The ‘France Digitale’ Day took place on 25 September at the Musée des Arts Forains, in Paris. An event that truly reflected the European start-up scene, with 3,000 founders and over 150 investors. Besides the talks and round table discussions, tech professionals had a chance to talk business at 2,000 speed-dating sessions organized as part of the event. We couldn’t miss this opportunity! Having recently joined France Digitale, we were able to meet with Amazon, Dassault, SAP and other tech giants and innovative start-ups, as well as taking in all the latest trends and digital innovation. Here’s what two of our Business Developers, Loïc and Blaise, learnt during this interesting and enriching afternoon: crypto-currency funding, the impact of GDPR and the rise of the ‘Tech for Good’ movement.
The ICO: how to raise funds fast thanks to crypto-currencies
On 28 September, the French National Assembly approved the first draft of a law to regulate ICOs (Initial Coin Offering). This new, trending fundraising method merging crypto-currencies and crowd-funding is now certified even by the French financial market regulators (AMF) by using an optional visa. Blockchain start-ups can raise millions in a few days or even in a few minutes: in 2017, $2bn were raised using this new method, compared to $96m in 2017, with an average of one to two new ICOs launched every week. This increasingly popular practice opens up new possibilities for start-ups.
“ICO War Stories: hightlights, fuckups and lessons learned” Expert Stage
With: Sarah-Diane Eck (Sandblock), Yann Lechelle (SNIPS), Pierre Noizat (Paymium) and Gian Volpicelli (Wired UK)
GDPR: four months on, what are the outcomes?
Four months after the GDPR coming into force, the French regulatory authority for online data privacy (CNIL) was glad to report heightened awareness levels on the part of individual citizens: 3,700 complaints have been lodged with the body, compared to 2,294 in the same period in 2017. Organizations like NYOB also appealed to CNIL regulators to denounce the business model of tech giants (the so-called ‘GAFA’ or Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) who routinely collect a huge amount of personal data.
But what about businesses? 24,500 already appointed a DPO (Data Protection Officer), and requests for information on the subject have skyrocketed, including +45% calls and +83% visits of customers to online GDPR helpcenter webpages, and 150,000 downloads for the simplified GDPR regulation text (Datas from CNIL).
Start-up managers monitor each other to ensure everyone complies with the new regulations, even if it means prioritising data protection over their business activities.
“Will GDPR rule the world?”
With: Mark Mayo (Mozilla), Gordon Willoughby (WeTransfer), Pierre Louette (Les Echos/Le Parisien) and Lea Endres (NationBuilder)
Tech for Good – what does it mean, exactly?
In May this year, French President Emmanuel Macron met some of the biggest names in tech including Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber) at the “Tech for Good” summit. The aim was to discuss the way society is changing due to new technologies, with the tech giants putting forth proposals on welfare, education and diversity.
During the ‘France Digitale’ event, start-ups remarked France showed good levels of awareness with regard to social impact, equal pay, and women being represented at the top management level.
Corporate charity donations are also becoming a common practice (which is good news!) – for instance, Guillaume Lacroix, founder of online media outlet Brut, donates 1% of capital shares in his company to charities and causes he supports.
The ‘Tech for Good’ movement is on the rise, and it has also raised awareness about several social issues.
“Tech4Good: 50 shades of giving”
With: Nathalie Boy De La Tour (LFP), Guillaume Lacroix (Brut.), Ben Marrel (Breega) et Alexandre Mars (EPIC)
It’s this kind of events that help the entire sector learn and grow by benefiting from shared experiences. Start-up growth was the main theme of the ‘France Digitale’ Day this year: France is increasingly standing out on the international scene, aiming to become a ‘start-up nation’. But the real challenge will be to become a ‘scale-up nation’, where fledgling businesses can switch gear and jump to the next level. As Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital, remarked, “Growth is our target […] let’s become the n.1 scale-up nation!”.
Congratulations to the France Digitale team for putting together such a stellar event, and to the speakers for their priceless insight – it was a great success and we’re honoured to have been part of it! Thank you and see you next year!
More info on France Digitale’s website.
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