La French Tech: to get a larger piece from start-up cake to France

La French Tech is France’s ambitious program to attract digital talents to France. Now Istanbul becomes a part of La French Tech community and at the service of Turkish start-ups

When you think of France, probably, you will remember gastronomy or fashion. For the last couple of years, France is making effort to join the global tech scene through start-ups. So La French Tech was materialized by the French government, known as the French Tech mission, in 2013. “La French Tech is France’s startup movement, powered by its ecosystem and bolstered by its government. They bring together these two radically different worlds bound by a single mission: make France a great home for global mission-driven tech champions,” explained in the initiative’s LinkedIn page. It also added that President Emmanuel Macron set a target of reaching 25 unicorns, a start-up valued at more than USD 1 billion, by the year 2025.

With €8.5 billion funds raised, French start-ups become #1 in Europe

Actually the purpose of La French Tech is to build a bridge amongst the government, its huge executive bodies and start-ups. To achieve that purpose La French Tech  established 114 start-up communities globally, 63 of them abroad, per LinkedIn profile.  One of those communities is in Istanbul, which was launched on Sept 28, 2020, by the attendance of Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness.  So I met La French Tech Istanbul Team on November 8 to know more about their work at Palais de France in Istanbul. Let me add that Hervé Magro, French Ambassador to Turkey, also attended the event and you can understand how France seriously handles the startups and La French Tech community at the highest national level.  As the introduction, Magro informed about the French startup ecosystem,  saying that the country’s start-ups raised €8.5 billion this year so far. That figure means the highest amount in Europe.  On the other hand France has more than 21.000 startups, added Magro, 19 of which were unicorns. More than 1.000 startups are under the umbrella of Station F, the largest start-up campus on the globe, according to Magro.

La French Tech Istanbul helped Getir to launch in Paris

Now time to talk about La French Tech Istanbul community and their effort for the Turkish startups ecosystem. Let’s start with the team, consisting of 6 people: Philippe Alcaras (President of La French Tech Istanbul, CEO at Airties), Nuri Cem Erbak (Strategic Planning Manager at Uludağ İçecek), Clémentine Loizillon (Community Leader), Murat Peksavaş (Chairman of the Board at Binovative A.Ş), Orkun Saitoğlu (COO at iyzico) and Dara Hızveren (Chief Builder at Cherry).  La French Tech Istanbul represents a bridge between French and Turkish startups and scaleup ecosystems, an analogy of the Bosphorus Bridge, said Orkun Saitoğlu. The services of the La French Tech Istanbul is free of charge hence the team consists of volunteers. As a side note, La French Tech Istanbul is not helping start-ups to raise funds and the team is not investing in the start-ups either.

Photo (from left): Orkun Saitoğlu (Member of the Board for La French Istanbul, COO at iyzico), Clementin Loizillon (Community Leader for La French Tech Istanbul) and Elodie Laugier (Economics Advisor for French Embassy in Istanbul)

French Tech Visa for non-EU start-up employees

The mission of La French Tech Istanbul is to support the French start-ups that already operate in Istanbul to become the first point of contact and springboard for French start-ups willing to extend their presence in Turkey and to make France attractive for Turkish start-ups that would like to take their business to France. As for financial consultation, TEB (a JV of BNP Paribas) comes into the picture and provides financial assistance for both countries’ start-ups. A current example for the ones following the European start-up scene: Getir, a Turkish 10-min grocery delivery start-up, launched in Paris by June and La French Tech Istanbul helped Getir to start operations, Orkun Saitoğlu told me. That assistance included to reach correct companies and key people, according to Saitoğlu. Indeed, there is one more thing worth to mention: French Tech Visa. This type of visa is valid for non-EU start-up employees, founders and investors to obtain a residence permit in France. To make it clear, I asked a specific question to the team. As a software engineer with a job offer from a French start-up, therefore a future start-up employee, can you apply to the French Tech Visa via your company and gain a resident permit? Yes, you can and this link reveals whether you are eligible for a French Tech Visa or not.

Palais de France / French Palace in Istanbul

In a nutshell, I need to admit that La French Tech is an impressive inititative for start-ups who plan to launch in France. I know other countries are also running such programs but La French Tech is doing something different: the French chase after you while others expect you to come to their territory. To do this, La French Tech has both local and global boards to pursue start-ups and take them to France or vice versa.  In addition, the French government has an aggressive plan to invest €7.5 billion in technology and start-ups for the years covering 2020-22, emphasized Hervé Magro, French Ambassador to Turkey. So, the race to get a larger piece from the start-up cake gets heated via La French Tech.     

(If you need more information, you can check La French Tech Istanbul’s community at this link.  You can also reach the community via LinkedIn)

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Photo credit for Hervé Magro: Julien Aksoy

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