Last night we managed to triumph over the rain that has plagued Paris and had a great event to say good-bye to Fred and to give French entrepreneurs a last shot at meeting their guru. Lucie and I were both struck by all the new faces. We feel like a pot was stirred over the past month, between Seedcamp Paris back in June and Fred Wilson Day last week. It's really exciting -- and fun -- seeing entrepreneurs who this time last year were just barely getting their algorithms together now giving advice to the noobies as (somewhat) seasoned entrepreneurs.
Saul Klein recently blogged about the importance of validation and pointed out that it comes in many forms, including previous successes, having a outstanding person join your start-up team, signing a paying customer, acquiring users, getting positive press/blog reviews. But a lot of these guys don't have that yet, and the first form of validation they get here in France is that they are not crazy nor alone, that there are people doing exactly the same thing (cf my earlier post on how entrepreneurs in France get treated as if they are doing something subversive). Having other entrepreneurs like themselves to bounce ideas off of -- and repeat entrepreneurs, and VCs -- in an informal setting with a glass of wine in hand can give them the boost they need. More than a few times, we've been told that the camaraderie at the Pont Parties helps tremendously.
So thanks to all the people who come to our events -- from Fred Wilson, who gave the French start-up community a huge shot in the arm and lots of great advice, to regulars like Philippe Collombel at Partech International Partners (full disclosure: a BPR client) and first-timer (but self-declared "future regular attendee") Ashish Puri of Sofinnova, and the dozens of French start-ups that make the conversations rich and energetic. It's BPR's dream that one day, one of you will point back to a Pont Party and say "that's where my company really took off."
Fred's post about last night and the importance of accessibility here, and photos from last night's Pont Party here and here. Huge thanks to Ken & Marc, our beloved interns, who made sure this got documented.
And, of course, shameless plug for Seedcamp: want validation? Apply!
After reading Fred's post and thinking more about the conversation that unfolded over the day, I come away with this: French entrepreneurs are heros, plain and simple. In the US, entrepreneurs are lauded. Here, they are looked upon as erratic, people who are insane not to take the safe route. Sure, Lucie-Anne and I are entrepreneurs, too, but we're American, and in France, that pretty much excuses us. Also, I come from a family of entrepreneurs: I am the third generation. My father's reaction was "What took you so long?"
When I look at the hurdles that these people have to overcome: the ridiculous laws, the lack of resources, the lack of a vibrant community to support them (though we are actively working on changing that!), and finally, the overwhelming, crushing sense that as an entrepreneur, you are doing something odd or outright subversive, well, you can see why these guys are my heros.
On a different note: huge thanks to Phil Jeudy, Louis van Proosdij Duport, Jacques Froissant, Raphael Labbe, Marc Brandsma and especially my trusty sidekick and partner in crime Ken Newcomer for all the help in organizing. See you at the Pont Party!
The Center for Social Media released the "Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video" earlier this week. You make think this is a yawner but its actually pretty important, as it takes on copyright infringement in the U.S. head-on. Most Americans think that if they take something off the web and use it, they are committing copyright infringement (not that this stops them). The Code reflects the latest changes in U.S. copyright law that has expanded the understanding of fair use to include 'transformational effect.' What does this mean? Basically, provided you are making a truly new use of the content, you are free to make money off those copyrighted images and video and sound.
Several public broadcasters have endorsed the guidelines. Fingers crossed. Not that this means that things are going to change in Europe, but one can hope.
Note that the Center for Social Media's web site has nifty resources for mashers and mixers.
Our friends happen to be amazing photographers & incredibly photogenic. My favorite is the rather querulous-looking Phil Jeudy. That is you querulous look, right Phil? Or were you are about to rip someone's camera out of their hands?
There is a growing trend of public bikes in large cities here in Europe -- we already have them in Paris and Lyon. Just to one-up us, the city of Montreal will launch a killer pilot public bike program, The Public Bike System, in September. Montreal's program is not only web- and RFID-enabled, so that patrons can see the current availability of bikes at various depots, but features a solar-power based station that processes credit or member cards. I am assuming they store energy so that the intrepid folks who want to rent a bike after nightfall can do so.
An artist rendering of the new green bike system for Montreal:
Last week was the first Ballou PR Pont Party of the summer and luck was on our side and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Much fun and wine were had by all. Watch this space for the date of our July Pont Party.
Jérôme Bouteiller mentioned the party on his website: