Lena Gaede

Promising tech startup hubs worldwide: Paris, a world-class venue for startups

Most people easily start daydreaming when talking about Paris: impressive sights, the beautiful Seine and of course heavenly French cuisine. And not to forget: the Eiffel Tower bursting with romance. In the French capital “la vie est belle.” But truth is, when it comes to proven history of startup success stories, Paris might seem to be lagging behind in comparison to Berlin or London. Well, don’t deceive yourself. Did you know for example, that companies like BlaBlaCar and Deezer call Paris their home city? Well, now you do. So, let’s find out how Paris combines quality of life with a vibrant and upcoming startup metropolis. These are the city’s biggest strengths, weaknesses and special powers!

What are Paris’ biggest strengths from which startups can benefit?

Tech startup hub Paris – strength #1: Compact city

Besides being a beautiful city and a wonderful backdrop to any kind of project, Paris is pretty much a blessing when looking at public transportation. Paris’ metro network is claimed to be one of the most convenient systems in the world. Need to get from A to B often and quickly? No problem when in Paris!

Tech startup hub Paris – strength #2: Benefits from the EU

A city that’s used to dealing with international companies and is not only a part but even a key player of the European Union is full of promises. Thanks to this engagement, small and medium sized businesses from other important EU states are also given a helping hand by law. A good point, if you plan to internationalize your business one day – or if you want to hire your employees from EU member states. Also appreciable: Paris is the European Capital of Innovation for 2017!

Tech startup hub Paris – strength #3: French Tech Visa

Great news for international tech workers: in 2017, the French government launched the so-called French Tech Visa, which is an uncapped visa for tech workers who come from outside of the EU. With initiatives like this, France is trying to catch up to cities like London which are melting pots of Italians, Germans, Spanish and people from outside of the EU. So, building an international team should not be so much of a problem in Paris!

Jean-Marc Lazard, Founder & CEO of OpenDataSoft even finds some more benefits that speak for Paris: “Paris is one of the 10 densest cities in the world which makes it a perfect place to start a company: this is a real opportunity to experiment with all kinds of new services in fields such as tourism, mobility and urbanism. You’ll find highly educated people to help your business grow and the Paris municipality has a strong policy of supporting innovators as well.”

What are the weaknesses of Paris that could be a downside for startups?

Tech startup hub Paris – weakness #1: Culture and Language

No French – no party. In Paris, people expect their counterpart making use of the French language to be a matter of course. To be clear: many Frenchmen barely understand English. So, before entering the Parisian city life it’s essential to take a crash course in French language and culture.

Tech startup hub Paris – weakness #2:

60% of 18-29-year-olds in France would like to start their own business. Sounds like a huge pool of enthusiastic, hungry, upcoming entrepreneurs. Seems interesting? True, yet it also sounds like a hell lot of competition. Be prepared to deal with likeminded founders who might unexpectedly snatch costumers from under your nose.

What are Paris’ special powers?

Tech startup hub Paris – specialty #1: Station F

Since 2017, entrepreneurs in Paris have a new home: A giant incubator for startups, Station F, is the biggest central space for startups in the entire world. Housing up to 1000 startups, Station F offers programs, like their Founders program, but there are also bigger companies such as Amazon and Microsoft who are running their own startup accelerators inside the building. Looking for a place to foster entrepreneurship? Station F might be it!

Tech startup hub Paris – specialty #2: Solid reputation

Making business in France involves a hell lot of patience. Working relations are formed slowly but surely across years rather than months and reputation is earned in the same kind of time-frame – but once you have built them up, they are solid! So, don’t get intimidated by the French directness – rather make time to go to lunch with them every day! Sounds too easy? Maybe sometimes it is…

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