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NEOMA's world

Thematics :

Last January, 9 start-ups incubated at NEOMA were given the opportunity of going away on an exceptional week-long study trip. Destination San Francisco, THE entrepreneurship and innovation city, to visit the most inspiring companies in Silicon Valley: Google, Facebook, Mozzila, the UC Berkeley University incubators, ... 6 months later, the young NEOMA entrepreneurs look back on their unique experience and talk about the changes the trip has brought about for them. Extracts.

Dimitri and Vincent, founders of BULKEE, a 100% online grocery store.

Dimitri Le Hénaff:

sanfrancisco dimitrilehenaff1This trip has really transformed our overall business outlook. Whether it concerns a start-up or a more traditional company, the mentality in the United States is totally different. I get the impression that their way of working is based much more on the pursuit of objectives and more in harmony with team synergies. After this trip, I decided I had finished with the salary system. It confirmed my desire to create a business, manage its development and form my own team.

And this discovery of Silicon Valley also allowed me to think bigger. In San Francisco, anything is possible! Funds and investors are available everywhere, it really isn't a problem. Start-uppers are not overwhelmed by unnecessary problems: they just focus on the value they can bring to their clients.
Talking to entrepreneurs from different cultures also gives you the chance to review your own judgements. We met someone who told us that we were really lucky to be starting a business in France because of the combined subsidies available from the city, the region and the BPI. It's important to remember this because it can be a valuable incentive for getting started.

Vincent Rouxel :

sanfrancisco vincentrouxel1I would also add to what Dimitri's explained by saying there is one aspect that really struck me at the time: the importance of oral communication. I realised how decisive a pitch can be because it is quite clear that the best speakers raise the most money. You really have to be at ease when you speak and use convincing arguments, this counts a lot.
In San Francisco, I also realised that the simpler the business model, the more value it has. This is because it is then scalable, i.e. it can be developed quickly on a large scale, and therefore it becomes interesting for corporations.
Finally, I was also highly impressed by the notion of the customer and the drive the local entrepreneurs have

Morgan Ammar, founder of Cassette, an online advertising solution for record companies and labels

sanfrancisco morganammar1The incubator provided us with access to an entrepreneurial system and opportunities that we could never even have dreamed of if we had gone to San Francisco on our own.
When you are a student with an idea for a project, such an immersive experience is an enormous eye-opener. Thanks to this trip I could see what is going on elsewhere, hear other stories, other contexts. I am under no illusion, the next step on the road to becoming an entrepreneur is going to be difficult. But I now have a better perception of things and my project has become much clearer. The trip gave me a global vision and I got to ask myself some basic questions. It has been a true revelation, I've taken a step back and things are no longer getting on top of me.

The visit to Business France was really very instructive and helped remove a lot of psychological restraints: first of all, you don't have to wait until the business is really solid before trying to export. The American gamble is perhaps the way to go! I also appreciated the visit to Stanford very much. We often hear about and study these new creativity methods, design thinking, Lean start-up and we got to see the very place where all these concepts emerged.

Lucile Derly, co-founder of NicoMed, a pain-free solution to medical blood gas sampling.

sanfrancisco lucilederly1What struck me most and the thing I really I loved about the entrepreneurial trip to San Francisco was the ecosystem. There is no better place in the world to launch a start-up! I recall one meeting that was particularly decisive for me: the conference with Carlos Diaz, co-founder of The Refiners. Thanks to this conference, I now have a better understanding of what is at stake in the entrepreneurial world. As an investor himself, Carlos Diaz was transparent about what investors expect. This not only showed me how I needed to change my pitch, but also to understand why we had just been refused investment. Since then, I've been listening to his advice on the Silicon Carne podcast and I really feel a part of this world. Another highlight of the trip for me was the visit to Business France. After making a quick pitch for them, I was given an appointment. This proved that there was interest in our project, which encouraged myself and my co-founder to carry on with our efforts.
I've also become more aware of the challenge of being an entrepreneur in what is essentially a male-dominated world. It's not always so obvious!

Thomas Playe, founder of So Far, an application that allows you to order and pay for food and drinks in bars, nightclubs and restaurants with a smartphone.

sanfrancisco thomasplaye1This trip really allowed me to feel even more comfortable speaking and gave me the desire to go out and communicate with others. Americans are much more direct and since the trip, I find it much easier to hand out my business card or my LinkedIn info. I've even found that pitch contests are a great opportunity to make new contacts. This experience has totally transformed my idea of networking.

Watch the video interviews with other students who were on the trip!