Following on from the Talent Days in January, the ESSEC Business School’s forum series continued with an event devoted to start-ups and scale-ups, which was held on February 14th. This event is aimed at helping ESSEC students learn more about the start-up ecosystem as a whole. Entrepreneurship is a key focus of the school’s academic program and is one of the three pillars of its RISE strategy.
A number of entrepreneurship-related events are organised each year for ESSEC students. These include the New Member Pitch, Mix & Match Start-Ups, Entrepreneurial Folk & Foy’s, etc. As part of this effort, the Start-Up & Scale-Up Forum enables students to interact more closely with start-ups.
Organised by ESSEC in conjunction with ESSEC Ventures, the school’s start-up incubator, the forum hosted 22 start-ups and scale-ups. Their goal? To meet students wishing to gain professional experience in these type of companies.
Among them was the start-up Colonies, a great business success story. Created by three former ESSEC students, François Roth (E12), Amaury Courbon (E12) and Alexandre Martin (E12), Colonies is a start-up specialised in co-living. The idea for the company from the difficulties experienced by the three founders when they were sharing student accommodation. Claire and Julie, who are respectively People Ops Manager and Chief of Staff explain: “Colonies is a French start-up. The 3 co-founders studied at ESSEC, met at ESSEC and shared their first student accommodation at ESSEC. They really enjoyed the experience. They saw both the strengths and flaws of this co-living arrangement. As a result, they started buying property and creating co-living accommodation, which was the beginning of what would eventually grow into Colonies initially. Colonies was really born out of their experience of co-living at ESSEC”. Today, Colonies is growing in France but also in Belgium and Germany, thanks to €1 billion in property financing that they obtained in May 2022.
Another success story among the companies attending the forum is Just, a French start-up, which is currently part of the ESSEC Ventures incubator. The Just team was represented by Anne-Laure, HR manager, and Candide, an ESSEC student who began a two-year work-study programme in January 2023: “Just optimises the purchasing experience on e-commerce sites. More specifically, we help e-commerce sites increase their conversion rate and lower their shopping basket abandonment rate by providing a faster purchasing experience, with fewer steps, no need to create an account, no confirmation [...]. The purchase time is thus reduced from 3 minutes to 30 seconds,” explains Anne-Laure.
Other start-ups in attendance included: Electra. This company is revolutionising the process of recharging electric vehicles by installing fast charging stations in all large and medium-sized French cities. Co-founded by an ESSEC graduate, it was included in La French Tech Mission’s Next40/FT120 programme and is recognised for its expertise in energy transition issues. In one respect, however, Electra is by no means exceptional: ESSEC is the school with the highest number of graduates among the scale-ups involved in the La French Tech programme.
The forum concluded with a round table discussion with Bertrand Stephann, CEO of Alcméon, and founding partner of the Scale-Up Chair, as well as Quentin Laurens, Head of Public & International Affairs at Qarnot Computing. The event gave students the opportunity to interact with an entrepreneurial community that is constantly evolving and making a positive impact on the world.
In 2021-2022, with the help of ESSEC Ventures, 145 student start-up projects received support. €83 million was raised in total investments over the year. In collaboration with Cergy Paris Université (CYU), a Start-Up Studio dedicated to sustainable innovation has been set up to develop large-scale business projects that address the environmental challenges of our time.
Many thanks to the students and participating start-ups and scale-ups: Alcméon, Algonomia, Better World, Carlo Carla, Colonies, Electra, Elinoï, Fostr, Just, Kayrros, LFA Fund, Lucca, Malt, Octomine, Pomelo Factory, Reezocar, Ride with Via, Software Club, Stuart, Swappy, Zenchef.