France has been active in the startup accelerator business for a few years with corporate accelerators alongside corporate venture initiatives, privately held accelerators, and State supported accelerators. The objective for all of them is to help startups grow faster and steadier. Yet, the impacts of such initiatives are still to prove their value generation for all stakeholders since there is no clear success out of it. Maybe the ones launched by IBM and Oracle in the last few days would change the game as they are focusing on providing deals to the startups instead of advisory for their first baby steps.
Most of the accelerators and incubators in France are based on the Y Combinator and TechStar model: help startup founders move from their business idea to a product/ service that can be sold. This model is really useful when you have a model that can scale fast in a large local market, like the US market. The startup can then go for a second round of funding to focus on business, and later on only try to expand in another market.
But when you are a French based company, you have to go for business before scale due to the local market size. This makes the accelerator business a highly competitive one while not providing any support for startups to scale. IBM with its “Scale Zone” and Oracle with its “Startup Cloud Accelerator” seem to have understood this challenge and are providing support to improve the deal flow of startups instead of helping them go from the “Proof of concept” stage to the “Product ready” stage.
This way, startups may be able to get in touch with their customer needs faster and adjust their offering before they go out of business. And it also means the focus will move from B2C startups to B2B startups. It sounds like a good move to me since the European market isn’t able to support the growth of a B2C company unless they have at least €20M to €50M in funding to expand before looking at their bottom line. A situation that only heavy tech (fintech, biotech, medtech) can afford for now here on the Old continent.