Why you should care about the LeWeb Startup Competition: the Winners always raise money.

Dec 2, 2013
Vote on Hacker News


LeWeb is only a week away, and those who plan ahead have already begun looking at the Speaker Schedule to figure out when to listen & when to network. Personally, I’ve blocked off most of the first morning to sit and listen to speakers – it’s a pretty strong line-up to start – but I’ve also made a point to watch at least a few of the startups in the pitch competition.

People always ask me about startup competitions – whether it’s the Web Summit, Pioneers, the Pirate Summit, Start in Paris or otherwise – “is it worth it to compete?” and my answer is always “Just do the math.” That is, if your goal is to raise money (especially as a 6-12month goal), look at previous editions of the competitions: if the startups who won the previous edition raised money, then you have a better chance of doing the same (if you win).

For LeWeb, the odds look pretty good. Looking at the LeWeb Paris 2012 finalists – Qunb (1st), bebound (2nd), & recommend (3rd) – you’ll see that they each raised seed rounds (500K, 700K, and 450K€, respectively) following the event. The winner, qunb, also went on to join TechStars Boston earlier this year.

Looking at LeWeb London, the winner, Pricing Assistant, also announced a 500,000€ round of funding shortly after winning.

Bebound CEO Albert Szluman says that, since their second place prize at LeWeb Paris 2012, the team has gone on to raise not only 700K€ from private investors, but an additional 500K€ or so in R&D grant money from OSEO, and has opened an SF office after participating in the US MAC program, which helps foreign companies launch in the US. They launched their beta 3 weeks ago and currently have 32,000 downloads of their product, which allows smartphone users to stay connected to the internet, whether connected to a 4G or 2G network.

The Art of Picking Winners

You may remember that the aforementioned list of winners is the same three startups that LeWeb Paris judge Jacques-Antoine Granjon closed out the event by saying ‘we didn’t pick the finalists, we only ordered them’ [understood, from most bad to least bad]. This denouncement was seen as a pretty big blow to the winners at the time, but clearly didn’t inhibit their success – nor did it inhibit the Vente Privée founder from returning to judge startups against this year.

While I will not be the first person to say that there are too many pitch competitions, that they aren’t good for founders, and that some of them are just there as filler for a conference, I think that LeWeb is and remains the exception to this rule. Personally, I’ve already thrown in my hat for infographic service Infogr.am, who is competing in the 2013 competition, but I’ll have to look at the rest of the startups before I make my final assessment.

On the one hand, LeWeb attracts a critical mass of investors – both at the conference and via the media presence – meaning that LeWeb might be one of the most-watched ‘demo days’ around, amplifying the demand for startups due to the very knowledge that every investor has seen them at the same time.

Whether it’s their ability to attract great companies or their critical mass of media presence is irrelevant, because data speaks. And that data tells me that the three finalists of LeWeb Paris 2013 are going to raise money, if that haven’t already, and that the winner is going to be a company to watch in 2014.

Note: You may have heard about the after party that TheFamily & Rude Baguette are organizing – The Other Night – if not, now you have. Tickets are currently on sale here, and we are offering a 35% discount code to all LeWeb Attendees. In order to get your discount code, like my profile on the LeWeb social networking tool (only available to attendees, sorry) and I’ll message you the code!