French Ministers Segolene Royal & Emmanuel Macron with Consul Pauline Carmona
Evercontact was thrilled to help organize the official launch of La French Tech San Francisco on January 8th, made even more special by the attendance of French government Ministers Emmanuel Macron and Segolene Royal.
We spoke to organizers Reza Malekzadeh, President of the French Alumni Association, and Philippe Laval, Evercontact founder and active FrenchTech SF member, to get a bit of background information on the initiative and an update on their activities, as well as the party!
What exactly is La French Tech?
Reza: La French Tech is an initiative which aims to help entrepreneurs get set up abroad and to promote French businesses around the world.
“La French Tech” refers to all the people working for or with French startups , in France or abroad. This ecosystem is made up of entrepreneurs, obviously, but also investors, engineers, designers, developers, associations, bloggers, media, big companies, and government agencies… All the players who are working towards startups’ growth and international promotion, including Ubi i/o, The French American Chamber of Commerce, French Tech Hub, etc.
The official organization was launched in 2013 to support French startups expanding internationally. The goal is to show newly arriving entrepreneurs the ropes and foster relationships and growth, under the umbrella “La French Tech.”
Why San Francisco?
Philippe: There are 60-70,000 French people living in the Bay Area right now, with lots of those working at tech companies. FrenchTech is flourishing internationally. It has already made its mark in New York and needed to have an official presence in San Francisco.
And obviously people are enthusiastic! There are already more than 2,500 members in various social media networks, and monthly events organized by several French tech partners including French Alumni but also French Tech Meetup, French Founders, DBF, The French American Chamber of Commerce, French Tech Hub, and Parisoma.
How did you personally start to get involved?
Reza: I’m the President of the French Alumni Association, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, and we wanted to be the driving force behind this project. But also the project is really interesting to me personally. I think France has a huge potential and a special place in the tech eco-system, and it would be a shame to not highlight this and to have a “brand image” as strong as other expatriat communities like India’s and Israel’s.
Philippe: Evercontact received a lot of help from the French network when we arrived in San Francisco, and from Ubi France. Now that we have been here for 8 months, we want to pay it forward and promote “Brand France” not just in the Bay Area tech scene, but throughout California and the US.
Evercontact’s Philippe Laval with Emmanuel Macron
France is more known for its expertise in areas like luxury goods and food, is there a reason to take French tech companies seriously?
Philippe: Well obviously France has a well known rich cultural heritage, but also a long history of business and tech innovation. Scientific invention is not new to France, and the word entrepreneur not only originally comes comes from French, but the entrepreneurial spirit lives on to this day.
We spoke about the French tradition of technical discoveries and entrepreneurship when discussing La French Touch New York Conference, and there are even more concrete facts to support this. For example, 3 French companies have entered Nasdaq listings in the past 2 years, and, according to Deloitte, France has more companies in hyper-growth mode than any other country in Europe.
Evercontact’s Solange Murat with Emmanuel Macron
What are the future plans for La French Tech SF?
Philippe: We see FrenchTechSF as being part of a larger community, locally in the Bay Area startup community, and also on a larger scale as a bridge between French tech companies and the national community of startups.
Our plan is to play a leading role in nurturing collaborative projects with the US startup ecosystem, to create more exchanges with other international and local communities and to grow alongside them. As an international company with offices in Paris and San Francisco, we have a lot to offer and to learn from other companies facing the same challenges.
Reza: Our next step is to continue communication and promote the FrenchTech players in San Francisco, so that the startup community gets to know our “brand.” It’s something that needs both deep roots and long term nurturing to grow. As we help brand-new arrivals and promote the success of those already established locally, French entrepreneurs will get more and more local recognition.
Segolene Royal & Emmanuel Macron greet La French Tech, with Reza Malekzadeh Philippe Laval, Vannina Malekzadeh,Geraldine Le Meur, Solange Murat, Ludovic Ulrich, Laurence Fabre, Yseulys Coste, Alexis Ross, Michel Morvan, Philippe Perez.
It seems like a big deal to have the French Economy and Ecology Ministers there, how did that happen? Who else made it?
Philippe: Emmanuel Macron, the Economy Minister, is very enthusiastic about working with growing companies and a real sponsor for French Tech.
He, along with Segolene Royal, the Minister of Ecology, were in the US to accompany the strong showing of French tech companies at this year’s CES, where France came in 2nd place just after the US, so they took advantage of the trip to come and help us inaugurate French Tech in San Francisco.
How does a new member get involved? Do I have to be French?
The best way is to join the French Tech SF via our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. As you’ll see, there are lots of different ways to be active within the community, whether as an ambassador, investor or by getting involved with our partners. And of course, as a big part of our vision is to create ties with other communities, anyone in the tech scene who is interested in working with us is welcome!