“Today, creating a start-up is the preferred option for young graduates of prestigious schools”

On its tenth anniversary, France Digitale, which brings together French startups and investors, takes stock of the ecosystem and warns of the main challenges to be faced for the next decade.

In ten years, start-ups have imposed themselves on the French scene. These young, fast-growing and innovative companies have disrupted entire sectors of the economy, changing their perception among the general public. “There were about twenty of us at the launch of France Digitale. We had to explain what a start-up was, how it worked… Ten years later, the mindset has changed. Creating a start-up is the preferred option for young graduates of Grandes Ecoles», observes Frédéric Mazzella, co-founder of BlaBlaCar and co-president of France Digitale, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the federation that brings together entrepreneurs and investors.

In ten years, the French ecosystem has gained depth, now it has 20,000 start-ups and 400 investment funds. It is certainly still far from the 90,000 Britons and 78,000 Germans, but little by little France is catching up. The discrepancy is partially explained by different mindsets. Germany’s dynamism is based on the wealth of its medium-sized enterprises (FTEs), Great Britain benefits from its privileged links with the United States. France, which departed later, must continue to achieve a forced march. With some success. Three-quarters of French people use at least one service offered by a French start-up. “These companies respond to current issues, improving purchasing power, reducing environmental impact. They are positioned in fast-growing markets», analyzes Maya Noël, director of France Digitale.

23% revenue growth

French start-ups show a 23% growth in their turnover over a year, according to the barometer carried out by the company EY for France Digitale. The 583 startups that responded to this survey made 8.3 billion euros in revenue last year. More than 22% are profitable and 39% of them believe they can double their income this year. “They have raised an average of 32 million euros since their creation. they have fundsexplains Franck Sebag, partner at EY. If funding is one of your concerns, it comes after recruitment.“. In France, tensions remain high. Last year, 6,000 net jobs, of which 87% in France, were created by a representative sample of 400 start-ups. Almost all continue to recruit this year.

However, not all is rosy in the start-up landscape. Gender equality is far from being achieved, only 14% of these companies have a female CEO! These young companies are also still very dependent on the services offered by American gigatechs, for hosting their data, on IT tools…”65% of companies surveyed say they are dependent on Gafam, 73% use one of its services“, says Maya Noël. But 8% of them do not use any Gafam service – which shows that it is possible – and 85% chose to keep their data in storage centers in France. More than a third of them have suffered a cyber attack in the past year and many have decided to strengthen their anti-cyber attack systems, which turns out to be little given the threat and consequences that can result.

Especially as these young companies aim to become the giants of tomorrow. To this end, they are increasingly betting on topics with environmental and social impact. Like BlaBlaCar, which estimates it contributes to avoiding the emission of 1.6 million tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of Paris emissions. “It is easier to build a more environmentally friendly company from the ground up than to completely change the model of a large companyobserves Frédéric Mazzella. In terms of the environment, the status quo is a disaster, we must innovate, do things differently to reverse the trend“. For the founder of BlaBlaCar, “the physical world is under-optimized. Properly applied technology can work miracles“. A message of optimism that stands out in a macroeconomic climate marked by fears of shortages and recession.

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