â€œThe Soft Landing project was such a fantastic opportunity to discover everything you need to know about the exciting French startup ecosystem inside-out, to meet incredible ecosystem leaders, VCâ€™s and established entrepreneurs. This program allows you to feel the flavour of the foreign startup ecosystem and bring the experience to your local communities.Valuable knowledge, great connections and incredible IMT Starter Team is what makes this Mission unforgettable.â€â€“ Mia Rakocevic
Diving into the Ecosystem
France is now a big contributor to the digital ecosystem. Not so long ago, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron envisioned France to be a startup country, contributing to its digital economy. Now, Paris is the leading city in Europe for the number of Fortune 500 headquarters and third worldwide, and its ecosystem is becoming more attractive to international startups.Moreover, with access to +700k students in higher education and being a European leader in R&D with an investment of 18.5 billion euros annually, the Paris region has become a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, technology geeks and policymakers. Correspondingly, Paris has become an attraction to many international startups because of its well-developed venture capital industry as well as the governmentâ€™s help in investment,Â BPI Francebeing the most active VC in Europe.
A week with the delegation
After more than 100 applications and +100 hours of interviews and selection process, on 13th May, we finally welcomed the delegation of 24 participants from all over the world. A diverse delegation of startups that are in the industry like augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, mobility, smart cities, transportation, e-commerce and mobile workforce, as well as the ecosystem contributors like VCs, managers, government representative and leaders, were the participants of the Soft-Landing mission to Paris.
The delegation was welcomed by IMT Starter presenting their 20 years of experience in the French Digital Ecosystem in its office and later took part in the Ice-Breaker workshop where they talked about their work and profile. The first day continued with the campus visit (IMT Starter ecosystem is located on the campus of 2 schools, engineering and business management) and ended with a quick pitching session from all startups.
On day 2 and 3, the delegation met the major players of the Parisian ecosystem. The panel of investors fromÂ Elaia,Â BreegaandÂ BPI FranceÂ gave their insights on the French investment market. The participants also met a representative ofLa French Tech, a government initiative to help international startups grow in the French market, who shared the required information needed to enter the market and how theÂ French Tech VisaÂ for startups works.
Furthermore, the participants also met some successful entrepreneurs who shared their startup stories. Julien Coulon, a serial entrepreneur who created Cedexis, the â€œWaze of the internetâ€ in 2009, shared his first-hand experience.
On the same day, the delegation was welcomed at the office ofÂ Paris Region Enterprises, a business and innovation catalyst helping international companies to scale in the Paris region. Followed by a presentation of an overview of startup activities in the Paris region, Thierry Louvet explained the key activities ofÂ Systematic, a connected network of +800 industry leaders and entrepreneurs. Similarly,Â WILCO, one of the biggest startup accelerators of France presented their unique methodology to help startups grow in one of the most dynamic ecosystems of the world.
VivaTech, Europeâ€™s biggest tech event was accessible to our participants where they spent the whole day on conferences, meeting and other activities.
The final day of Soft-Landing was dedicated to startups. They spent the day with a closed panel of mentors and successful entrepreneurs to discuss their startup strategy and to be challenged on their project.
â€œIn retrospect, it was extremely valuable for us. We had some doubts beforehand since 5 days is a big-time investment for us, but I wouldâ€™ve kicked myself if we didnâ€™t participate. The mentors you guys have in your network are amazing. We donâ€™t get the chance to talk to such people. We learned a ton & there is some investment potential as well. You organized the program in a very smooth way and provided all the necessary information.â€â€Šâ€”â€ŠVorwÃ¤rts
Thank you all the Soft-Landers in participating and making this mission a big success!
By Niraj Karmacharya, Project Manager atÂ IMT Starter
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