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The Parisian ecosystem of start-ups

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Gone are the days when all the worthy startups were born in the United States, or, more precisely, in Silicon Valley. Today, strong and thriving ecosystems have developed all over the world. The "Startup Genome has compiled and analyzed data from 50,000 young shoots to assess the maturity of the most active areas, including Paris... And the results from the French capital, which are sometimes surprising, may help to put some preconceived ideas into perspective and, above all, could help to focus improvement efforts on proven weaknesses.

First lesson from the global index, which compares the twenty main ecosystems in the world: Paris obtains a relatively good eleventh place in the overall ranking, which, excluding North America (largely dominant), becomes a third place, behind Tel Aviv and London, but ahead of Berlin, Sydney, etc.

A closer look at the evaluation criteria reveals that the main quality of Parisian startups is their "performance", as measured by income, job creation, growth, etc. Next comes the "support network", essentially materialized by a rich and easily accessible range of services (whereas, in the same field, mentoring opportunities and the variety of funding sources leave something to be desired).

On the other hand, the first weakness identified relates to the "talent" of entrepreneurs: their youth, inexperience, lack of expertise, among others, place them near the bottom of the table. Another notable handicap is that they are not particularly inclined to quickly adopt the latest technologies, management techniques or business models. This could be particularly worrying since, for the authors of the study, this criterion would be a good indicator of future success (on which Sydney and Berlin stand out).

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The detailed profile of the Parisian ecosystem shows a broad similarity with that of Silicon Valley, with a few gaping points of divergence, which certainly explain the weaknesses cited above. For example, far fewer entrepreneurs in France have several start-ups to their credit, hence their lack of experience. Almost caricatured, the comparison of motivations on either side of the Atlantic seems to me to be quite characteristic of France: our compatriots are primarily interested in "creating a product" and are much less interested in changing the world ...

Incidentally, the proximity of the profiles between Paris and Silicon Valley is not necessarily to be considered an advantage. Indeed, the study develops the argument that Silicon Valley is (more or less) unbeatable in its sector and suggests on the contrary that the ecosystems most likely to succeed are those that deviate from this model and create original approaches. The global index also tends to reflect this vision, thus defeating all attempts to create a French Silicon Valley.

Lastly, macroscopic analysis of the environment reveals a major handicap for French start-ups: the financing potential in the advanced stages of development is close to 0. This means that companies that, reaching a certain maturity, are looking for funds to industrialize their model and globalize their market have no choice but to turn to foreign capital. Logically, faced with this observation, the recommendation to policymakers is to favour this type of investment (fiscally).

In conclusion, the "difficulties" of Parisian start-ups can be attributed, for the most part, to two closely related factors. The first, that of the shortcomings of the financing system, cannot really be surprising. The second, less intuitive, would rather incriminate thehe culture of French entrepreneurs (or even European): most of them would not have the ambition to build "empires" that change the world, often preferring to copy existing models and adapt them to a local market. It is clearly not the classic incentives for business creation that will correct this defect .

(Article published on blog It's not my idea! 28 November 2012)

To go further

- Read the article " Why French start-ups are looking to Americanize".

- Read the article " How innovation is supported by the U.S. government."

- Read the article "Is innovation still a priority for Europe? »

- Read the article " Americanizing its development - the culture shock "

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