Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Rude Baguette's Paris Founders Event @Google. A Success!

A fan of Google maps, it was fun to actually go inside their Paris headquarters as opposed to just see the street view. Last night, April 8, 2014, the 2011-founded blog Rude Baguette hosted its 9th Founders Event (TFE) with a twist. Instead of the usual networking-only soiree, they presented 10 finalists, of which five will get a launch package including assistance in marketing, 1-on-1 workshops at Google and tickets to The Next Web conference in Amsterdam.
By hosting the event, Google and its Google for Entrepreneurs program, hopes to contribute to the development of the truly burgeoning French startup scene. Partnered with TFE were La French Tech and Maddyness. La French Tech is another new association created with the French government and businesses to promote French startups. Their aim is to show the world France is a  "Startup Republic!" Maddyness is a site dedicated to the French Startup ecosystem and focuses on news, analysis, trends and guidelines for entrepreneurs. 
Having been in New York City at the beginning of the boiling point for Internet and web, in the mid-90s, it was exciting to be in this basement auditorium at what feels like the new boom for France.
Google, presented by Martin Gorner, asked "why do Google offices look like a kindergarten?" Because we like to think of ourselves as a creative agency, promoting the idea of developing and wanting to work with developers around the world. He referenced former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's famous tweet  "My New Year's Resolution is to learn code with Codeacademy in 2012." Gorner then talked about how the 2013 winner of the Stanford Challenge was French startup Goopil and that with Cloud computing, Google developers can work anywhere.
The first finalist presenter was Front, an e-mail client with collaborative features where everyone (whom you add) can comment on emails. If you are looking at the e-mail at the same time as someone is commenting, it can nearly be an instant messaging service. Finished at 4:00 AM that morning (April 8), co-founder and CEO Mathilde Collin was relieved to report they'd just added twitter capability. Compared to Sparrow (another French startup that was acquired by Google), they like to differentiate as the  "front desk of every company where you can collaborate in real-time."
Citing an April 2013 Forrester report, Wisemetrics CEO Stephan Allard stated there is "no clear leader" in the social publishing platform space. They hope to change that with this product. Not only can you schedule posts and/or tweets in advance, with pictures, but Wisemetrics will predict the current and future success of your posts. A demo showed that his post was "among your 12% worst posts." Humble stuff indeed. However, with the simple click of a button you can "improve your post." Wisemetrics will run its analytics and,  with new text and image, create a 184% improvement. I'd say that's a spread I'm willing to take a bet on.
Sometimes no matter how bilingual we are, we can still make "betises," as evidenced by Orange Fab France's director Pascal Latouch when he started off his speech with  "Good Night!" I was charmed, nonetheless, and impressed with the telecommunications giant's commitment to startups. Having seven companies in their Paris accelerator, Pascal has a determined goal of getting CONTRACTS!
In the same vein, Oxalide's marketing manager Edouard Ly seemed to have coordination trouble between what he was saying, what he was reading on his iPad and what was on the screen. Literal translations into English also weren't quite fluent, but he got his points across eventually, struggling to convey the importance of a good brand strategy vertically (technically) as well as across all mediums. Oh well, can't win them all.
Getting the blood pumping was a direct result of Phonotonic's product Music Battle and after Founder and CEO Nicolas Hainiandry Rasamimanana's presentation I want to run out and get it! The concept is simple, "don't play music, be music." Using their app you can control the music and song with a connected object (in this case a foam ball). So you create music as your dancing. I love it!
Following this, Paypal had the potential to look very dry but Developer Advocate Orkun Saitoglu drew hearty laughs as he showed how much Paypal loves developers. He wanted to smash the idea of the Silicon Valley "Paypal mafia" with a famous panda video (a must see, if you haven't already). As incentive, they will offer qualifying startups top-notch customer service, mentorship and free processing for 18 months (with a limit).
The next presenter was "under embargo" but I'll say they have a quite interesting app that encourages one to achieve a certain goal with the help of an app or via friendly competition. (And they're named after an old favorite delivery service.)
The final finalist to present was another "wow" musically. Siilar, by Niland, as presented by co-founder and CEO Damien Tardieu showed how either through a web-app or API integration you can "use music to find music." For example, let's say Don Draper says, "we need to use the music BMW used in their commercial," but you can't use the same because you need to do something different. Or let's say you want to find a song like Hollysiz's "Come Back To Me" but you want a male voice. Plug in the song, select the tags to differentiate your search and you get results after the product has scanned all the songs that sound like it in the world registry. Currently they are targeting commercial enterprises because individual users "won't pay." The speed and accuracy of the search was impressive and I heard murmurings throughout the room.
Good selection of finalists Rude Baguette!
Rude Baguette co-founder Liam Booger took the stage finally to reveal their newest product, the Rude List, which has a profile on nearly every company, investor and product that's important in the French startup scene. A must-see for sure.
The networking followed with a surge of friendliness and pizzas I hadn't seen in a long time! I'm looking forward to the next event. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Power of Social Media conference

Thursday, February 20th I trotted on over to the OECD for a half-day conference on Social Media. Put together in part by iABC and the OECD (or in French, the OCDE) the morning's talks got people comfortable with the basic who/what/where's of social media. I stepped in to hear  "Ignite social media" - four five-minute presentations on a variety of uses of social media. Mary B. Adams, social media consultant (@LadyMissMBA), presented a packed discussion on measuring ROI.  Arthur Mickoleit, OECD e-gov policy analyst (, mentioned how there's a 20:1 ratio difference between political leaders twitter followers and their institutions. The question is how to get the governments to engage and use SM as well. Chicago had a successful interaction with its Chicago Shovels: Snow Corps campaign linking volunteers with residents who need this service. Mickoleit is deep in the awareness that in a lot of countries, education determines social media use. And he recognized that the value proposition for governments can be tougher as they may not see a real R.O.I for social media use.

In her "Why wikis?" talk, Estelle Loiseau, manager of OECD’s WikiGender, clearly showed how wikis provide information from the "bottom up" as individuals add their knowledge to a page. She's seen it as a great source for crowdsourcing and for strategy partnerships. Yael Swerdlow, co-founder of Snapcious (@YaelSwerdlow) wowed us with the fact that  "1 billion photos are shared per day on social media sites. Photography is our global language" and her challenge is to move us from mindlessly just clicking to engaging us with her Snapcious contests. Mentioning her Women's Empowerment Foundation perked up the ears of a few others in the room and I will be eager to attend her upcoming event as well.

Here are some pics

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Innovation, trends and rumors from France

Some news bits I found interesting in The Connexion (November 2013 issue).

* Slow computers in France are costing users 5 days a year in wasted time. Waiting for their PCs to start up (11 minutes), files to load and programs to start took on average 120 hours a year. Whoa. That's a lot of time for extra coffee breaks or water-cooler gossip!

* According to Thomson Reuters, the top countries for innovative business are USA, Japan and France. That's encouraging news for Francophiles around the world!

* Despite city-wide campaigns to be more tourist-friendly, Paris has still maintained its reputation of being rude according to the Anholt-Gfk City Brands Index, which measures cities by the opinion of visitors in several categories. London and Sydney were the top two and, sadly, Paris didn't even make the top 10.

* Did you know that eating Frogs legs was originally a British thing? According to archaeologists from the U of Buckingham who found charred bones dating back to between 6250 BC AND 7590 BC, it seems we should switch the associations for "frog" and "rosbif!"

* The trend of buying coffee for a stranger has taken off in France, but not in Paris yet. It started in Naples (caffe sospeso) and in other parts of France (café suspend) so perhaps the Parisian cafes participating in the free app where you can coffee for 1 euro could kick off this trend?

* After the USA, France is the world's second largest owner of ocean floor. With all its overseas territories you would think this is enough, but apparently France wants to extend its claim to more than the internationally recognized Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 miles from its continental shelf.

* The theater where the film pioneer Lumière brothers showed their first films, the Eden in La Ciotat (near Marseille), has just finished an extensive renovation. At night the facade shows a laser installation of a train, in honor of A train arriving at La Ciotat station (1895), which caused panic among early cinema-goers.

* A Normandy-based family-run firm is saving millions of lives throughout the world with their ready-to-use therapeutic food Plumpy'Nut. The firm, Nutriset, says the food doesn't need to be heated, diluted with water, refrigerated or served in a bowl. It has a shelf life of two years and it tastes good. This is saving malnourished children and Unicef (the biggest buyer) feeds two million children annually.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Victor LeBroussois's Untitled 000 Art Show

Independence Day in the U.S. of A had me walking into an art gallery, the xpo gallery in fact, for Victor LeBroussois' first art show.

Jumping into the digital art world, Victor's paintings were all uploaded into Google Images and then cataloged. The connection between art, the viewer, and what a computer program considers similar for cataloging all come together in all these Untitled works.

An old-world, non-digital, surprise came in the form of a mime, who after surveying the other guests, found the artist and presented him with a white rose. Tres touching.

Here's a glimpse into it all...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Futur en Seine (Digital World Festival) - JuiceUP seminar

Created by Cap Digital in 2009, Futur en Seine is an annual festival that presents the latest French and international digital innovations to professionals and the greater public over the course of 10 days.

This year they debuted an "Innovation Village" at CENTQUATRE, a massive renovated former municipal funeral services building. [Designed in 1874 in the style of the time, this largely glass, brick and iron structure, consists of two large halls equipped with hangars, unloading docks, courts, stables and cellars and is nearly 40,000 square meters (430,556.40 square feet)! Reopened on October 11th 2008 as a public institution of cultural cooperation, it's heralded as one of Paris's new art centers for artistic residencies and exhibits.]

There are conferences, innovative projects, ateliers and more from June 13th to 16th and then throughout the whole Ile-de-France at various event partners until the 23rd of June.

The first day, June 13, I decided to start my journey into the futur at the JuiceUP program. This three-hour program was for International clusters in collaboration with the European Digital Think Tank (EUDTT) and EIT ICT labs (European Institute of Innovation and Technology). After a presentation of the EIT ICT Labs and its soft landing program (presented by Ms. Isabelle DE SUTTER from Systematic Paris Region), there was a Round Table on the Internationalization of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Then, Cap Digital CEO Patrick COCQUET gave a presentation on the EUDTT, followed by another Round Table of "Networks of clusters and cluster management." The round table discussions were enhanced by an online interactive workshop using technology.

Among the clusters present were Pole Media Grand Paris Project Manager Axel PATINET, Systematic's European Affairs Manager Isabelle DE SUTTER, CLand's General Director Marta IZQUIERDO, TSB Innovations (Berlin) EEN Project Manager Thomas VERMYNCK and University of Oulu Department of Information Processing Science (Finland) Assistant Professor Pasi KUVAJA, Pauli Kuosmanen from TIVIT in Finland, Benoit MICHEL & Pierre COLLIN from TWIST in Belgium, John McALEER from CIT Cork in Ireland and Santi FORT from Barcelona Media in Spain, although several arrived late due to the air strike. Cap Digital's European Projects Manager Nadia ECHCHIHAB led the morning's discussions.

COCQUET started off his presentation with "What is Cap Digital doing for the European Think Tank." Of course Futur en Seine is a significant effort as a space for mixing different publics (the corporate public and the greater larger public) for testing innovation. They felt it was important to have a relationship with other European clusters.  The activities they focus on are: exchanging market and strategy information; matchmaking between SME's and labs throughout Europe; and white papers with the goal to share global vision and work more efficiently. The common goal of these activities is to create a cluster of clusters with an European Union-wide ecosystem, with each cluster managing its ecosystem. Patrick went on to say the Creative and Cultural Industry (CCI) is a non-traditional sector. Companies (clusters) within it are creative, have the ability to innovate, are operating in a knowledge economy, have use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and a high impact on society.

ECHCHIHAB, lead the participants on a collaborative interaction via Stormz with "What tools/actions are you using to collaborate with other foreign clusters?" Answers centered around maintaining personal contacts (Linkedin) and other meetings/conferences--in particular the EC ICT event in Vilnius which is apparently the best event to hear about future projects. (Tip: book early because there are not a lot of hotels.) VERMYNCK also mentioned Republica's ICT Conference on e-governance. He went on to generate a discussion around the differences between the Enterprise European Network and the EU Think Tank. He finds he uses the EEN a lot for helping their companies grow internationally but the women in the room didn't like using it as much, bringing an understanding to the difficulties in collaborating because of problems using, and within, the different networks.

The conversation shifted to how it is difficult for startups and SMEs to travel on these trade missions abroad because they cannot afford to be away from their company for weeks, or even days, at a time. VERMYNCK offered his solution by always booking his missions for the SMEs with a day (or several afternoons) free. Then he arranges for his SMEs to work in a co-working space in Berlin so they can still work while benefiting from the advantages of going on these vital trips.

Time spent away from the office lead to a discussion around funding issues in general. VERMYNCK also mentioned Erasmus for Entrepreneurs, which highlighted the point that Erasmus for business clusters like Cap Digital and the other organizations at JuiceUP does not exist yet. This brand new idea was proposed during the session and it is hoped to push this new idea to the European Commission via Marta Izquierdo who is a member of the European Creative Industries Alliance. Many in the room commented there is too much paperwork for not enough money. The challenge of having to pay for a stress test (to test the strength of the cluster) was not well received either. The cost to receive a label (ex: Gold label, Bronze label) was thought to perhaps not be worth the thousands of euros spent on it. A final comment was that Clusters (not consultants) should train clusters. Clusters learn best from others who have walked the walk, not just someone who is talking the talk.

Of course, afterwards, there was much talk -- and networking. For this writer, this was a very insightful session where I learned a lot about a whole new environment and level of activity with the focus on development and innovation.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Silicon Paris

At my last Cocktails with Courtney I was able to make a note of some of the tech activity in Paris. I've been keeping tabs on these places for a while now, but haven't written about them.

Everyone in Paris, and most people in the States, have heard of The Tank, where I even visited once during a party when Amiando set up offices in Paris. Silicon Sentier solidifies its spot on the map with several offerings: La Cantine; Silicon Maniacs (hosting an "adieu" party to the Minitel); Le Chaudron (another co-working space in the Sentier quarter) and the Silicon Xperience. Fing is another site with links to its network and as a place for connections in the digital space.

Quite frankly, my goodness! There is a lot going on here. I am not ashamed to admit I was happy in my motherhood bubble, but it's good to lift one's head up and see what else is going on in the world.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cocktails with Courtney ~ May

It has been the coldest and rainiest Spring in Paris in forty years, according to some reports. And May 30th, 2013 in Paris was another typical rainy and chilly day. Of course it was tres chaleureux (very warm) and friendly in the Tuileries Bar at the Westin Hotel for this month's cocktails.

Guenael Amieux, a long-time web producer, and I chatted for a long time about the "cyber scene" in Paris and how it's picking up; Loic Le Muer and how he seems to be considered the leading web guru around; how Google Glass is a little prejudice since glasses-wearing folks can't really test them out (unless you're wearing contacts I guess); and why is it that even to this day our phones and computers can't handle two languages at once? He cited that there's a huge population in the world that's bilingual and how, for instance, if I text my husband in Franglais (French + English), the phone will consider one of the languages to just contain a row of misspelled words.

Jeanne De Sainte Marie, who came to the 1st Cocktails with Courtney in Paris (April 2011), was happy to show us her completed app after two years of intensive work. As an illustrator, she drew extensive drawings and paintings for a charming French/English bilingual app for children. A Word's A Bird (Spring Flies By In Rhymes) is a beautifully illustrated interactive poetry app where you can read, listen and play with the poems. Her illustrations are gorgeous and the team who worked together on this are talented professionals. (MORE INFO)

My good friend Victor Le Broussois came by, looking refreshingly springy in white jeans and crisp navy blazer. We've known each other since his early dot-com business (StockOnWeb) and our joint Cocktails with Courtney event in Cannes (2000). Victor has traded in the 1s and 0s for paints and brushes and will be showing his paintings and installation at XPO Gallery, a gallery well known for its affiliation with art at a digital age. Currently Aram Barthol is showing. His show is open only by appointment and Victor's vernissage (opening cocktail) is by invitation. (If you'd like an invite, let me know.) We'll be sure to have a report on it!

The guests tonight had a chance to win a limited-edition Cocktails with Courtney t-shirt and the lucky winner was Charlotte Panis, who runs a private concierge service for people in Paris. I met Charlotte at an ISG Digital "First Monday" event and she explained in more detail how she helps travelers to Paris experience new, cozy and special restaurants, shopping and touring. Whether a seasoned traveler to Paris or coming for the first time but craving something unique, her services help the visitor see a nouveau Paris.

With such a great repartee between all the guests, I'm sure the next Cocktails' will draw out more interesting folks.

Here are all the pics!