Index Ventures invests in the Paris Accelerator TheFamilyand thus strengthens the ecosystem of startups in France. The purpose of this investment is to contribute to the development of a bold program dedicated to French entrepreneurs.
Alice Zagury, President of TheFamily explains, "Our goal is to offer the best possible program. With this new association, it is above all a question of surrounding ourselves with rare and passionate people who share our values and plunge with us into the adventure of TheFamily: creating a powerful education system and setting up what we call privileges for entrepreneurs: tailor-made solutions to the systematic problems they all encounter in France".
"We address the local "Dark Matter", i.e. all the entrepreneurs who don't know they can be yet! This is, I believe, the greatest opportunity to be served in an emerging ecosystem.
It means more diversity, more women and people with skills that go beyond business."
TheFamily has been running since the end of March 2013. Unlike traditional incubators or accelerators, the structure does not offer any workspace or co-working. TheFamily's team, like a Parisian trade show, organizes meetings for its entrepreneurs with investors and innovators from all over the world who arrive in the capital, all at the rhythm of an intense program that helps their foals to accelerate their failures and to access their market. The atmosphere here is warm and demanding.
TheFamily has already received more than 800 applications for a selection of 30 startups, many of which have since raised funds or received buyout offers.
Alice Zagury does not limit the approach from TheFamily to the startups, but addresses all the actors of the ecosystem: "We have the chance to be independent and radical enough to be able to talk to everyone about actors - startups, investors, members of government and major corporations, with the aim of aligning the interests of chaucun. Our vision is clearly ecosystem-based. There's no point in supporting 100 startups a year if the key players are not also following an ambitious innovative dynamic."
Despite the growth of a new entrepreneurial community in France, the context remains difficult for start-ups. TheFamily team identifies the inherent problems and expectations of entrepreneurs to create effective acceleration tools adapted to the local context.
"We do not forget that we are a revolutionary country. We see at our level that our generation of creators is frustrated but growing. I bet that sooner or later, we're going to reverse the balance of power. French entrepreneurs go abroad, many come back to France and share this desire for change. Yes, it's hard, but it's changing. The best is yet to come. France is not "startup-friendly", as our foreign contacts too often remind us, whether they are investors or incubators, but the good news is that at least, if you can do it in France...you could do it almost anywhere else!"
One of the inherent problems is directly attributable to the education system. "Most entrepreneurs come from business schools. We would like to encourage other branches as well, especially when you are lucky enough to have such reputable training as our design, art or engineering schools.
We need to make entrepreneurship accessible to these young people by removing barriers. ...by providing tools and inspiration, by proving to them that it's possible."
It is a challenge that is not limited to young entrepreneurs but goes far beyond the issues of economic policy in the face of the digital revolution. "The confusion that has guided political action towards startups in France is the confusion that consists in believing that a startup is a miniature version of a company. A startup is not a mini-company. A startup is a temporary organisation looking for a business model with immense growth potential. I don't think it's up to the government to guide entrepreneurs through yet another administration that puts selection criteria in the wrong places and diverts creators from developing the essential: their product. On the other hand, I hope that we can inspire future legislation. We are here to help the government
in that sense."
Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.
TheFamily's ambition is to accelerate 100 startups in eighteen months by offering an education and privilege program that plays with the codes of French culture. The accelerator recently revealed its new project of a castle in Normandy. "Every large family has a castle in France," says Oussama Ammar, co-founder of TheFamily, mischievously. "It's a privilege for entrepreneurs who want to have a real time to concentrate with their team members, in a soothing landscape, a sort of Villa Medicis of startups. There's something very French about TheFamily, you love good food and you're looking for a certain level of quality of life, it's one of the many advantages of being in France."
TheFamily's original approach correlated with its ecosystem vision is what seduced Index Ventures. Conversely, Alice Zagury notes the fund's ability to lead in Europe a dynamic seine for seed investment.
"Not all investment funds see the strategic pertience in investing in an accelerator rather than directly in young startups. Index saw that. In addition to having a network of more than 200 promising startups, they have the right approach, able to make investment decisions in less than a week, they understand the challenges of very young startups. We share the same vision for the development of European ecosystems. This does not mean that we are exclusive with Index, we address all the funds we like to work with. This is a partnership that will strengthen our program and allow it to grow from a solid foundation."
Martin Mignot of Index Ventures comments: "Alice, Oussama and Nicolas, form the most atypical and complementary trio I have ever seen. The result of this association is a set of incredibly innovative and daring actions. They run TheFamily like a startup, constantly testing new ideas and quickly iterating in ping-pong with their users (the entrepreneurs in their portfolio). I believe they have the right mix of creativity and execution discipline to make a massive impact on entrepreneurship in France."
Read the article from UP' : TheFamily, the Medici villa of startups (Conversations / April 2013)