News October 4, 2019

Turning Talent into Entrepreneurs

After being a corporate lawyer and consultant, what’s the next logical career move? If your name is Coralie Chaufour, it’s becoming General Manager of Entrepreneur First France. After seeing the impact EF had on a budding-entrepreneur friend of hers, she jumped at the chance to lead the Paris branch.

EF’s model was what really drew her in: “We like to describe ourselves as a talent investor” says Coralie. “The traditional models of incubators, accelerators, VC funding, all of these institutions invest in existing projects, existing teams. We invest in people. We believe the world is missing out on some of its best founders.”

EF opened their Paris office at Station F just over a year ago and has been growing by leaps and bounds. Coralie attributed this to both the type of talent available in the Paris Region, as well as the quality and success of the companies that have already emerged from EF’s previous two cohorts. As proof, their first entrepreneur cohort was 50 people, their second was 55, and now their latest is 60, an increase of 10% with each new group, with no sign of slowing down.

The company is in daily contact with the large academic ecosystem in the Paris Region: “One of the really important things for us is that all people in labs, all people in academia, all people who have real technical expertise within the Paris Region know about us and know it’s an option to join a program like ours” notes Coralie, speaking about her work visiting universities and encouraging students and young professionals to join EF.

Coralie Chaufour, General Manager France, EF

But in order to keep up the growth, EF will need to make sure it has a steady stream of C-level talent to place within their startups. Is there a concern that the pool of high-level talent might dry up? Coralie isn’t fazed in the least. “In France we’re really lucky because probably 90% of the top technical and scientific talent, and PhDs, is located within the Paris Region, and we have all of the top universities and grandes écoles* that are located around Paris. The scientific and technical talent is really top notch, it’s one of the best in the world.”

Coralie highlighted some of the recent initiatives created by the French government to attract entrepreneurs, such as the tech visa program, and various grants and tax cuts offered to tech startups that make the Paris Region an ideal business hub.
Since our interview, France has promised even more support for startups.

Of course, with the interview wrapping up, we couldn’t help but ask one last question: Which company from the Paris office was the most interesting?

After a bit of thought, Omini was held up as an example. This female duo is building biosensors to run on-the-spot analyses of blood work for doctor’s offices, eliminating the need to ship samples to labs and wait weeks before being able to diagnose the problem. “It’s just so rewarding for us to see the impact that we’ve had on these people’s lives. And the impact that they will have because of their startups that are changing the world.”

Entrepreneur First is one of many startup incubators and accelerators who are tapping into the vast pool of talent in the Paris Region. To learn more about their mission, check out joinef.com. And to learn more about starting or growing your business in the Paris Region — we’re here to help!


*selective institutions and business schools that deliver master’s degrees