LeCamping: Season 4 Applications Open – Why should you apply?

Dec 11, 2012
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With Season 3 safely behind them, LeCamping has opened up applications to Season 4 of its 6 month accelerator program, which will go from March until August 2013. The applications are open today, available on their website, and will close at the end of January. The Paris-based accelerator has already seen 36 startups go through, with 55% raising funds & 60% with clients – clients, of course, is a very loose term, considering 60% of the startups are B2C, according to their most recent data (available below).

LeCamping – the only startup accelerator with international visibility

The accelerator boasts many attributes useful to French startups – English language pitch- practice, a network of 60-70 speakers & mentors who dedicate time to the startups, and, most notably, a very high level of PR. LeCamping is one of the only recognizable names in the Paris startup scene, more well known than French VCs or even most French startups, which isn’t saying much, but it certainly carries weight on a startup’s CV.

I’m very critical of accelerators in general in France, as I’m not convinced that there are so many startups that it is necessary to create an accelerator, nor that it does more good than harm – so I struggle to keep an unbiased opinion on this subject. Nonetheless, LeCamping continues to be a recognized name when I travel abroad, and with the 3 Demo Days that the 12 Season 3 startups did in Paris, Berlin & London, that international visibility is sure to grow down the road.

LeCamping Figures – how much money are these startups raising?

Having attended part of the LeCamping Season 3 closing ceremony, I was particularly interested in the data they shared. So far, 36 startups have raised €5 Million – on average, that would be €138,000 per startup, but we know that only 55% of startups (~20 startups) have raised money, so that numbers is closer to €250K per startup. This is not too far below the average seed round for French startups, and I’ll even assume that this is not including the €2M that LeCamping season 2 team doctrackr raised from Atlas Ventures earlier this year. But if we look at some of the ‘highlight’ companies in LeCamping and the amounts they’ve raised – qunb ($500k), both skerou & mesagraph raised nice seed rounds if I recall, but was unable to find figures online – these numbers quickly look dismal.

Nonetheless, quick & dirty, and even optimistic math tells us that the average startup going into LeCamping is coming out with, financially speaking, an amount that even Paris Business Angels: “The Startup Trap” would invest in.

Then again, maybe it isn’t all about money. After all, LeCamping offers free workspace and doesn’t take any stake in their companies, which is what allowed the aforementioned doctrackr to go to Techstars Boston afterwards, or onefeat to go to I/O Ventures – these VCs & US Accelerators only take in companies with no prior investment rounds, even from other accelerators.

Networking is invaluable to young entrepreneurs, and LeCamping’s data revealed that their founders are just that, young – and male, for some reason. The average founder age is under 28 (vs. 33 in Paris and 34 in Silicon Valley),  and 95% Male (92% in Paris, 90% in SV), these young guns have one thing that other ecosystems statistically lack, however: higher education. With 90+% of founders in LeCamping coming from a masters background (95% in Paris, 71% in SV), these young guns are fresh out of HEC or ESCP, and ready to change the world – although 40% reported having previous experience in a startup (37% in Paris, 56% in SV). The numbers sure do paint a picture.

As Paris’ most promising accelerator, I hope to see LeCamping evolve in the upcoming seasons, taking on startups that will execute and produce global leaders. LeCamping’s reputation today is of one that is “really trying,” and while it has taken on some pretty amazing startups (I’m personally a big fan of veez.io & augment for their technical work), it sometimes feels that the success of those startups takes a back seat to the success of LeCamping as a brand. LeCamping has indeed built a strong brand, and if it started leveraging that brand for its startups, the way Techstars and Y-Combinator have been able to do, I have no doubt it could become a globally powerful accelerator.

Of course, this is all based on you, startupers, since LeCamping is only as strong & successful as the startups the join it. If you’ve got a global idea, and you think LeCamping can take your startup to the next level, then get your founders together and apply today!

LeCamping Closing Ceremony of Season 3 Presentation