FailCon France – teaching European businesses to embrace mistakes



The easy stories to get are the tales of success. It’s harder, and often more useful, to get people talking about epic co-founder bustups or what it’s like to get “diluted to all hell” after too many funding rounds.

San Fran-founded conference FailCon is set up to change that, and is coming back to Europe this year, starting with FailCon France in Paris on September 25. Co-organised by Cass Phillipps (original Failcon co-founder) and Roxanne Varza (ex-TechCrunch France), the one-day conference will feature speakers including Partech Ventures partner Philippe Collombel, Friendsclear CEO Jean Capelli, Viadeo GM Olivier Fecherolle, Teleportd’s Gabriel Hubert and Soundcloud VP of marketing Thom Cummings.

Failcon France 2011

Not your typical conference slide: Sprouter founder Sarah Prevette @ FailCon France 2011

Phillipps (below) started up FailCon in 2009 with Diane Loviglio. As the event franchise has expanded to France, Brazil and Australia, and to Germany, Sweden, Singapore and India later this year, it’s proving easier to attract top speakers (top brass from Uber, Airbnb, MySpace and the New York Times, for example).

Embracing the facepalm

Although some still have trouble talking about failure openly:

Cass Phillipps“I am regularly surprised at how many amazing people want the opportunity to speak at FailCon and acknowledge how difficult their journey has been,” Phillipps says.

“However, I also find that many say they want to speak, but then join with wishy-washy subjects that aren’t really about failure, just that something was hard. So speakers frequently need a lot of coaching.”

At the first FailCon France, last year, a dozen audience members stood to share their own personal failures and startup struggles. “It was an incredible feeling to see a culture that I was told would simply not share stand and do just that,” Phillipps says.

So do Europeans really have a harder time talking about failure than their US counterparts? “That’s definitely a broad statement,” she says. “In the US, talk of failure is equally difficult, it’s really just Silicon Valley that stands out in that regard as being more accepting of it.”

Win tickets to FailCon

If you’d like to try out FailCon France for yourself, we’ve got two tickets (worth €55 each) to give away. Write us at with a tale of business failure (your story or someone else’s) and we’ll put you in the draw, which we’ll close on September 1st.

“Facepalm” image credit: Flickr user striatic


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