France’s Startup Scene Is Thriving

france startups

March 31, 2022

France’s startup scene is thriving. French startups received $11.3 billion (10.2 billion euros) in venture capital funding in 2021 as of November 2021, according to Dealroom. That is double what they received in 2020.

France-based VC firms raised $4 billion (3.6 billion euros) in new funds in 2021 as of November 2021, twice as much as in all of 2020. 14 new French startups became unicorns, or privately held companies worth more than $1 billion, in 2021. France has 30 total unicorns–more than Sweden, the Netherlands, and Spain. France is creating unicorns faster than most European startup ecosystems.

New French unicorns include Lydia, a money management app; Owkin, a medical AI company; Swile, which provides a payment card for employee benefits; Younited, an instant credit provider; and ManoMano, a home improvement e-commerce platform.

French president Emmanuel Macron set the goal of having 25 French unicorns by 2025 back in 2019, so France is well ahead of schedule in creating unicorns. Macron’s government has been active in promoting the tech ecosystem, inviting investors to the Elysee Palace and organizing “Choose France” tech summits in Versailles, and making a variety of reforms to make France competitive in a global market, according to Bloomberg.

For instance, the “French tech visa” made it easy for international engineers to move to France, and France implemented a 30 percent flat tax on capital gains and exempted investments in companies from the wealth tax. The government also provides substantial angel investments through Bpifrance, a French public investment bank. Now, funds like SoftBank and General Atlantic are investing $100-million rounds in France, while before they were scared away by tax policy and strikes in France.

The most common job openings at French startups are in business development, marketing and communications, backend development, and sales.

The combined value of French startups founded since 2000 is $198 billion (179 billion euros).

Some of the most valuable French startups include Neoen, a producer of renewable energy; Doctolib, a company that helps people find doctors and book appointments; Back Market, a marketplace for refurbished devices; Qonto, an online bank for small businesses and freelancers; Sorare, a global fantasy football game; Mirakl, an e-commerce company; Leboncoin, a classifieds site; and Veepee, a flash sales e-commerce company.

60 percent of funds raised by French startups in 2021 came from abroad, including 32 percent from the US. Tiger Global, General Atlantic, Coatue, Bessemer Venture Partners, and General Catalyst all made investments in French startups in 2021, according to Business Insider. US funds now participate in about half of venture capital deals above $20 million in France.

France now has serial entrepreneurs, people who left their first successful startup and are now creating new ones, according to Bloomberg.

Macron now wants 10 French startups worth at least 100 billion euros ($111 billion) by 2030, according to Business Insider.

If you’re building a French startup, let’s talk. At Alariss Global, we can help you expand into the US by matching you to top US sales and business development talent and serving as the Employer of Record (EOR). If you’re ready to talk, book a call with us today.


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