Leveraging Technology to Go Global


The Global Innovation Forum and France Digitale hosted a private breakfast on March 1 at Techstars in Paris, France. The event brought together startup and small business founders, policymakers, corporate representatives and community partners to discuss the role of online platforms and programs in the global success of European startups and scaleups.

Here’s what they had to say…

(Quotes are based on translation from French to English)

Ledger | Jean-Michel Pailhon, VP of Corporate Strategy & Development

“We create a digital wallet to store private information,” explains Jean-Michel Pailhon, VP of Corporate Strategy and Development of Ledger. With a background at the New York Stock Exchange, Pailhon has a global mindset. “It is not just a matter of the talent or technology tools (which we have both) — what you need to do is go global quickly.” Founded in 2014, Ledger made it a point to recruit international talent very early on, both locally in France and abroad. Pailhon notes that the vision in France changed tremendously within a year, making their goals that seem far fetched now achievable. Ledger is developing solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications for clients across 165 countries. The company is continuing to grow, with offices in Paris, Vieron and San Francisco and a team of 80 professionals. While they can ship the product globally, Pailhon says it is now time to change the language.

Qonto | Alex Prot, Co-Founder and CEO

Founded in 2016, Qonto offers current account and finance management solutions to simplify business banking. Based in France, Co-Founder and CEO Alex Prot explains that everything has been done in french and english from day 1. “You can’t improvise being a global business,” explained Prot, adding that the company is focused on the European market at the moment. For Qonto to succeed both in Europe and globally, Prot says they need to address the technology and regulatory challenges. Banking is one of the most regulated sectors, adding an additional level of complexity for the innovative banking startup.

Snips | Caroline Lair, Business Development (Co-Founder of Women in AI)

Snips is a voice recognition solution that fits into your products. Founded in 2013, the company now has offices in Paris and New York. “We offer tailor fit solutions for products–they work on objects that are not cloud dependent, so no streaming or servers, everything based where client based. We want to give clients sovereignty over data,” explained Caroline Lair, Business Development at Snips. Lair notes that the management and marketing teams are based in New York, but the company is global in nature. In addition to her work at Snips, Lair is the Co-Founder of Women in AI, a group seeking to close the gender gap in the AI field and support female experts in the area. “While the network to support startups in France is very strong, it would be great to have more foreign investment,” noted Lair.

Talentsoft | Jean-Stéphane Arcis, Founder and CEO

“We are like the Wayz of HR,” explained Jean-Stéphane Arcis, Founder and CEO of Talentsoft, a HR software that manages talent. The software provides all the necessary elements to customize and manage careers and talent. Founded in 2007, Talentsoft now employs 600 individuals, has 6 subsidiaries and is used throughout 130 different countries. Over half of the users are based in France, but that number is rapidly changing. “The goal is to replicate the ambition of what I saw in Oracle,” shared Arcis. He attributes the rapid growth of Talentsoft to the technology– “We started using SaaS 10 years ago and could launch without many resources.” Despite the global reach of the company, Arcis says they are not truly global yet.

Yoti | Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory & Policy

London-based Yoti is a global digital identity platform. Founded in 2014, the company employs 160 people across their offices in London, India and the United States. Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory and Policy at Yoti, explained how the company was founded to reduce the time associated with identity checks and to make them more successful. The company works across sectors, such as banking, supermarkets, companies, individuals and security. “We need a solution for SMEs to integrate in a few minutes rather than a few hours,” noted Dawson. With around 1.5 million users worldwide, the company is growing fast. Dawson is based in the company’s headquarters in London, but said that they find talent around the EU, contributing to their diverse group.

Rachel Delacour | BIME (now Zendesk Explore), Co-Founder; Zendesk for Startups, VP; and France Digitale, Co-President

“Based in the South of France, we were able to reach customers globally from Day 1,” said Rachel Delacour, Co-Founder of BIME. The company provides a simple-to-use business intelligence product. “Our business went global thanks to a cloud app,” explained Delacour. BIME has offices in France and the United States and customers worldwide. Delacour explained how she was asked to localize her data, which was not possible as a startup with few resources. As a result, their focus has shifted to the United States and Asia rather than the EU. Through her work as Co-President at France Digitale, Delacour is committed to helping give startups the opportunity to stay in the EU–”It is not a matter of tech anymore, it’s now about regulation. We need to open these doors. We don’t want to be protectionist, but we want our businesses to be on equal footing,” said Delacour, highlighting the need to make sure the OECD and other organizations have the information they need to create a framework.

Business France | Eric Morand, Director of Tech & Services Industries Division

Business France is a government organization that provides internationalization support to small and medium size companies (among other things). The group has 1,500 employees across 87 offices worldwide. Eric Morand, Director of Tech & Services Industries Division explains how they do not design policy, but rather implement the policy. “We want to raise awareness to the barriers and challenges that french companies face,” said Morand. The brand is meant to instill confidence in startups.