Startup Guide To Paris – The City Of Light

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The french capital Paris is increasingly supporting the development of the startup scene by investing a vast amount of money and various facilities required for founding a business.

Don’t miss the infographic on how to start your startup in Paris!

Located in central western Europe, Paris’ ideal position allows you to travel to big cities such as London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Bern and Luxembourg within only 2.5 hours. It is impossible to enumerate the thousands of things that you can visit, do, eat and drink in Paris. That is why it is the most visited city in the world, with more than 30 million tourists each year.

Public and private investments have become more important than ever: The city of Paris is investing 1 billion Euros for infrastructure to host new startups. Microsoft will launch one of its Ventures Accelerators and many business angels are helping entrepreneurs.

Its current startup environment is experiencing the most important growth in the world. With 50M€ invested in 2014 in Paris’ startups alone, the biggest delegation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2015 was French. Paris is now among the best places for entrepreneurs and investors with 4,000 startups in Paris, 12,000 in Paris metropolitan area and the world’s biggest incubator in 2016 etc.

Paris – The City Of Lights

Advantages Of Starting Up In Paris:

  • Capital city, you can find whatever you are looking for, from French government organizations to all embassies, or most of the biggest French companies.
  • Lot of financial help from the government and private investors. BPI France can help you find your own solution.
  • Startupers are open! Parisian startup creators are open to discuss their idea, or your idea. If you join an accelerator program, you will have to share a working space with them. It can be useful when you don’t know anybody in the city.
  • Lots of events! Meetups, conferences, trainings, fairs, or further entrepreneurs’ contests, there is not a week without an event dedicated to startups or ventures in Paris, no reason to get bored.
  • A French citizen can get unemployment while creating his or her own startup.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Lots of taxes and paperwork, France is known for that in general, but it’s getting better and better for startups.
  • English speaking workers can be hard to find, nevertheless the new generation of young graduates are eager to work for international companies.
  • Developing an idea in France doesn’t mean it will work internationally. You must think about your idea at a global level early enough, especially by providing multilingual services.
  • Remote work is still not popular. You might need some flexibility on this particular point, but both employers and employees are not used to working remotely. That is why we have more and more coworking spaces.
  • To live in Paris can be expensive. It is not the most expensive city in Europe, but it is definitely the most expensive in France. You can always find affordable places in the suburbs with a good commute time.

Paris has very fast growth in the startup environment. Financial concerns have to be taken into account if you decide to create your business here. Also some historically old-fashion behaviors in business relationships can slow you down. But, there are a lot of good things happening in Paris that make it enjoyable to start your adventure here. Multicultural, friendly, culturally rich, you will find a lot of people to join the community and easily be part of the city. Paris has 2 international airports, 7 main train stations (4 international), and a feasible connection for all European metropolitan cities. You can come and go anywhere easily which allows you to make it to any meeting or conference all around the globe.

Dive Into Paris’ Startup Environment

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The city has become very interested in new technologies and entrepreneurs with good ideas. Lots of sharing happens, no one is shy to pitch an idea at a meetup or a competition and the number of events like these are growing.

Upcoming Events, Meetups And Other Occasions:

  • Moonbar: collects most of Parisian startup events.
  • Startup digest: A nice calendar with all events, you can subscribe to the weekly digest.
  • My startup: Paris city website is dedicated to innovation actors.
  • Paris&co: A diary in French to find upcoming events.

Regular Events And Meetups:

  • Startup Workshop: The Family workshop for lunch breaks.
  • Startinparis: Free monthly events to present your product in front of many investors, entrepreneurs.
  • Startup weekend: Launch your startup in a weekend!
  • Mash-up: Students are able to pitch their ideas and win sponsors.
  • Drink Entrepreneurs: Go take an “Apéro” on the first Thursday of each month to meet other entrepreneurs.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Le salon des entrepreneurs: Big fair with speakers, accelerator programs and animations.
  • Startup Assembly: Open your office’s doors for a few days to share your experience. Startups welcome people who want to know what their work life is like.
  • Connected Conference: Yearly conference with great speakers from industry to web technologies.
  • Le Web: Europe’s biggest event for web-based companies.

Choose From The Best Co-working Spaces In Paris

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A huge number of coworking spaces now exist in Paris and this number is growing and growing, with new and fun environments in all area. They offer a lot of flexibility with a big price range and an array of services available. Office managers are all friendly and ready to help at any time, and most of these places allow you to host/assist events, meetups and workshops.

Coworking Spaces In Paris:

  • Great wiki to find all coworking spaces in Paris.
  • A good widget that allows you to look for over 70 coworking spaces, but also incubators, accelerators and fablabs.
  • My Cowork: Open 7 days a week, a cosy and warm place with good Internet access, you can find coworking spaces, private offices and meeting rooms in the heart of Paris.
  • Be-coworking: Not only a coworking space, but also a great community with training and relaxation events organized.
  • La Cordée: Great place with a great spirit. Lots of meetups happening here. Open 24/24 for members and only 4€/hour.
  • La Ruche: Social innovation is the goal of this association. Helping entrepreneurs with ideas that help the community is their motivation.
  • Le loft 50 partners: Nice Loft in Paris with 620m² of offices, desks and meeting rooms. They talk about startups visiting this place in their blog, a good way to share ideas and receive feedback.
  • Workinparis: Several spaces located into Paris, they offer a networking program to exchange information, job offers, ask for fundraising and meet other entrepreneurs.
  • Coworkshop: Located in a dynamic and famous area in Paris, this coworking space offers many different price levels that can fit any need, from the nomad who needs an office for an hour, to established startup that needs a private office for a year.
  • Mutinerie: A different environment is offered here: freedom. This friendly looking space can organize events, conferences or trainings in Paris, but also gives you the opportunity to escape into a lost land 1.5 hours away from Paris with beds and food in a very nice house, another way to co-work.
  • Lawomatic: One price, one place, available 24/7 all year and always the same desk for you.
  • NUMA offers a free space on their ground floor, but also some more classical coworking spaces with a special place for important meetings. NUMA is a big player in startup creation and offers a lot of help in all stages of a venture (see more information in 3rd stop).
  • Le Laptop: A typical place in Paris, this old workshop is so greatly located that it doesn’t feel like you are in the city.
  • DojoCrea is part of a group that offers many services, events and an accelerator program. But it also offers several spaces in Paris and around the world, a unique price for each of them, 24/7 access and no notice period if you want to leave.

Prepare Your Budget In Paris

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Financial organizations offer different services such as coworking spaces or investors network for many of those incubators and accelerators. It’s important to be prepared and have a good pitch to present your idea to investors, as it is really difficult to convince French investors.

Incubators/Accelerators:

  • Paris Pionnieres: dedicated to women and helps at different levels if you come just with an idea, create your startup or want to conquer the market.
  • Not only a coworking space, NUMA is a big international structure with different levels of help for innovative startups. From free space to work to creative space or other event/training hosting, whatever status the startup has, there is a place and advice at NUMA.
  • Paris&Co: (mostly in French) Famous incubator in Paris, they have recently launched several specialized incubators & platforms: editors, tourism, sport, social innovation Social Innovation and health.
  • Agoranov: Present since 15 years and created by students with government funds, the best-known success story of this incubator is Criteo (Criteo).
  • 50 Partners: offers the only automatic fundraising at the beginning of an incubator program, you can get up to 150k€.
  • Coming soon, La Halle Freyssinet will be the biggest incubator in the world. Created by Xavier Niel, the French Steve Jobs, it will host up to 1000 startups at the same time.
  • The Family: If you are looking for people with experience in the Silicon Valley, this mysterious “accelerator”
    or “shareholder” will make you happy. Those “barbarians”, as they call themselves, organize meetups and teach more about pitch, growth hacking or more technical things.
  • BeMyApp is a Hackathon organizer that is offering an incubator program to winners. Clearly focused on the technical side, participate to a 48h Hackathon to launch your startup. They also recently launched the first full remote accelerator program.
  • Others: Lapaillasse, Usine, Startup42, Starburstaccelerator, Impulse Partners, Le 104 factory

Grants And Subventions:

  • Unemployment can be collected when creating your startup: French citizens can create their company and keep their unemployment benefits to be able to reach the point when they can make money with their idea.
  • Another option is to obtain financial aid by giving up your unemployment, but receiving ACCRE, which is equal to the money you would get for the time you would receive your unemployment benefits (eg.: if you are entitled to get 2000€ a month for 12 months, you receive 24 000€).

Crowd Investing Platforms:

Angel Investors:

Parisbusinessangels and Réseau Entreprendre: (in french) Business angels networks, you can join it as a BA or ask for funds.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • BPI France (in french) helps to finance any kind of company, with over 86 000 companies helped in 2014, this is your best chance to get funds.
  • Microsoft has chosen Paris as part of a few locations in which they help early-stage startups to build their business.
  • ParTech Ventures: International company with offices in Paris, Berlin and San Francisco, be part of their Partech Shaker to build innovative ideas, whether or not for a startup.
  • ID Invest: Dailymotion ,Sigfox or Deezer are some of their partners. They have invested in more than 3500 companies in the last 20 years.
  • And some others: Elaia, Isai, Newfund, Alvencapital

Other Investment Opportunities:

Always Look Further In Paris

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If you need to find advice on how to set-up your business in Paris, you can find several pages and organizations that will help you. Most of the Incubators/Accelerators and other investment opportunities always include financial guidance and help to create your company in France. But, here are some links: La French Tech helps you to set you up completely in France, from Resident permit to fundraising and mentoring help; this guide gives you more technical information about how to create your company in France; be part of Paris Region Entreprise to accelerate your business in Paris; if you need only a tax advisor, take a look at this list to find what you need.
Here is also a guide from the City of Paris with all steps on how to get started. But, if you do not want to bother with all those hard steps, you can try to reach this other startup Guacamol that will do the job for you. BPI France is also a great way to find your path in your startup creation.

Since a few years, the Paris startup ecosystem is changing quickly. Most of the organizations above were not existing 5 years ago, or not present in France. The number of startups in Paris is growing faster than anywhere else, and the support, both governmental and private, is adapting very well to this evolution. A lot of partnership is happening with startups in Silicon Valley, New York or Tel Aviv and everywhere around the globe. Good French blogs, magazines or else dedicated to startup business can give you a lot of insights, such as Maddyness, Rude Baguette, French Web, La French Tech or Startup Village.

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Last updated: August 4th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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