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Success-hungry digital entrepreneurs pitch their ideas at HEC Paris

6 April 2016

Accompanying students in launching a start-up is at the heart of HEC Paris’ digital entrepreneurship track. On 31 March during its first ever start-up launch pad pitching sessions, several teams of budding entrepreneurs had a chance to pitch their ideas to a jury of potential partners, VCs and accelerators.

Success-hungry digital entrepreneurs pitch their ideas at HEC Paris - HEC Paris 2016

This was the second part of a process that began on February 1st when HEC Paris and Ecole 42 launched the digital entrepreneurship track in which students have nine weeks to create a fully up-and-running company. The initiative also gives students at Paris Saclay University the chance to be part of the start-up teams and throughout the nine weeks the entrepreneurs are accompanied by mentors and other experts.

The session in one of HEC’s lecture theaters kicked off with an introduction by HEC Paris Digitial Center director Julien Lévy, and later featured 32 teams of young entrepreneurs, each with a limit of just five minutes to present their projects, which are firmly entrenched in the technology sector. Some wore matching t-shirts, others used magic tricks (one group burned money that disappeared when thrown in the air), but all aimed to push their ideas and convince the jury they will be successful.   

Programme co-directors Stéphane Madoeuf and Guillaume le Dieu de Ville were inundated with ideas and messages when announcing this initiative. They set about selecting the best candidates after initially choosing 39 teams (32 reached the pitch phase.) “The aim of the pitching exercise is not as a competition, but for the teams to express their needs. They then have a chance to meet with members of the jury afterwards for advice,” said one of the directors of the project, whose slogan is ‘learning by doing’.
Out of 15 start-ups created during a Beta trial of the scheme last year, 10 are still up and running.  

The pitches dealt with everything from an app that allows you to comment on everyday objects using augmented reality, to one that allows you to learn a language by regularly chatting to people from the country where it is spoken. Here is a selection of some of the start-up ideas.

UrgenceX

Dialling an emergency number is an archaic way of calling a fire engine or ambulance, according to the UrgenceX team. Its research shows that one in two call-outs for fire service emergencies in France are wasted journeys, meaning squandered resources. UrgenceX proposes eradicating emergency phone numbers all together, instead allowing people at the scene to film the incident, thus giving emergency services more information. At the same time, the app transmits the exact geolocation coordinates of the accident. 

   

Mon Wagon

This is an app that provides real time information about transport delays. Unlike its competitors, Mon Wagon is a community-based service whereby anyone delayed can share information in real time with the community. Users can also see who is connected and chat with them. As well as relying on users, the app picks up comments about travel delays on Twitter to paint an accurate picture of travel disruptions.


Needl

In a time when people work long hours, many want a good place to go out for a meal without disappointment. Some 85% of French rely on texting friends for advice on eateries and bars but such contacts are not always available! Enter Needl. This app enables users to find suitable restaurants based on trusted comments and ratings from their own friends, rendering this information more trustworthy.

Fresq

In advertising when it comes to posters and banners printed and displayed for a campaign, there is usually a very heavy workflow involved in the exchange of artwork between designer and creative agency.  Fresq allows these agencies to streamline this workflow using a platform that contains everything from proofing to validation features, and invites all concerned parties to be connected to the system. Its aim is therefore to optimize budget and communications around a campaign.

Trampolink

With a more philanthropic theme, this website addresses poverty in France and aims at helping the underprivileged and out-of-work to get back on their feet. Despite being the fifth largest economy, France has a lot of poverty and its many charities sometimes struggle to get those who lack opportunity out of social isolation. By finding donors who are willing to give money or their time (to help with training), Trampolink’s website provides financing and other assistance to those looking to jumpstart their career. Donors can then follow the progress of the person they have sponsored. This culminates with the two parties meeting face to face in the hope that the benefactor will share his network with his/her protegée.   

Izipaper

Need to get hold of your passport, an electricity bill dating back three months and your birth certificate in the same week? Izipaper is an app that will allow you to keep track of and source important documents in one transaction. After filling in just one form, the app saves you the stress of duplicating applications for these documents. The app is financed by advertising. For instance if you buy a new car and need to receive your registration document through the site, a car insurance company will approach you with an offer to insure your vehicle.   



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