Entrepreneurship is an integral part of SKEMA Business School’s DNA. This was exemplified on January 29 at the Startup Kafe, an event conducted by SKEMA Ventures at which students can pitch their business ideas in a friendly, conducive environment. It took place simultaneously at SKEMA’s Paris, Sophia Antipolis and Lille campuses and the Raleigh (USA) campus, and was attended by more than 180 students.
At the Sophia Antipolis campus, 13 projects were pitched in front of a captivated audience comprising students from SKEMA and its partner schools including the Sustainable Design School and Université Cote d’Azur. In Paris, 21 entrepreneurs presented their pitch in front of an audience that comprised business and engineer students, alumni, and experts from the entrepreneurship ecosystem. In Lille, 9 students pitched at the event which was hosted at ENSAM Lille-Arts et Métiers ParisTech, an engineering school and one of SKEMA Business School’s partners, and organized by SKEMA Ventures and Tonic Incubation. SKEMA Ventures’ Raleigh team hosted the event at HQ Raleigh, a startup incubator and community of entrepreneurs. The 13 enthusiastic entrepreneurs who presented their business ideas in Raleigh attended the event despite heavy rains and snowfall alert.
USP of the Startup Kafe
What makes the Startup Kafe such an interesting event? The answer lies in the simplicity of its format and its incredible potential to help students hone their entrepreneurial skills. At the Startup Kafe, students present two-minute pitches to present their innovative business ideas in a conducive and encouraging environment. The audience comprises students from SKEMA and its partner schools, alumni entrepreneurs, and prominent members of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The participants also get to listen to the testimonials of successful alumni entrepreneurs who share interesting tips and insights on what works and what doesn’t. Thus, young entrepreneurs can save precious time and resources by learning from other’s mistakes and avoid making them.
Students at the Sophia Antipolis campus got the opportunity to listen to alumni Fabrice Leclerc who built and sold a 20-people company, traveled the world, and is now developing “the flower power capsule.” Fabrice spoke about how he introduced one of his companies in the stock market, the importance of networking, and what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
In Paris, Tam LY from Pépite Hesam, founder of the company We Check, found the event to be really interesting. “I highly recommend it to all young entrepreneurs who want to challenge their projects or ideas to an informed audience. It’s a good opportunity to practice pitching as well,” he said. Students in Lille attentively listened to Grégoire Maurice (2002 alumni), founder of the French startup Le Green Griot, as he talked about his company and how he created it two years ago. He also offered internship opportunities within his company.
The Startup Kafe in Raleigh was attended by François Osemont founder of Dicoti, Jean Yves Mea, founder of Businexx, and Cyril Vanneste, founder of Rock4You. These entrepreneurs are benefitting from the incubation provided by SKEMA Ventures’ The Venture Factory. A guest presentation by Jean Marc Rollin, a successful serial entrepreneur, provided the participants with various useful insights. At the event, while some of the first-time participants presented their business idea with trepidation, other regular ones stepped up with confidence, drawing wisdom from their previous pitching events.
The pitches in Lille encompassed a diverse range of fields such as recycling, catering, computer protection, innovative mobile applications, and production of non-polluting candles, among others.
At Sophia Antipolis, the ideas were equally interesting. Some of these included positive impact projects from Enactus students, an innovative car washing system that does not use water! Pitches by students in Raleigh covered the full gamut of entrepreneurial concepts, ranging from businesses seeking to derive economic value and profit, to social-oriented ventures aiming to deliver better health or living conditions.
Feedback from the students was heartening. Marie Veyron, one of the students who pitched at the Sophia Antipolis campus, said, “I really enjoyed the event yesterday. It wasn’t easy as it was my first pitch, but it was great to be able to practice and receive feedback. We should have such events more often as it’s always good to meet other students who are in the same situation. The talks by alumni were also useful as they provided concrete examples of entrepreneurship.”
Another student Lounis Diabi from Lille said, “SKEMA Ventures’ Startup Kafe was wonderful! I had a great time and made the most of the opportunity to practice the pitch of my Startup. I got to create new connections with students and will definitely be present next time.
SKEMA Ventures is organizing several other events in the coming months, such as the StarTonic WeekEnd in Lille on March 19 with the other partner-schools of Tonic Incubation, and the BootCamps in Raleigh and Paris from April 16 to 18 and May 13 to 15, respectively. Stay tuned for more details.