Rude Baguette is out in Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress, and, more actively, speaking at 4YFN, a conference built inside of MWC which has quickly become a major focal point for Spain’s largest tech gathering. In addition to VR announcement, most notable this year is the presence by LaFrenchTech, which matches the presence it had across almost every major technology event – Web Summit, SLUSH, & CES earlier this year – in the past 9 months.
After its strong success in Las Vegas last month, LaFrenchTech is back as a major partner of 4YFN, organizing a 3-day IoT hackathon and hosting a variety of panels and pitches to France’s top tech companies (Drivy, SIGFOX, and others). Their strong presence has already got attendees noticing – though some of their messages come off a bit forced. “France is Innovative” “France is Startup-Friendly” & “France is Mobile-Tastic” leaflets filled the speaker & press lounge, leaving at least some feeling like the blunt message was gave off a certain self-aware self-conscious je ne sais quoi.
"if you have to say it, it's probably not true" @benjrooney on @LaFrenchTech at #4YFN #MWC16 pic.twitter.com/VTQUVwAvI4
— Liam Boogar-Azoulay (@LiamBoogar) February 22, 2016
Still, LaFrenchTech has got people speaking, and they’ve got French entrepreneurs getting out of their skin and talking to people – in Finland, in the US, in Spain – and it’s got people outside of France talking about France again. Shaping that message in the next 18 months (before the next presidential election) will be key in order for LaFrenchTech to show the result of its efforts (& budget), which has begun to receive criticism from French journalists & entrepreneurs, looking for a tangible ROI to the communication initiative that started 3 years ago.
What I found more interesting at 4YFN has been the utter lack of awareness of VivaTechnology, which self-identifies as the 4YFN of Paris – while I fully embrace the ambitiousness of the initiative (having anyone organize tech events in English in France is great for us, especially if we don’t have to pay for it), I’m curious to see how they will raise awareness outside of France. Events like 4YFN are key, not only for doing business, but for establishing the roadmap of tech events for the rest of the year.
I’m happy to meet with Connected Conference attendees evangelizing our conference for us, or meeting them after our sessions on the Future of Health & Wearables. I’m also spending time introducing them to our special invite-only #ParisFounders October edition that we’ll be speaking more about in the coming weeks. But when I spoke to the people I see at all the major tech conferences, not only had they not made up their mind on VivaTech, they hadn’t heard of it. Surely that will change in the coming weeks when first speakers are announced and there is more clarity on the event, but, for now, it remains obscure in France, and unknown abroad.