The Parisian startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

These are the startups driving innovation in the heart of France — one of Europe's key tech ecosystems.

Paris is home to some of the most hyped startups in Europe and boasts a dynamic tech ecosystem. Startups such as Doctolib, Alan and Agricool are just some of those at the forefront of the continent’s new economy.

Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of Parisian startups and scaleups we think you need to know about, with an added “Sifted take” one some to provide an extra layer of insight on the most interesting.

(P.S The data is from European Startups with valuation estimates from Dealroom. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).

Key

Year founded

Amount raised

Last funding round

Valuation

Employees

Meero's logo

Meero

Matches professional photographers with clients to produce beautiful images in a snap

media / content production

meero.com

Paris, France

2016

€269m

SERIES C

€909m

1000-5000

Sifted Take

At its core Meero is a global marketplace for photographers, which companies can use to get professional photos done quickly — for example of commercial property for rent or clothes for sale. It handles paperwork and payment and takes a cut.

Meero works with the likes of Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Airbnb, and claims to deliver one photoshoot every 25 seconds. The wacky thing about the company is not so much the idea but the amount of money it has raised, taking in $45m investment in 2018 and another $230m in 2019. Who knew there was so much money in photos?

Meero's CEO, Thomas Rebaud, is optimistic about the company's valuation. “The photography market globally is worth between $80bn and $100bn. The question we asked is: can Meero grab 5% of that enormous market?” he told Sifted. “I think we can.”

Read more: Could Meero’s founder be the next Emmanuel Macron?

Alan's logo

Alan

Reshaping health insurance

insurance / health

alan.eu

Paris, France

2016

€310m

SERIES D

€800m

100-500

Sifted Take

Back in 2016 French startup Alan won a French insurance licence. This may not sound like a big deal, but it was the first one that has been awarded since the 1980s, allowing the young team to have a crack at disrupting the country’s €36bn health insurance market.

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.

Cofounder and chief executive Jean-Charles Samuelian has told Sifted that he is pushing hard to expand the offering. “If we want to become the European champion of healthcare — becoming a gateway to the whole healthcare system — we need to be aggressive.”

Further reading: 4 questions for Alan cofounder Jean-Charles Samuelian Inside Alan: the French healthtech startup with no meetings and transparent salaries

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Doctolib's logo

Doctolib

Medical booking platform

health / health platform

doctolib.fr

Paris, France

2013

€237m

LATE VC

€1bn

1000-5000

Sifted Take

Doctolib is an online platform where customers can book medical appointments with healthcare professionals, who pay a monthly subscription fee to be hosted on the site.

Launched in 2013, it has been a runaway success in a crowded market, currently employing around 1,400 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.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Doctolib jumped from 1,000 to 100,000 video consultations per day in just a month and, speaking to Sifted at the time, said it was looking to hire a further 3,000 people.

Read more: Why Doctolib is hiring 3,000 people (hint: it’s not Covid)

Pennylane 's logo

Pennylane

Pennylane, launched in 2020, is a book keeping startup.

fintech / saas

pennylane.tech

Paris , France

2020

€34m

LATE VC

€16-24m

50-100

Sifted Take

Launched in 2020, Pennylane supplies business with real-time financial data, providing more insight than a typical third-party accountant — though they hope this will support accountants, rather than bypass them.

In January 2021, the fintech raised $18.4m in a Series A round that included Global Founders Capital and Partech. Pennylane’s services are now used by over 500 customers, all based in France, and it reported $2.4m in revenue at the end of last year.

It’s also on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

Leavy's logo

Leavy

Online community-based short-term rental platform

travel; social network /

leavy.co

Paris, France

2017

€17m

CONVERTIBLE

€51-76m

50-100

Sifted Take

Leavy is an Airbnb of sorts: an online platform for short-term rentals. The twist is a heavier reliance on community, whose members can for instance make money by taking care of listed homes and showing guests around their city.

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.

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

Altaroad's logo

Altaroad

Developing an industrial IoT platform for infrastructure to optimize transport and logistics

Greentech / Iot

altaroad.com

Paris, France

2017

€5mm

2020

€12—18m

10-50

Sifted Take

Altaroad is a rare deep tech startup founded by three women: Cécile Villette, Bérengère Lebental and Rihab Jerbi. The company has raised €5m and Challenges magazine named it one of 100 startups to watch.

The company employs custom algorithms and sensors placed in and on roadways to record vehicles’ weights. This data helps ensure that the trucks entering and leaving the construction zone are within load limits, decreasing their potential of damaging bridges and other highway infrastructure. The startup’s sensors also aim to monitor road degradation, so repairs can be planned before potholes form.

Spendesk's logo

Spendesk

Smart spend management software

enterprise software / payments

spendesk.com

Paris, France

2016

€61m

SERIES B

€175m

100-500

Sifted Take

The fintech helps companies manage company expenses with digital interfaces and physical pre-paid (pre-approved) cards. It also offers real-time, business-wide spend analysis, tracking subscriptions and office orders.

Competitors include Soldo, Pleo, and Ivalua — but it’s in over 30 countries already. Remaining focused on SMEs, there are over 40k people using the service, from Wefox to Curve.

It raised $56.4m across two Series B rounds, with participation from Eight Roads Ventures.

PayFit's logo

PayFit

Simplifying payroll management

fintech; enterprise software / financial management solutions

payfit.com

Paris, France

2015

€180m

SERIES D

€280-420m

100-500

Sifted Take

Ask around Paris for hot startups, and everyone will mention Payfit.

It’s not glamorous. It’s an HR software company focused on simplifying payroll management, expense reports, as well as absences and leave of your employees. But it is the real deal.

The company started with the founders Firmin Zocchetto, Ghislain de Fontenay and Florian Fournier translating the ultra-complex French Labour Code into plain computer code and evolved from there.

The company now has more than 3,000 customers in France, Germany, Spain and the UK and is growing fast. In June 2019 the company raised a fresh €70m from Eurazeo and Bpifrance and plans to double its workforce by 2020.

ManoMano's logo

ManoMano

Gardening and DIY community

home living /

manomano.fr

Paris, France

2013

€633m

SERIES F

€500-750m

500-1000

Sifted Take

ManoMano operates an e-commerce website for DIY, home improvement and gardening products. That may not sounds like much, but its huge. In 2019 alone, the company grew by 50%, with €600m in gross merchandise value. The company has raised more than €300m in funding.

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Lydia's logo

Lydia

All your payment needs - in one app

payments / mobile app

lydia-app.com

Paris, France

2011

€142m

SERIES B

€313-469m

100-500

Sifted Take

Lydia scored France its largest fintech round in history, raising $86m in its Series B in December 2020. Led by Accel and supported by Tencent, the round brought its total fundraise to $131m.

The app allows people to pay each other quickly and easily, helping coin the phrase “Je te fais un Lydia” — I’ll Lydia you. Now it offers debit cards and direct deposit capabilities, and recorded 100% growth in volumes in 2020. Now it services 4m customers.

However, it pulled out of the UK earlier in the year, we’re keeping an eye on any international moves. It also plans to be profitable by late 2021 — and if that’s not aiming high enough, it reportedly hopes to be France’s first fintech unicorn.

It’s also on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

Read our intelligence report on the French tech revolution to find out more.

BlaBlaCar's logo

BlaBlaCar

Connecting drivers with empty seats to people looking for a ride

travel; transportation / mobility

blablacar.com

Paris, France

2006

€510m

CONVERTIBLE

€1.6bn

500-1000

Sifted Take

BlaBlaCar has been around since 2006 and is one of France’s first unicorns (valued at over $1bn). The service connects drivers traveling from one city to another with travelers headed the same way, and operates across Europe and markets such as Russia and Mexico.

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 company has already acquired Ouibus, a bus operator traveling 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: Blablacar’s big plan for long-distance buses

Yubo's logo

Yubo

Social platform where Generation Z creates communities of friends around the world

social media / social media

yubo.live

Paris , France

2016

€51m

SERIES C

€160-240m

50-100

Sifted Take

Yubo, a Paris-based startup created by 27-year-old Sacha Lazimi, is tailored to teenagers and young adults, promising a better experience than Snapchat or TikTok thanks to more chatting and less passive scrolling.

Lazimi is convinced that digital natives are hungry for online interactions that focus on just having a nice time with peers — with no influencers and followers, likes to try and gather, or online showing off to do.

“The point isn’t to gain followers or even to make new friends — it’s just to share a moment in real-time with similar people,” Lazimi tells Sifted. “It’s about live social interaction.”

And so far teenagers seem to be enjoying it. Yubo launched in October 2015 and recruited 5m users in the first year.

Further reading: Who’s Yubo? Europe’s Snapchat for teens has 40m users

Alsid's logo

Alsid

A cybersecurity provider that protects companies’ Microsoft Active Directory installation from hackers

cybersecurity; cloud; saas; enterprise software /

alsid.com

Paris, France

2016

€15m

EARLY VC

€52-78m

50-100

Sifted Take

Alsid has built a reputation by focusing on a niche in the otherwise crowded cybersecurity space: the so-called active directory, which is used by a vast majority of large corporations to manage identities.

In short, the 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 2019 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.

Cofounders 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.

Qonto's logo

Qonto

Provides online banking services to small businesses

fintech / business banking

qonto.eu

Paris , France

2016

€136m

SERIES C

€416-624m

100-500

Sifted Take

In January 2020, Paris-based Qonto raised a whopping €104m in its Series C round — at the time this was the largest ever funding round for a French fintech.

Its been hiring all of 2020, its services are used by 120k companies, and its latest round was funded by Tencent, Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures and more. And according to Hadrien Comte of Gaia Capital Partners, Qonto and Shine are responsible for France's emergence as a 'prosumer' leader, i.e. attractive to professionals over consumers.

It’s also on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

Read our intelligence report on the French tech revolution to find out more.

Ledger's logo

Ledger

Provides security and infrastructure solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications

fintech / cryptocurrency

ledger.com

Paris, France

2014

€432m

SERIES C

€261m

100-500

Sifted Take

The Paris-based cryptocurrency security startup was founded in 2014, and its distinctive, USB-style and easy-to-use hardware wallets (which store private keys) — and are a standard in the industry.

So far it’s raised $88m in VC money, including from Draper Espirit, CapHorn Invest and FirstMark Capital.

But in 2019 the company experienced a break-in, which led to a leak of 9.5k detailed customer records and 1m email addresses. In the cryptocurrency community, where trust is paramount, this loss of information is still impacting the company. Though it didn’t directly impact customers’ assets, some users still fear for their physical safety.

Its closest competitor is Trezor, which also has a bigger hardware wallet.

October's logo

October

P2P lending platform for SMEs

fintech / mortgages & lending

october.eu

Paris, France

2014

€55m

SERIES C

€128-192m

50-100

Sifted Take

"October’s on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

For in-depth analysis of the French tech ecosystem, read the latest issue of The Sift report."

Heetch's logo

Heetch

Ride-sharing app targeted at late night transportation seekers in France

travel; transportation / mobility

heetch.com

Paris, France

2013

€67m

SERIES B

€15-22m

100-500

Memo Bank's logo

Memo Bank

New bank for businesses

banking /

memo.bank

Paris, France

2017

€39m

LATE VC

€80-120m

50-100

Sifted Take

Memo Bank’s on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

For in-depth analysis of the French tech ecosystem, read the latest issue of The Sift report.

Kard's logo

Kard

Mobile banking alternative for the new generation, offering a never-seen-before customer experience that is cool, social & free

fintech / banking

kard.eu

Paris, France

2018

€6m

SEED

€13-19m

10-50

Sifted Take

"Banking for under-18s is a hot topic, and elsewhere on this list you’ll find Gimi and goHenry designed for younger children. Pixpay is the French card for teenagers, filling the awkward gap between pocket money and grown up money management.

It’s competing against the lies of Osper and recently launched Revolut Youth in one of the most interesting areas of fintech that we’re pretty sure will boom in 2021.

From marketing using influencers to rumours of a TikTok spinoff payments app, we’re keeping an eye on how the French contingent will negotiate the changes.

It’s also on our list of French fintechs to watch post-Brexit.

Read our intelligence report on the French tech revolution to find out more."

Mirakl's logo

Mirakl

Best Online Marketplace Platform and Dropship Solution

marketplace & ecommerce;saas / enterprise software

mirakl.fr

Paris, France

2011

€357m

LATE VC

€1.5bn

100-500

Sifted Take

One of many companies on this list benefiting from the rise and rise of ecommerce is Mirakl, which helps online businesses manage marketplaces on their websites. Customers include Carrefour and Office Depot. The startup is a member of the Next 40 Group and Macron's Tech For Good initiative, and in September 2020 raised $300m in a funding round led by Permira.

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