What is the point of La FrenchTouch Conference?

Jun 24, 2014
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New-York-in-Paris1

This week 200-300 entrepreneurs, business angels, and other actors in the startup ecosystem will gather in New York City for a conference about startups, with a bit of a French twist. The twist is that the majority of the speakers, as well as many of the attendees, are French.

La FrenchTouch Conference (LFTC – June 26th/27th) was created by Gael Duval, a French serial entrepreneur who wanted to take control of France’s international perception, and, according to Cedric Giorgi, LFTC’s program manager, the goal is “to gather in one place two ecosystems: FrenchTech and New York Tech.”

The conference won’t be talking uniquely about the French market; indeed, the idea is to take successful entrepreneurs based in France, combine them with French entrepreneurs based in New York (of which there are many), as well as New York entrepreneurs.

Of course, the conference isn’t all ‘rah rah Go France’ – rather, the LFTC addressed sectors & topics where French players have been particularly successful, such as HealhTech, the new media landscape, AdTech & the Sharing Economy.

The conference will take place over two days at AXA & Air France’s respective New York offices, and will feature New York companies like Vayable alongside French companies like MangoPay. It will highlight a few “Success Stories” – SIGFOX, Criteo, Eventbrite (whose CTO, Renaud Visage, is French). Lastly, the conference has brought out 12 startups, 6 seed and 6 growth stage, to show off France’s next generation of startups. They include 1001 Menus (who raised €1.35M from Elaia last year), Pricing Assistant, Clic & Walk, Jellynote, Racontr, Mirakl, Augment, Tinyclues, Shopmium, Recommend, Selectionnist & Beloola.

The value added of the conference is clear: “Create better connections between attendees, sparks for future collaborations, partnerships, investments,” says Giorgi; however, for this first edition, it will have to be seen whether LFTC accomplishes its primary objectives. From the line-up, it looks like there are a few big-name NYC Startups & VCs attending: Quirky & Tinder are on the list, so is FirstMark (though Matt Turck is French) and so are writers from Fortune, & TechCrunch.

The “point” of LFTC, it seems, is to create better relationships between NYC & Paris – while I’m not sure that two days of conferences on topics that have no common thread other than ‘France’ is really the catalyst needed to foster such relationships, the fact that Duval & LFTC, alongside sponsors AXA & Air France, are willing to invest in bringing out 12 young startups along with 50 or so accomplished entrepreneurs, not to mention a handful of New York Tech entrepreneurs, is impressive in itself, and a noble pursuit.