21. September 2012–
You could safely say that Paris and Berlin are complete opposites – one tends to celebrate the finer things in life, while the other revels in all that is derelict and deviant. But French startup accelerator Le Camping aims to bridge the gap between the two cities, showcasing the top ten French startups from their programme for Berlin investors at yesterday's Le Camping Demo Day, held at Found Fair.
The startups each gave eight-minute pitches and ranged from musical tool Jellynote, which simplifies finding and sharing music scores in your browser, to ForgetBox, a kind of personal cloud integrated into your computer system, and Explee, an online software which makes life easier for you by creating customised videos from data.
One of the highlights was Augment, a mobile app that lets you visualise 3D products in real life by using a smartphone or tablet. The nifty app is aimed at eCommerce sites and solves the tricky question you always face when buying products online: would this sweet chair/lamp/foosball table actually look good in my home? By printing a marker and placing it where you want, for example, a new couch to go, Augment shows you what it would look like through a 3D image on your smartphone/tablet.
Another was Home 'n' Go, a startup aimed at tackling the challenging Parisian housing situation and promising to make house hunting less painful. Working to change the fact that finding a place to live is the third worst thing after getting a divorce and being fired, Home 'n' Go lets users put in specifications, such as proximity to good primary schools and being less than five minutes from a train station, and lists the relevant options. While met with criticism that solving the cutthroat demand for housing in Paris is an insurmountable challenge, this idea is one that could defiantly take off in other cities.
Le Camping is in Berlin for the first time after launching in 2011. The Demo Day has already taken place in Paris, with the pitches in London on the 28th of September the next and final step on the agenda for the 10 startups.
Le Camping manager Alice Zagury discussed the concept of the accelerator with me: "We take the same ingredients as any other accelerator but instead of being for three months, it's for six months. Because to raise big funds, people won't sign checks in one week... We've had some really big names at the Demo Days in Paris and London so far and some really great success stories, but it is harder in Berlin, it's harder to get into that investor network."
What's her take on the differences between startup scenes in Berlin, Paris and London?
"In Berlin you have creativity, you have cheap places to live and work, you have a lot of wannabe startups. In London, you have the money, but in Paris, we have the genius. I still see many ways to make working in these three cities complementary. Maybe we won't find the money here, but we will find an ecosystem and create a network across Europe."
Berlin investors at the Demo Day keen to get their hands on the next big thing coming out of France included representatives from e.ventures, Found Fair and Point Nine Capital, amongst others. We'll see – if any of the startups caught their eyes, we may well be seeing them around a lot more in the future.
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