NEW YORK — Some of the most promising French-founded startups not based in France took part in the recent Startup Tour, organized by French Founders and French Morning. The program honors Francophone startups and consists of regional competitions across 7 cities in North America, plus Paris, held over the last several months. It culminated in the 8 regional winners converging in New York City for the grand final at the event’s platinum sponsor BNP Paribas’ offices in the Axa Auditorium. At stake was a first prize package worth more than $100,00 in cash and business enablement support.
With a crowd of 500 looking on, including such notables as Mounir Mahjoubi, French Minister for Digital Affairs, Roland Lescure, member of the French Parliament, Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States and Eric Bayer, Deputy Consul General of France in New York, entrepreneurs had 4 minutes to impress a star-studded jury of judges from the industry.
Finalists included Ava, developer of an app for the hearing impaired, Diabnext, a maker of a breakthrough diabetes management solution; car service app developer Washos; healthcare education innovator Invivox; ad tech platform provider Dr. Banner; Owlmo, which offers an efficient platform for consultants and SMBs; video development and monetization platform Dubdub; and cybersecurity innovator Cybelangel.
After a lively pitch session, Mounir Mahjoubi presented the first prize as determined by the judges to Ava. The judges were impressed with its innovative app that enables better communication amongst the hearing impaired and their friends, families and colleagues. CEO and founder Thibault Duchemin, who founded the company following a childhood growing up in a family in which he was only one who could hear, delivered the winning pitch. The speech-to-text technology gives people with hearing issues an easy way to stay on top of any conversation. The app functions like a group chat and allows anyone involved in a conversation to talk normally near their phone’s microphone. The app organizes a threaded message for everyone in the group to have a record of the conversation right in front of them to quickly respond to.
The first prize included $20,00 in cash, two desks at The Foundery co-working space for one year; a one-year French Founders membership; two round-trip flights between NYC and Paris; a $20,000 voucher to be used on a selection of OVH cloud solutions; and a business acceleration program with BNP Paribas experts, among other benefits. It was the latest in a string of awards for Ava, which also took home top honors the WSJ.DLive Conference last year, was named a Top Innovator Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, as well as awards at Kairos Global 50 + TOMS Shoes Social Business competition, AT&T Connectability Challenge, and first place at LAUNCH, UC Berkeley’s biggest startup competition.
Anne de Louvigny, Vice President Senior of Merill Lynch awarded the AAGEF Prize from the French Grandes Écoles Alumni Association, which included a $5,000 cash award to Diabnext, no stranger to awards itself having won a PM360 Magazine Trailblazer Gold Award in the medical industry, as well as a CES Innovation honors at the 2017 show.
Laurent Magnin, CEO of XL Airways presented the People Choice award, recognizing the company which go the most votes on the competition’s web site to CybelAngel, which last year took home top honors in the prestigious Slush startup competition.
The eight finalists were selected from an initial application field of more than 200 companeis. From there 35 startups were chosen as semi-finalists to compete in Startup Tour 2017 that featured event sin New York, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as Paris. Every participating startup has at least one Francophone founder and is located (or in the process of establishing a location) in North America. Judges for the finals included: Virginie Morgon Executive Director of Eurazeo, Alain Bernard President & CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, Americas, Bruno D’illiers Deputy Director general of BNP Paribas CIB Americas; Frank Moison Vice President of Colgate Palmolive, Hervé Brunet Managing Director and co-founder of StickyAds.tv (purchased by Comcast in 2016), Thierry Delaporte Member of the Executive Board and head of Capgemini, financial service; Alexis Lê-Quôc Co-founder and Director of technology of Datadog, services; Renaud Deraison, Co-founder and Director of technology of Tenable Network Security; services; and Michel-Alain Proch Vice President and general manager of operations in America North of Atos Origin.
FrenchFounders is the world’s leading business community dedicated to French-speaking CEOs, top executives, founders, innovators, and investors. With more than 2,100+ members in 40+ countries, FrenchFounders allows its members – all leaders in their industry – to meet, share experiences and grow their business thanks to personalized introductions, co-working spaces, and thematic events. With offices in New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore, FrenchFounders maintains a global presence. frenchfounders.com
About French Morning
French Morning is the leading web magazine for French speakers living in or traveling to the United States and Canada. Created in 2007 by a French expat, French Morning now has 250,000 unique visitors per month. There are seven local editions: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Texas, Washington DC, and Montreal (mauditsfrancais.ca/). French Morning also publishes Frenchly (frenchly.us) for the large audience of Anglophone Francophiles around the world.