Episode 16 - Ethan Pierse - Entrepreneur is not a dirty word
Founder of Borderless Ventures, partner in new Silicon Valley fund targeting deep tech
Engineering education, career started doing digital marketing & corporate training
Business activity between France, Southeast Asia and the US
Sees confluence of positive events in France coming together today
Being an entrepreneur is now cool, which helps build ecosystem
What is Ethan looking for with startups? Idea needs to be great but the team has to be great to build real value and full potential
Team is critical to success of startup!
New book coming out on corporate innovation - Chief Startup Officer
Why France is a hotbed for deep tech
Ethan Pierse spent years working in the US as a successful digital marketer before moving to France, where he initially did similar work until four years ago when he started helping French startups gain access to US investment capital as well as business development. This effort then led to working with Singapore and Hong Kong, where French expats make up a significant community.
Today, Ethan’s splits his time between Borderless Ventures, which helps startups, investors and corporates access opportunities between the US, France and Southeast Asia - as well as a new Silicon Valley venture fund that is investing in AI and Industry 4.0 deep tech. This new fund is based in the US but investing in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in Israel and Southeast Asia.
In this episode, we discussed why France and why now, and Ethan clearly explains the confluence of events over recent years that has positioned France as the place to be. The French government has been promoting entrepreneurship and improving the visibility of French startups outside of France. They’re pushing hard to drive this change and the results are starting to show.
One big change Ethan comments on is that younger students today really want to be entrepreneurs, which is a radical departure from years ago when so many wanted to work for big organizations or the government. Today, it’s cool to be an entrepreneur-- which, as he mentions, can cut both ways. Ultimately, it’s still a business and as fun as some of the perks of that business can be, they’re just that: perks.
Listen as Ethan explains in very clear terms what investors are looking for when they are considering a startup. We also discuss how startups interact with corporates, including the positives and the negatives on both sides. Yes it can work out well, but startups can easily waste valuable time and collapse if they chase the wrong corporate partnerships. If big corporates want to be part of the future, they urgently need to be serious about engaging with startups. For more on that subject, keep an eye out for Ethan’s new book, Chief Startup Officer, coming out soon. Our podcast discussion with Ethan wraps up as he discusses why France is well positioned for the Deep Tech wave of startups that will be disrupting organizations around the world in the coming years.
Ethan is very active on social media, putting out a ton of great content, so follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, He’s also a regular on BFM Business and once you start following him, you will quickly see why!
Episode 14 - Jean-Francois Morizur - CAILabs: Bending light for better network bandwidth
Born in a research lab at Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, created partnership with the university for license
Found new application for shaping light - can expand fiber capacity by 400%+
Working with SAFRAN, who also led the latest round of financing
No longer need to rewire older fiber, saving time, money, and complexity
Sell via integration partners, expanding globally
Currently hiring for many positions in engineering, commercial & internships
The initial research lab tests were hoping to find uses for manipulating light for the field of microscopy, though the joint research teams from France and Australia ultimately concluded that no, it was not going to work. Thanks to one of the professors at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Jean-François had kept in contact with the team and was convinced that despite the results of the initial study, something interesting could come out of that research.
It may not have yielded results for microscopy but instead, that research provided the backbone for what became CAILabs, a startup that works to shape light, which can provide enormous time and money savings for existing fiber networks and beyond.
The business case for CAILabs is immediate and obvious: instead of replacing existing, older fiber LAN networks in factories, hospitals, etc - a process that can be painfully long, requiring significant paperwork and an often challenging process - customers can instead implement the CAILabs product, which can reduce bottlenecks for local networks.
Jean-François Morizur is yet another example of a startup founder in a very technical market who has an amazing ability to explain his solution in easy to understand terms for mere mortals. (Edouard Alligand, CEO of QuasarDB who joined us in Episode 7 was another.) He is of course a very deep technical person - he has a PhD in quantum optics, after all - but he’s also a smart business leader who is highly engaging.
During our discussion he explains their target audience and their plans for global expansion, including the age-old question of whether to put the US office on the east coast or the west coast. It’s a topic worth spending time exploring, rather than rushing into a choice to move out west just to be in the Valley.
Moving forward, CAILabs is seeking to hire new members for their team, both in engineering and the business side of the company now that they’ve secured a new round of funding. They’re also getting a lot of customer traction, so there is a lot of opportunity here for people interested in working on a very innovative solution with smart people.
Episode 1 - Intro - The many roads to success
A few years ago it was said that George W. Bush claimed that “the problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” Even though he didn’t say this (and sure, we had to confirm this on Snopes because it does sound like something he could have blurted out) it’s fair to say this was the general stereotype by many outside of France and even some inside France too!
So how true is this today? While being a startup entrepreneur is not as much a part of the culture in France as it is in the US, everything is changing. Those who used to rush off to London or Silicon Valley are now seeing that yes, it’s possible to stay in France and enjoy success.
Even the word “success” is loaded because there is no single right answer. Success is whatever you define success to be. Is it being rich? Is it doing something positive for the world? Is it finding work-life balance? There is no right answer, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Along those lines, how do you achieve success with a startup? Do you mirror Silicon Valley, where financial success is plentiful? Despite the claims of some, there really is no single path to success.
Can other parts of the world learn from Silicon Valley. Of course, but there is plenty of both good and bad. Does one model from a specific region in the US translate everywhere? Hardly! Even in the US there are many models and many startup success stories in places outside of Silicon Valley.
Before jumping into the many great discussions with startup people and industry experts, we want to provide you with a brief introduction to ourselves and what we will be talking about moving forward. Instead of bloviating or pontificating, our goal is to engage in fun and interesting discussions with startup people.
From our perspective, listening and learning from others is the best way forward. Maybe your focus is different from ours or our guests, but listening to others can help move forward with developing your own success. Even when we choose another path, listening to others helps develop our own methods.
When you’re a larger company and have plenty of money available, it’s easy to find experts and get advice. When you’re getting started and money is tight, access to experts is much more difficult. By listening to others who have gone through this experience, you can hear that others have faced exactly the same issues as you.
We hope that it will help you think more about the decisions you make, these discussions have already helped us change our mind on a few points. Keep an open mind and learn along with us.