Digital Strategy Digital Transformation

French startup ecosystem: back to basics!

Startup and France - Agnes Mantel
Written by Agnès MANTEL

Innovation is a situation we choose because we have a consuming passion for something (Steve Jobs). Indeed innovation is a big part of the definition of a startup. But more precisely, a startup is a young and innovative company in the new technologies sector. In the word “startup” there is “start” and “up”: the ideas of beginning and strong growth, which well define this concept. A startup is more than a simple company, it’s a state of mind, a vision on a new market and that doesn’t have a strict business model.

Why some startups succeed and other don’t? 

Bill Gross ranks startups on 5 factors of success: ideas, team, business model, funding, and timing. Have a look at this Ted Talk to discover which one is the most important you will be surprised!


To begin, I am going to introduce a very useful word to know in this sector:

Unicorn - startup - Agnes Mantel








A unicorn: 

It’s not the animal! 🙂 It is a startup, mostly from the Sillicon Valley, with a value of more than 1 billion of dollars. Dropbox, Snapchat, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb are few famous unicorns in the world. This word comes from Ailee Lee, an American venture capital expert. For one of her studies in 2013, she found that less than 0,1% of companies that ventures capital invest in, have a value creation superior to 1 billion dollars. She wanted to have a word to describe these types of companies and unicorns are something rare, related to dream and heroic fantasies, a culture compatible with the one of geeks.

In France, there are currently: Bla Bla Car, Ventes Privées, Criteo. According to the Tribune these seven startups have their luck to become French unicorns: Actility, Amplitude Technology, Cedexis, Crocus Technology, Devialet, Scality and Sigfox.


What about France?

France is seen abroad as an old nation living on its gains and afraid of globalization. When people talk about this country they first think of gastronomy, wine, cheese, luxury brands, etc and not about technical innovations. Here are few facts about the “startups market” in France that show the opposite:

  • France is at the fifth position in terms of the numbers of unicorns.
  • A lot of companies of the CAC 40 are making partnerships or buy startups to develop their innovation.
  • 7 startups have raised more than 15 million of euros in February (according to eCap partner – numerical industry specialist)
  • Paris is the second city in Europe after London in terms of young technical companies.
  • On the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, it’s the 3rd year that France is the 2nd most represented country. In 2017, they were 250 startups. (


A movement has been created in 2015, named “La French Tech” in order to protect startups and give more visibility to the French innovation and mostly these young companies. Here you can learn more about this community.

They even organize an international competition to help startups. Have a look at the video below.


Which startups to follow?

To conclude, let’s see an overview of the 10 startups to follow in 2017, according to

  • Cohome is a platform that puts freelancers in relation in order to work each other’s place. This startup based on the collaborative economy
  • Shapr the “Tinder” of the networking. With algorithms this app proposes you inspiring people to meet.
  • Mon Potager is a website where you can choose online which vegetables and fruits you want to be delivered at home each month. Consumers want to eat healthy products and like the one-to-one relation with the farmer for example.
  • Short Edition is a terminal where you can print a free reading (1, 3 or 5 minutes) in a waiting queue in a shop, train station, …
  • Voxe is a political startup with the goal to help French people to better understand political programs. You can compare programs, ask a question directly to a politician, etc.


To go further, you can read this article on the 10 French startups to follow in 2017, according to a European media

About the author



International Digital Marketing Junior at Clarins Group.
Graduated from Ipag Business School (M2 Digital Marketing and Communication), Currently student from GEM (MS Digital Business Strategy).
Previously Web & Mobile Project Manager Assistant at Zadig & Voltaire (1 year).
Have a look at my Linkedin profile !