Last week I was in Paris and got a chance to visit TheFamily, a startup incubator that nurtures entrepreneurs through education, unfair advantages, and capital. I was joined by Hugh Molotsi, Cedric Menager, Rafael de la Vega, Siddharth Ram, and Abdenour Bezzouh.
Hugh had visited TheFamily once before, but this was my first visit. We were very impressed by the quality of the startups they support. This is probably because they are in high demand and get to select from many startups: they receive 10 applications a day and accept 2-3 a week. Their process is very efficient. They meet a with new startup for one hour, after which they make their yes/no decision. There is no paperwork in the beginning, so both sides can feel each other out. Later on, TheFamily receives equity in the startup. They currently have about 180 active companies.
What TheFamily provides startups:
- Education – Their seven partners are all trainers. They also have over 500 online videos and they nurture an entrepreneur community. (The Family charges non-members for access to their education services, which provides most of their on-going funding.)
- Advantaged deals – They’ve negotiated with the likes of Amazon, Google, Paypal, and Stripe for better rates for their member companies.
- They help startups raise money. This includes helping them with their pitch and introducing them to funders.
We talked to four companies that are all focused on serving small businesses as customers.
First, we met PayFit co-founder Firmin Zocchetto who described his solution as the “European ZenPayroll”. Currently, ZenPayroll does not work in France because of the complicated rules and regulations. They are starting narrowly by focusing on pharmacies and plan to launch a Beta later this year. He says their solution will be unique in France as the only one that provides interfaces for employers, accountants, and employees (all existing solutions leave out the employee). Their solution will also be more economical.
Next, we met Birdly co-founders William Pollet, Quang Hoang, and Jean-Baptiste Coger. Birdly is a receipt and expense reports solution. They acknowledge they have many competitors, but they feel most solutions have a top-down approach, whereas their solution is bottom-up. They target the on-the-road professional with a mobile solution (iOS and Android).
When the user has a receipt, they take a picture of it, and Birdly adds context from their calendar (a user-defined tag is also added). In France, when you are deducting expenses, you are required to provide the context. They are also adding a mileage feature by integrating with Google Maps. For receipts you receive via email, you simply forward the email to Birdly. Later, Birdly helps you generate an Excel expense report.
Birdly was formed last September and they launched their app in February. They built a proof-of-concept integration with QuickBooks Online in four days.
After Bidrly, we met Valentin Konrad and Martin de la Taille, co-founders of Flatchr, a job applicant traking system. There are over 400 job boards in France which can be unwieldy for a firm that’s looking for employees. Fletchr allows for a job description to be created and then posted to 50 job boards (they filter the job boards based on the position). As candidates apply, they are listed for the user in a Trello-like interface in three categories (Applied, Phone Screen, In-person Interview).
They launched their Beta 2½ months ago. They first targeted startups but have most of them are not ready to pay for their services. They are now targeting small and medium businesses. They are testing a monthly subscription service starting from 19€ to 399€ per month. They also hope to leverage their data on what is a good job description and what days people are most likely to apply to jobs.
Finally, we met with Octobat founder Gaultier Laperche whom Hugh had met during his first visit. Octobat provides automatic invoicing for Stripe adopters, so it was interesting to hear what progress he had made in growing his customer base and narrowing in on his market focus.
I left very impressed by the innovation taking place in Paris and am excited about the future of apps targeting small business users in France. Follow QuickBooks Start to see all of Intuit’s activities as we continue to grow our worldwide user base.
VP and GM, Intuit Developer Group