When I used to write on my personal blog, I would write articles about places & events just hours after I visited them, in order to thoroughly give my First Impressions. They were not meant to be my final judgment of something, but merely my ‘customer feedback’ as a visitor to something. I thought I’d pick this habit back up.
After having visited Lille about twenty times, today I finally took part of my “away from Paris” time to go visit EuraTechnologies, Lille’s gargantuan cathedral of a technical park which is home to over a hundred startups. I had heard a bit about EuraTechnologies before, and when I posted on twitter about wanting to meet startups in Lille, I was quickly advised to go there and knock on doors.
Arriving in front of the gargantuan building, I was blown away at the combination of the stereotypical brick architecture that characterizes homes in the North of France, and the traces of the infamous post-it wars that now signal homes of startups in any commercial district. I had the pleasure to be welcomed by Mashant CEO Emmanuel Clabaut, who just launched his Developer Social Network just 7 days ago. They’ve been hosted for free at one of the two accelerators (one dedicated just to eCommerce) at Euratechnologies.
Looking to create a developer network to take on GeekList, Linkedin, and Facebook, they showed me the cafeteria, the atrium where frequent conferences are held, & they showed me the floor that CapGemini occupies in the building. One of Euratechnologies core goals is to intertwine the work environments of startups and big companies like Microsoft & Deloitte – an entire list of the companies is available on their site.
Startups at Euratechnologies can first enter for free upon application into one of the accelerators – there are currently around 50 startups hosted in the accelerator, according to Euratechnologies’ Samuel Tapin. Once done, the startups can grab an office with twenty square meters for just €1 500… per year. Yeah, an office that fits five people comfortably for just over €100 per month, or €20 per person per month. That’s a steal.
A Few Sexy Startups in Lille
While I was there, I took the opportunity to meet a few startups that had some buzz around them, and was excited to see some familiar faces and names. I ran into Libertrip, a startup which I met just before they launched their beta last year. One of many visionaries looking to help me plan my vacation for the next year, they recently spent two weeks at one of Stanford’s startup seminars, and looked more charged that ever. We’ll be talking more about them in August, when they open their site up to the public.
I got a chance to talk to Balumpa, a startup working on helping me find events going on around me all over France. While they are not planning on internationalizing their product for another year (which makes sense, since in order to be strong in the local market, you have to think local), they’ve managed to gather up 30,000 downloads of their iOS app in their first five months. They recently signed a partnership with French car-maker Renault[FR], which will put their application inside of a new suite of Electric cars which will have a custom Android tablet build into the car’s dashboard. They will be one of 50 applications on the tablet’s private AppStore, and one of the only startups selected for the partnership.
I also took a chance to peak in on Critizr, intrigued by the information outside their office. Their startup is looking to bring GetSatisfaction-style customer feedback to physical locations, like restaurants, by allowing users to give their feedback directly via their smartphone. Unlike Yelp, the feedback doesn’t just sit on a community forum, but is pushed directly to the manager (or, in my head, the obligatory Restauarant Community Manager), who can quickly respond directly to the feedback. The feedback can be ‘thumbed up’ by other customers, much like GetSatisfaction.
Conclusion: I’ll be back!
I was definitely blown away with the atmosphere and the number of startups working in this one building – although, that’s just step one. The fact that they mix them in with offices for big companies, and they offer support and financing(EuraTechnologies, I believe, is financed by Lille – how else could rent be that cheap). I will be making an active effort to keep tabs on all of the startups hosted there – courtesy of EuraTechnologies wonderful communications department – and I’m sure we’ll be hearing about the startups I mentioned and many more in the coming months as they shake-up their respective sectors.
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