While fashion for almost two years has wanted to make France a start-up nation, french evil in terms of economic development would be on another level. According to a May 2018 report by the consulting firm KPMG, Hyper-growth: the challenge of the French entrepreneurial ecosystem,the real challenge for the public authorities is to promote the scale-up, that is to say the change of scale with a company that is experiencing very significant growth. Our French ecosystem would lack it, compared to our neighbours across the Rhine, even though scale-up companies weigh 39% of the national GDP. These can be defined as start-ups that have proven their business model and have a strong turnover, with annual growth of more than 20%. According to KPMG, these companies face three difficulties, not necessarily financial ones. If the need for working capital is an obstacle to their healthy growth, since the majority of them rely on self-financing (67%), the question of talent management and the adaptation of governance arises. Traps that can be avoided by hyper-growth start-ups, provided they are well accompanied. It is in this direction that the New Aquitaine region wanted to invest, by co-founding and financing the UP GRADE program. This program launches its campaign for its third promotion.
A program to support the change in scale of start-ups
Launched less than a year ago, the program has seen two successive promotions since April 23, 2018. The challenge for the elected representatives of the New Aquitaine region in 2017 was to support promising start-ups in their change of commercial scale, especially in their international development. They therefore entrusted the Unitec association with the task of setting up the programme for a 3-year contract. 5 candidates are selected every 6 months.
The accelerator focuses primarily on regional and recent start-ups (whose creation dates back less than 6 years), whose first phase of development has proven fruitful and solid. Candidates with strong growth potential and who have already started a hyper-growth phenomenon are selected. The assistance provided is mainly managerial, in order to secure their development, train management teams, structure the organization of companies and above all accelerate commercial growth abroad. The aim of this programme is to facilitate future fundraising by candidate companies, in order to support this already very strong growth, in order to propose new complementary offers.
Thus, the 10 winners in 2019 (two promotions of 5) will be entitled to one day of exchanges per month between them, often accompanied by experts, in order to share good practices. Above all, a start-up manager will help start-ups structure their thinking. Passing offices in Bordeaux (Pessac) and Paris (Metro Pyramides) can be used by companies on an ad hoc basis. Finally, and this is one of the major strengths of the program, an analysis and rating report produced by Early Metrics will be given free of charge to selected candidates. However, in order to engage and involve business leaders who would participate in the programme, a participation of 800 euros per month (excluding tax) is requested.
If the contribution is not financial (to abound the working capital of the start-up in scale-up), this managerial support can prove predominant for start-ups. Unitec touts its results of a 5-year start-up sustainability rate of 86%. A community of peers was thus able to create between the first 5 winners of the April 2018 promotion. This is particularly the case of the start-up Rhinov which has developed a new interior decoration service, based on the 3D visualization of its interior redecorated by an architect for only 99 euros. Its founder, Xavier Brissonneau, was able to highlight the contribution of tools, methods but also feedback for the development of his company. This was also the case for Eshard, a developer of cybersecurity solutions for connected objects. The community of peers and the support of a start-up manager allow us to share the difficulties.
The success of this accelerator therefore highlights three points that we are particularly interested in: the public authorities must adapt to the needs of the economy by supporting the development of scale-ups, support for structuring is crucial in a change of scale for a company, which proves that our start-ups in Aquitaine have talent. Nominations are open from March 11 to April 5: go for it! The next 12 months will be the ideal solution to allow you to further develop your company’s performance. Driven by the support of the New Aquitaine region and the European Union, the UP GRADE initiative works on behalf of promising businesses in the region.