Startup Europe. Grown up reporting.
Startup Europe. Grown up reporting.
Startup Europe. Grown up reporting
Startup Europe. Because the future isn’t where you expected
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A hundred of France's most exciting companies
But which are France’s most exciting startups? Which are the French startups to watch in 2020?
Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of nearly 100 exciting companies we think you need to know about, with an added “Sifted take” to provide an extra layer of insight on the most interesting.
Dig into our list below, and keep reading Sifted’s extensive coverage of French startups to stay informed about Europe’s new economy!
(P.S The data is from our partners at Dealroom.co. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).
It handles paperwork and payment and takes a cut. The company has also developed automatic photo-editing algorithms to improve shots and give images a consistent look; for example, so all Airbnb shots can be standardised.
The wacky thing about the French startups is not so much the idea but the amount of the money it has raised, taking in another $230m in investment in June 2019. Who knew there was so much money in photos?
The next step for the company is to open up to the consumer market. So one day you may be able to get your wedding photographer through Meero. Also worth watching is the progress of its artificial intelligence editing technology — the tech team expanded from 80 to 300 people according to the company.
Further reading: These are the 12 French startups with the fastest growing teams
On the back of this win, Alan started providing health insurance for employees of small companies, differentiating itself from the century-old industry giants such as Axa and Generali with a simple pricing structure and cheerful app.
Today it is seen as one of the most promising startups in France, targeting increasingly big companies and with a long-term mission to become a platform for a range of different healthcare services (for example, connecting people with doctors) and not just health insurance.
Alan has raised around €75m from the likes of Index Ventures and DST Global, and is seen as a potential future French unicorn.
Cofounder and chief executive Jean-Charles Samuelian told Sifted recently that he is pushing hard. “If we want to become the European champion of healthcare — becoming a gateway to the whole healthcare system — we need to be aggressive.”
One big question for the French startups is this though: can they begin to scale outside France? Another is: when will an insurance giant like Axa – with more or less limitlessly deep pockets – just snap them up?
Further reading: 4 questions for Alan cofounder Jean-Charles Samuelian
It was launched in Paris five years ago, and has been a runaway success in a crowded market, currently employing 750 people across 40 offices in France and Germany. It receives 30m online visits from patients each month.
The company is the continent’s best-funded healthcare booking app, having raised a total of €237m, including a €150m round in 2019 which took the company to ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of more than €1bn.
In 2018 Doctorlib made clear its big ambitions when it bought French startup rival MonDocteur, with the Doctorlib chief executive Stanislas Niox-Chateau saying they were looking across Europe.
The company is at some point set to run into its biggest rival Docplanner, the Polish medical booking platform, which raised €80m in a series-E funding round in 2019 as well. That, and the company could be looking to take out some more smaller players with its war chest.
Further reading: Docplanner and Doctolib are heading for a face-off
In short, the French startup specialises in securing the parts of computer networks that say who can access what data, which hackers obviously love to target as a way to get to confidential information.
The company has signed on the likes of Sanofi, Accor and Orange as customers, and in April raised $15m to fund its international expansion, from its existing presence in France and Hong Kong.
Alsid has nearly tripled its teams over the past year. On that point, being French is a clear advantage: the talent pool of mathematicians and scientists is ranked among Europe’s best, and has helped foster the country’s cybersecurity expertise.
Co-founders Emmanuel Gras and Luc Delsalle are actually great examples of the virtuous circle in the ecosystem. Before creating Alsid in 2016, they both worked as security auditors at France’s national cybersecurity agency ANSSI, and before that attended reputed engineering and IT universities.
The French startup raised €10m in June to build new features into its software and open 40 new positions in its offices in Lyon.
It’s typically the kind of upstart that France is extremely good at spawning: enterprise-aimed software solutions that cuts back costs and administrative hassle. In a country that has a reputation for generating monstruous quantities of paperwork, companies like Georges are usually more than welcome.
They are getting some consumer traction — at the end of last year, for example, Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket chain to start stocking edible insect snack-packs in its stores, after agreeing to a supply deal with UK-based Eat Grub.
French startup Ÿnsect is one of the leaders in this space but, for now, it has its sights on the more prosaic $500bn animal feed market.
Ÿnsect won $125m in funding in February 2019, which will go towards scaling up a highly-automated facility in France producing mealworms using techniques similar to those seen in indoor vertical farming (with the mealworms rotated around various optimised growing environments before meeting their end by being steamed, much like shrimp are).
Led by Antoine Hubert, the company has around 25 patents covering all aspects of its production techniques.
The challenge for Ynsect is regulation (weirdly the rules on what animals are allowed to eat are even stricter than the ones for humans) but also economics, as for now it’s reasonably expensive as a protein source.
Ÿnsect’s market at the moment is mainly hypoallergenic dog food because pampered pets are an area where the cost of the product is less of a consideration. Hubert says that chickens are next on his list.
Further reading: Ynsect CEO Antoine Hubert on entrepreneurship & edible insects
Led by Ludovic Le Moan it has raised nearly €300m since it was founded in 2010 and has some notable backers such as French gas giant Total and the entrepreneur Henri Seydoux.
But it’s had a tough few years. There are a number of competing technologies jockeying for position and the growth of IoT generally not being as explosive as some had hoped.
One such rival technology is Narrowband IoT (NBIoT), which has the backing of most of the large telecoms companies and has been deployed by more than 142 operators worldwide. Another rival LoRa, another rival technology, meanwhile, is being developed by an alliance that has more than 500 members, including companies like IBM, Cisco, HP and Foxconn.
By comparison, SigFox’s technology, also just called SigFox, is used by far less widely and it’s not been adopted by any global consortiums.
But the company is now working to get back on the front foot once again, recently telling Sifted that it was aiming for 1bn connected devices connected on its network by 2023 (up from 16m today).
Further reading: IoT arms race is on: Sigfox promises 1bn connections in three years
Drivers can’t really profit much, as the price for a passenger is only supposed to cover petrol and general wear and tear, so the company has not faced the same regulatory scrutiny as ride-hailing companies such as Uber.
The carpooling app, valued at €1.6bn, is expanding into long-distance bus journeys, where it faces stiff competition from fellow European FlixBus, amongst others.
The French startup has already acquired Ouibus, a bus operator travelling between big cities, and Busfor, an eastern European bus booking platform. It’s also making interesting moves in the shared commuting space with a new(ish) service in France, BlaBlaLines.
Further reading: Bigger than BlaBlaCar?
Founder Aziza Chaouachi says she started the service because her own flat was “too crappy” to rent through an Airbnb concierge, and she turned to friends for help instead.
The startup announced a $14m funding round in November, and is working on another one. Part of that money is going to international expansion, as the company ventures to US cities including New York.
Most of the investment though is technology. Behind Leavy’s platform, complex algorithms are at work studying travel trends and flows. That’s how the company decides in advance how much it’s going to pay hosts, regardless of whether anyone actually stays in their apartment.
Further reading: Europe’s answer to Airbnb is all about local community
La Courneuve, France
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