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On Monday 28 May, 10 innovative French start-ups came to London to meet with investors and entrepreneurs, and to pitch at the Digital Shoreditch festival.

The first session in the day-long event looked at UK-based investors’ perception of French start-ups – most have seldom bothered to invest there. “Last year, I had a deal flow of several thousand start-ups”, said Stefan Glaenzer, founder of Passion Capital. “Of those, I only saw two based in France”. This is partly because French start-ups lack the reflex of seeking foreign investment. But France’s public investment in start-ups also has the effect of ‘crowding out’ external investors: as Sitar Teli from Doughty Hanson explained, “they will offer terms to start-ups at valuations that are way too high and start-ups will – justifiably – accept our funds only if we match that valuation.”

The panel also offered the start-ups some tips on approaching investors: ‘“I look for the cross between passion and intelligence, for someone who believes like no one in their project and manages every number”, said Sean Seton-Roger from ProFounders.

The event gave an opportunity to show how innovative and outward-looking French start-ups can be. Patrick Perlmutter from Infinit, a disruptive cloud-computing startup, believes “our product is global: we could be anywhere – but we like being in France where we can be close to affordable, high quality talent.” Attendees were impressed by the quality of the founders and start-ups on show, and saw that there was much more happening in the Paris start-up scene than they might have thought.

In the afternoon the start-ups visited the Digital Shoreditch festival, and were hosted by UKTI and London & Partners. They gave a pitch to a larger audience, then answered their questions. “Funny that some criticize European startups. Just saw 5 of the best pitches I’ve seen recently from #startupcaravan France. Nice“, tweeted Paul Murphy (‏@paulbz), COO at Aviary and “casual investor”. You can find an online debrief of the talks at TechBaguette, published by our moderator, Roxanne Varza.

Roxanne and the panel of startups at the Digital Shoreditch Festival

The event also opened the eyes of some of the start-ups to the opportunity of leveraging London’s resources (a mere two hours away by Eurostar). “This morning has got my mind racing about opening an office here. I think we could really gain a lot from having a presence in London”, said Baptiste Broughton, founder of Neo-nomade.

 

The Startup Caravan was set up by four groups of young entrepreneurs and digital professionals: LeBridge, French Digital London, FrogValley and the Chair of Entrepreneurship ESCP Europe. Its aim is to connect the European start-up ecosystems, creating a ground-breaking scene that can rival Silicon Valley. Given reactions from both sides of the Channel, it seems we have made a solid step towards this ambitious goal.
startupcaravan.eu _ #startupcaravan

More about the Caravaners:

La Ruche Qui Dit Oui A platform for users to create consumer communities who can purchase agricultural products directly from the producers at a fraction of retail cost. website

Infinit A private cloud solution that allows access to all of your data across all of your devices, anywhere, anytime. website

Ma Madeleine A simple QR-code solution to connect any real-world object to the web. website

Skimm! A disruptive, entirely software-based mobile payment system that enables its users to pay in participating stores, redeem promotional coupons and process user-to-user transactions. website

Neo-nomade The first search engine for work spaces. The company provides a mobile app showing all the co-working space, wifi cafés, and business centres near your location, and that have been vetted by the community. website

Everfeel An Emotion On Demand social platform for improv games that is paving the way for a new kind of entertainment. website

ForgetBox A tool to send files (documents, pictures and video), really easily, with no limitations of size and without waiting. website

Chauffeur-privé A mobile app that allows users to order a private car with a driver, straight from their smartphone. website

Moodstocks An API and SDKs to build magical image recognition apps. website

Social Folders Syncs Your Facebook pics, Google Docs, and other online media with your desktop. website

This event was co-organised by Le Bridge, French Digital London, Frog Valley, and the Chair of Entrepreneurship ESCP Europe and sponsored by Google and Eurostar

About French Digital London:
French Digital London brings together the community of French/Francophile/Francophone professionals involved in the digital industry in and around London. We help businesses and individuals based in and visiting London, develop networks, share ideas and create opportunities. Recently launched we have grown from a core group of professionals in the mobile industry, to more than 250 people working for agencies, brands, startups and more. We organise regular meetups and events. Follow us on twitter:@FrenchDigital

About Le Bridge:
LeBridge is a not-for-profit aiming to connect the European startup scenes. We know that Berlin has world-class designers, that London is home to leading media innovation and venture capital, that Warsaw has some of the best developers – but all of these ecosystems are siloed. At LeBridge our mission is to fix this – we want European startups to be just that: European. The Startup Caravan aims to increase interactions between European ecosystems, starting with the Paris and London startup scenes – and it is just the start!

About Frog Valley:
Created in 2010, Frog Valley is the blog and network for French entrepreneurs in the UK. We are the team behind the Apéro Entrepreneurs in London for the past two years, we have also organised panels, events and focus groups in collaboration with organisations such as London Business School and Rovio. Our objective is to promote French startups in the UK and help their business grow.

About ESCP Europe:
ESCP Europe (www.escpeurope.eu) is both a high-level school of management and a large-scale European institution with its 5 campuses in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid and Torino. Founded in 1819, ESCP Europe is the oldest business school in the world. The Chair of Entrepreneurship helps (since 2007) young entrepreneurs and recent creators to develop projects and partnerships around Europe. Incubation, accelerators, events and Master Programs happen throughout the year.
Follow us on Twitter: @chaireEEE