How Lumena Pursues Her American Dream

Fabrice Michel, Thierry Ehrhardt, Michel Onfray, Fabrice Croiseaux and Franck Legardeur (from left to right), the five co-founders of the Lumena studio. Photo Lumena

This is the economic model of the future. In any case, it’s the one they believe in. Five entrepreneurs from the Grand Est region founded Lumena, the region’s first start-up studio, just over a year ago. Its first three projects were selected to participate in CES in Las Vegas, which takes place from January 5th to 8th. Take a look at this concept imported from the United States and which is becoming popular in France.

What do Twitter, Zalando, eDarling and HelloFresh have in common? These behemoths were all created by what is called a fledgling studio. Although the model is not yet widespread in France – and is mainly concentrated in large cities – it is in the process of being democratized. “In five years, there will be ten in Grand Est,” says Michel Onfray, co-founder of the initial studio Lumena (for Luxembourg, Metz, Nancy).

In just a year and a half, the structure put three projects in progress, all selected to participate from January 5th to 8th at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the great international mass of startups. Quite an achievement. “All the big innovation projects were launched there! The five co-founders will present Delmonicos, a “plug & charge” solution for electric vehicle charging stations, Yuzu, a soft skills assessment software that combines videogames and neuroscience, and Black Ticket, a solution that uses blockchain to make access tickets. for an inviolable event. An idea that follows the fiasco of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool last May. “We didn’t expect so much success, it’s a real surprise”, admits Michel Onfray. Delmonicos will also be present at the French Tech pavilion. “A great recognition. »

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But what exactly are we talking about? A start-up studio is a kind of “business factory”. “We develop technological solutions with our own resources and then entrust them to project leaders, like the big American producers. The concept, imported precisely from the United States, has been timidly emerging in France for some years and continues “concentrated in Île-de-France”. The five entrepreneurs behind Lumena note that “Grand Est is the region with the fewest technology startups in its territory”. Neither one nor two seize the opportunity. “We thought about how to industrialize the model. »

Lumena is thus the first structure of its kind in Grand Est. At the helm, we find a solid base composed of Michel Onfray, already experienced in supporting start-ups via Grand Nancy Innovation and his company La Compagnie du Diamantaire, Thierry Ehrhardt, director of the GET group, Fabrice Croiseaux, CEO of Luxembourg company InTech, Franck Legardeur, former General Electric and president of Zeenco, and Fabrice Michel, director of RH Partners. With the noble ambition of instilling a positive territorial dynamic. “Obstacles to creation are usually technological and financial”, observes Michel Onfray. Not to mention that the time to access public aid is relatively long. However, time is money. Lumena is here to break those locks. These are all facets of the diamond we are trying to create,” he says. With these first three projects, 28 jobs were created in the Metz and Nancy basins. “Launching startups is also a way to make the region attractive and boost the job market. »

Create fourteen additional start-ups

The creation process takes place in three fundamental stages: the idea, validation and development. “In the first phase we are going to ‘connect’ the idea with the reality of the market. In other words, let’s look for a technology that is capable of solving our problem, if possible. Once the concept is defined, the first elements of the economic model and the business plan are established. The validation phase begins when the business model is confirmed, with the establishment of a dedicated project team. Once the technological roadblocks are clearly identified, the company is formed. In addition to bringing solutions internally, Lumena also supports projects carried out by existing companies, either to try out a new concept or to innovate. “The difficulty lies in the fact that we are on both sides of the fence. We advise but sometimes we also need to be advised. Fortunately, the studio benefits from a well-stocked ecosystem. At the beginning of the process, the founders of Lumena are majority shareholders. “We have to finance ourselves, justifies Michel Onfray. The ultimate goal is to resell these shares as the company grows. »

Next step, fundraising set at 5 million euros for the creation of fourteen more start-ups. Lumena has already drawn the attention of institutions because of the global amount, “3 million euros should come exclusively from dedicated funds”. “For the remaining 2 million, we seek the support of established investors in the territory. The latter will be able to bring his network and skills. The objective is to really have a positive impact on the territory and include local economic actors in the process. »

Gol Las Vegas

CES in Las Vegas is an opportunity for Lumena to take on an international dimension. “This will allow us to meet foreign investors. As early as last year, the City of Chicago was interested in our Delmonicos solution. » An event that gains « more and more scale » with each edition and that could allow Delmonicos to become the world reference in this niche. “If Tesla dominates the market, we will be dealing with a new Gafa. And it will still be an American. This project could really be a game changer. »

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