i/o Ventures Partner Anne-Marie Roussel talks French startups & the Silicon Valley

Apr 15, 2013
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The following post is a guest post by Alexis Niki, a Paris-based founder & CEO of StoryNova, which provides concept and story strategy and development support. You can follow her at @AlexisNiki.

Anne Marie RousselLast week I was at MIP where I had a chance to catch up with French Silicon Valley-
based VC Anne-Marie Roussel, president of this year’s MIPCube Labs jury and a
partner in the i/o Ventures early stage startup program.

Roussel is an advisor and Executive-in-Residence with Illuminate Ventures, where her portfolio includes companies in mobile, gaming, social data analytics, and enterprise software. Prior to Illuminate Ventures, Roussel was Head of Acquisitions and Partnerships for Sharp Corporation. Before that, she managed the Digital Media and Mobile Communications portfolio for Microsoft, and before that she was Vice President at Gartner Group in Paris, France.

Roussel recently joined i/o Ventures, an initiative started in 2009 by Aber Whitcomb (co-founder, MySpace) Ashwin Navin (co-founder, BitTorrent), Paul Bragiel (co-founder of Lefora, Meetro and Paragon Five). Part of her mission is to branch out beyond the US and bring international (European and Asian) startups and investors to the incubator.

The program is competitive, accepting six to ten startups for a four-month program. Each startup receives a stipend of $25K, a workspace on the incubator’s premises, and intensive mentoring from both business and technology specialists. In exchange for this support, i/o Ventures receives an eight percent stake in the startups. At the end of the four months, there is a Demo Day during which the startups can pitch to select investors hand-picked by i/o Ventures. At least one French startup, Onefeat, has already been through the program.

Roussel says she is seeing more and more French entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, and she attributes the influx to the increasingly difficult climate in France. Because she understands where French entrepreneurs are coming from, she has developed a reputation for being able to point new French arrivals to Silicon Valley in the right direction.

MIPCube Lab StevieAs far as the MIPCube Lab startup competition was concerned, Roussel was pleased to see the ten finalists speaking to the actual needs of the TV and media industry. Pitches included user interface solutions, content recognition tools, and solutions for big
data and analytics and for the second screen. At the same time, she felt the startups were exclusively present-focused rather than future-reaching, as seems to be the tendency in the more visionary Silicon Valley. Nevertheless, right before bestowing the award on Israeli startup Stevie, the jury gave an honorable mention to Streamhub, and Roussel suggested that MIPCube consider awarding two awards next year, one for a B2B startup, and another for B2C. Roussel also had one piece of pitching advice for entrepreneurs: always start your pitch with a one-sentence description of what your business is. Apparently, only three of the ten startups did so! (For a how-to on this and other pitching tips, see 17 Storytelling Tips for Startups.)