Since arriving in France, I’ve noticed a very strange phenomenon. You see, whenever I introduce myself, it inevitably comes up that I was born in Menlo Park, just up the road from Stanford University, and that’s always been a way for me to gauge someone’s experience in the Silicon Valley – if they recognize “Menlo Park,” they’ve likely been in SV for more than 6 months, if they recognize “Palo Alto” they’ve either been to SV once or are planning to go there soon, and if I have to say i’m from “San Francisco,” then there’s no way they’ve ever been there. As this continued to come up, I also noticed something strange.
There seem to be a lot of French entrepreneurs who have gone to Stanford, either for a masters, or a year abroad, or just a summer program – nonetheless, it’s always Stanford University, MS in Engineering. In addition, I have found that some of my favorite entrepreneurs (those who I suspect will have the most success) have usually done time at Stanford, to a point where, if I get good enough vibes from an entrepreneur, I can guess with a certain accuracy if they’ve studied at Stanford.
In the Startup Genome Report’s recently release, they noted that 9% of French entrepreneurs had spent time in the Silicon Valley – I suspect that a fair amount of those 9% are the Stanford graduates or pseudo-graduates below:
- Matthieu Rouif – HeyCrowd: Placed 2nd in LeWeb 2011(here), and has seen explosive growth in the UK & France since then.
- Antoine Durieux – Jêrome: Dropped out of Stanford to continue working on Chef Jerome – curently in the process of signing a deal with a major grocery chain.
- Gabriel Hubert + Stanislas Polu – Teleportd: just raised $1 million for their product, Nitrogram, which provide Instagram Analytics.
- Thomas France – Prixing: raised €1.75 million in funding this year for their Social Shopping app.
- Frederic Mazzella – Blablacar: Currently active in nine European countries, raised over $12 million from international VCs, and successfully rolled out their business model for their marketplace. Leader in Europe.
- Guillaume Dupuy + Alexandre Point – Fleex: Just finished LeCamping season three, achieved much press in the past 6 months.
- Stanislas Marion + Louis Chatriot – tldr.io: accepted into Seedcamp Paris today.
Lastly, I’d like to point out that Euratechnologies, the Lille-based incubator/accelerator that is home to 100+ startups, including Adictiz, who recently raised a round of funding, has a deal with Stanford, in which Euratechnologies-incubated founders are invited out to stanford for a week for entrepreneurship courses, followed by Stanford professors coming out to Lille for a week to teach them there. The first edition occurred this past year, and it looks to be an ongoing, successful relationship.
I didn’t have to strain to think of achievements the above startups have had, nor is that an exhaustive list of founders from Stanford (feel free to add in the comments section); these entrepreneurs have all impressed me in one way or another with their ability to mix what they’ve learned in France with what they’ve learned at Stanford. I’ve always said that combining French developers and SV business guys would be a lethal combination; these entrepreneurs did me one better and did a year over there all by themselves, and now they don’t even need us dime-a-dozen biz guys to build great companies.