is a critical element to startup success. With each new market comes a set of new challenges on how to do it in terms of avenues to explore and cultures to be mindful of. We got not one, but two sit downs with Tanguy Tallon on how best to do this in France. He helped us develop a tailored B2B pitch deck that relays our mission, vision, key features, offerings and of course value proposition with credibility and legitimacy. Doing all this in a clear, concise and in a manner that is easy to digest is an art, and one Tanguy has mastered!
How to scale up – BlaBlaCar with Nicolas Brusson Co-founder & COO
BlaBlaCar is the long-distance car-pooling firm founded in France. It’s not yet in Ireland yet but is hailed as one of Europes ‘Unicorns’ with a billion dollar evaluation. Over 10 million people use BlaBlaCar every quarter creating an entirely new, people powered, transport network. BlablaCar boasts powerful metrics such as having 5 million members in 22 countries sharing over 3 billion miles and saving an estimated £216 million saved by our drivers every year. COO Nicolas shared his learning in building and scaling the company. His learning included embracing the grind, the sacrifice, the serendipity, the nights of no sleep, and of course the wins. Like all unicorns they’re not an overnight success and its important to remember that success takes time, a lot of time in fact! But, when you stick with and overcome the barriers the rewards will be there.
One afternoon we had speed mentoring. We were totally submerged into the Paris ecosystem as we got one on one time with an array of experts in the Paris ecosystem. These experts ranged from SEO/SEM gurus, PR agencies, successful entrepreneurs and media agencies. With the mini madness it was great to see our pitching practice come in handy and indeed are B2B workshop mentioned above. We were quickly able to describe the problem we were solving, our stage and value proposition and then soak up the expertise on how to capitalize on our solution, stage and vision in the French market.
Learning by Osmosis
While all the above was invaluable learning to effy we did learn an awful lot by osmosis. Being surrounded by startups when you’re a startup is a very captivating feeling. There’s a sense of understanding, comfort, security, pride and constant energy! It’s difficult to explain, but by being on the same journey and sharing individual learnings and war stories you develop a close bond amongst your peers. This sharing lends itself into a deep learning that manifests itself naturally into your own startup.
So, the end result…?
Simple – a lot of fun filled learning, new lasting and meaningful connections and a fresh mindset to build, grow and succeed. Programmes like this give you a helicopter view of your startup from multiple perspectives. With these perspectives comes new understandings, strategies and unanswered questions that now need to be answered and perhaps implemented into our startup.
When in Paris!
While our spare time was scarce we did allow ourselves some tourist time. It would be a shame not to, especially getting a selfie with the Eiffel Tower!
effy would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Google for Entrepreneurs and NUMA for this amazing opportunity and learning! A big thank you also to Enterprise Ireland Paris for their support during our visit. And last but not least our biggest thanks to Mr Olivier Sabatier for pulling together such a fantastic programme and making sure we were well looked after throughout!