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Umiami and Teale rewarded at ESSEC’s first ever Founders Day

19-10-2021
Umiami and Teale rewarded at ESSEC’s first ever Founders Day

ESSEC Business School held its first ever ESSEC Founders Day at the Bpifrance offices in Paris on Monday, September 27, 2021. This event takes the form of a startup competition rewarding young businesses founded by ESSEC students or alumni. The jury selected Umiami in the student startup category and Teale in the alumni startup category.

Just seven minutes is all the time the six competing startups had to pitch their project at the ESSEC Founders Day, held on September 27, 2021 at the Bpifrance offices in Paris. What did these projects have in common? They were all founded by students or alumni of ESSEC Business School. The six finalists were selected by a jury of experts from among 80 applications. This was the inaugural ESSEC Founders Day, but which will be an annual highpoint from now on for ESSEC’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Umiami serve up mock meat

The first to pitch their project were executive education participants Jean Garrec and Jean Cuiné, co-founders of Biophta. These pharmacists met at ESSEC Business School during their ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA program. They decided to join forces to launch Biophta. Garrec explained their objective: “We want to radically transform ophthalmology by offering a new standard of treatment to replace eye drops and intra-ocular injections”. By using a biopolymer insert that releases drugs directly into the eye, these innovators hope to revolutionize ophthalmic care. They plan to launch preclinical trials in 2022.

Next up was Oriane Sentis, a student of ESSEC’s Master in Management. Along with several co-founders, she founded SmartVrac, an automated bulk sales solution. Oriane explains “loose produce sales involve significant constraints for consumers, retailers and brands, ranging from losses, to hygiene issues, or logistic complexity. This is what we hope to remedy with SmartVrac, a smart module that works with product-specific pre-packaged cardboard refills.” The young startup has tested its concept at French supermarkets Franprix and Intermarché and is now awaiting legal metrology certification to deploy it more widely.

The final entrant in the student category, Tristan Maurel, who is currently enrolled in the ESSEC/CentraleSupélec double degree program, made a splash by stepping onto the stage with a platter of chicken fillet ... without meat! The startup he founded, Umiami, has patented a new process designed to reproduce as closely as possible the texture of meat and fish fillets, offering a 100% plant-based alternative. “Our goal is for our process, called ‘umization’, to become the technology of choice for the development of plant-based alternatives to meat.” Tristan added: “Our proposal competes with extrusion, a process that is used by many competitors, but which suffers from several limitations." The entrepreneur did not unveil the secrets of his industrial process, but did, however, share that he has already received six letters of intent from companies interested in his “recipe” for a total of 4,000 tonnes tons of pre-ordered products.

Teale: the challenge of placing mental health at the heart of the company

Then it was time for ESSEC alumni founders to take the stage to present their companies. Diane Exposito and Jonathan Moioli, graduates of ESSEC’s Master in Management (2016 and 2014, respectively), presented Allmyketo.com, an e-shop specializing in low-sugar products. “We believe that sugar is the central critical issue in tomorrow’s foods, because it is a killer” they explain. It really is becoming a major public health problem.” They then presented their contribution to a solution: “Therefore, our goal is to offer a pleasant, safe and genuine experience to those looking for an alternative to overly sweetened products." The duo has already succeeded in building notoriety and legitimacy in the field, especially among the ketogenic diet community. These alumni now hope to expand their audience to reach €15 million in annual sales within five years.

Harold Guillemin then presented an original machine designed by his startup, FinX.to the jury. This Centrale-ESSEC Entrepreneurs Specialized Master® graduate has developed a 5 HP nautical electric motor. Its operating principle? It does not require a propeller, but instead works with an undulating membrane. “The propeller is a technology of the past. It is dangerous, costly, and energy consuming.” Guillemin continues: “Our technology, inspired by the movement of fins, is economical, silent and totally safe.” The entrepreneur hopes to launch the production of this new type of engine in the coming months, before developing both a more powerful version and extending its new industrial applications in the coming years. In addition to this, Guillemin is also the winner of the “Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games” mobility innovation initiative.

The final contestants were Julia Néel Biz and Nicolas Merlaud, both graduates of ESSEC’s Master in Management program in 2011, who presented Teale, a holistic mental health platform for company employees. These entrepreneurs believe that mental health will become as important a health issue as the quality of one’s diet, or the practice of sports. “We all have mental health, and it is in our best interest to take care of it", they explain. So, we are making the choice of using technology to support people and therapy." Via the application the team have developed, an employee can assess their mental health and access content or therapists to support them. After raising €2 million, the startup has rolled out the app with a dozen customers this year.

"Entrepreneurship is at the heart of our strategy"

The jury, composed of many experts in supporting entrepreneurship, decided the award should go to Umiami and Teale. It was a decision that came only after much deliberation, which goes to prove the quality of the projects presented, and the dynamism of entrepreneurship at ESSEC. “This event is the living proof of ESSEC's strong position in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, insisted Nicolas Landrin, Executive Director of ESSEC's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. “This is what we were able to showcase with this event, in particular thanks to our partners, namely Bpifrance, In Extenso Innovation & Croissance, Dennemeyer, Manager.one and Orrick.”

The Dean and President of Essec Business School, Vincenzo Vinzi, added: “The entrepreneurial spirit lies at the very heart of our strategy. It is a renewed ambition at ESSEC: after acquiring 20 years of experience in this field, it is now about accelerating entrepreneurship through new investments, and understanding how best to support students and those in executive education toward the entrepreneurship of tomorrow.”

The winning teams, Umiami and Teale, each received a €10,000 check; the six finalists will receive six-month coaching from In Extenso.

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