Smack dab in the middle of the monstrous Mobile World Congress’ Hall 5, sits France’s French Pavillion. As with other big, developed markets, Ubifrance (for the 7th consecutive year) works to put some of France’s most interesting mobile companies on display and organizes business meetings for them with potential partners in other markets. Many of these are startups and PMEs, so this offers them a great opportunity to expand their visibility with an international audience.
Of course none of this is free, costing from 2.7k€ for startups to 3.6k€ or 6.4k€ (post-subsidy of course) for more established firms. But, with the sheer volume of people who go through MWC each year (67k by last count and probably more this year with the colassal new venue) it’s probably not a bad deal. As mentioned in our MWC article on Monday, there were approximately 130 companies participating this year (either with or without a dedicated booth), making France the country with the biggest national pavilion. Here’s the list again from Ubifrance with all the companies participating there. Some of these we’ve written about and, as such, are well known Rude Baguette readers, including Adictiz, Bulkypix, DXO Labs, Recommerce Solutions, and Appsfire. However as MWC proves each year, there are many more great French startups and PMEs to discover.
A few insights from my first stroll through the French Pavillion:
Who says the French can’t pitch?
As there are so many companies to talk to at MWC and there’s never enough time, I didn’t really have very much time to speak to as many companies as I would have liked since arriving. Only having about 30 mins today to meet, chat, get a demo from and ‘interview’ 4 companies in this time, I was impressed that they were able to pitch me their business in such a clear and succinct way. Although conventional wisdom is that French entrepreneurs tend to struggle with this, I’m willing to bet that all the emphasis in France on this issue in recent years has moved the needle on this. Of course I only got the chance to see a handful today, so we’ll see what the next two days bring.
Security, healthcare, and connected city solutions on the rise
Although this is not at all a scientifically based analysis, there do seem to be more of these types of products and services on offer. From parentsaround.com who that help parents secure their children’s use of devices to neosesame who offer a backend-as-a-service solution for e-health and well-being as well as digital homes and smart cities to Withings who make health / well-being devices and apps, French companies are definitely delivering some interesting innovation in these areas.
Yes there’s stuff going on outside of the Paris Region
We’ve covered many startups outside of the Paris region, including BIME, Clevercloud, Appcooker, Storific, as well as 100 startup strong incubator Euratechnologies. However, we always want to discover and cover more. By adding a regional element to the exhibition, it helps to highlight companies that may otherwise get lost in the shuffle. Sure the good chuck of France’s tech and startup activity is in Ile-de-France, but it doesn’t mean that there’s not some real gems to be discovered in ‘la province’.
A good guide makes a world of difference
One of may favorite little tools was the French Pavillion guide, which is also integrated within the MWC app (even better), and has a very nice succinct description about each company. This may seem elementary, but when you’re short on time, which we media folk often are, and trying to sift through which 100+ companies to talk to, this is a BIG help. It’s also a great source to take away and reference when you want info on a particular company. As much as France can replicate this type of thing for all international events it participates in, the better.
Maybe a bit more ‘flash’ next year?
When going through the halls of the Congress, there are so many companies, booths and people, that eventually you kind of start to daze over. So, it’s always helpful to have a booth or demo area that breaks you out your slumber. While the French Pavillion certainly had no shortage of high quality companies, we all know that marketing and promotion are integral to getting your brand, product or service noticed. So maybe they might want to consider adding a bit more French flair and swag next year. French music – Gainsbourg, Claude François? Champagne – ok a bit too much during the times of austerity…Petit Chablis? Petits fours? 🙂
We’re always saying that even with it’s myriad of business development agencies, France needs to do a better job of promoting around the world the great innovation and tech businesses that France has to offer. Conferences obviously are just once piece of this effort, but what I saw at this year’s MWC was a solid effort.