HEC – 42 Start-Up Launchpad: Pitch Day 2019
On 22 March at Station F, each team condensed months of research, analysis and creative thinking into a 3-minute pitch presenting their ideas for a start-up to a Jury.
The Start-Up Launchpad is a recently established partner program between HEC Paris and École 42, which pairs up students from both schools and allows them to create a new business over the course of 10 weeks. The program is sponsored by the Cagni Foundation, a charity set up by Pascal Cagni which aims to support innovative educational projects; Cagni earned an MBA from HEC Paris in 1986 and was Vice-President of Apple in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa from 2000 to 2012.
This year saw a larger number of participants than ever before and, for the first time, the program was conducted entirely in English. This year’s program also welcomed students from NYU’s Stern School of Business and from L’École de Guerre in Paris. On 22 March at Station F, each team condensed months of research, analysis and creative thinking into a 3-minute pitch presenting their ideas for a start-up to a Jury.
The event began with a welcome word from Guillaume Le Dieu de Ville, Director of the Start-Up Launchpad, who reminded us that the primary aim of the program is to teach students “how to be more responsible” in an ever-evolving landscape where the creation of sustainable business models is becoming a priority. Fittingly, many pitches put forth ideas for a waste management business, focusing either on recycling, packaging or supply chains. Other teams capitalized upon modern-day progress in technology and proposed ideas for a business using AI to identify fraudulent activity online, or an app allowing Chinese customers to buy clothes from independent European brands through livestreams.
Overall, 25 teams pitched their projects and competed to win the most votes: the two winners won a place onto the HEC incubator where they will be able to pursue their dreams and officially launch their start-ups.
Fantastic news for the three students behind MAWA, a new business which simultaneously processes organic waste and provides food for the population in rural Africa by using Black Soldier Flies, which feed off the waste, transform it into protein and fat, and become food for livestock. With a successful prototype farm already set up in Uganda, the MAWA team are sure to become leaders in the field of sustainable waste management in developing countries.
Also fantastic news for the team behind Liebr, a new website and app allowing motorcyclists to find the right mechanic at any time. Founded by three childhood friends who share a passion for motorbikes and wish to breathe life back into a waning industry, Liebr marks the start of a new chapter in French motorcycle history.
Although MAWA and Liebr may have won this year’s Launchpad, other businesses presented on Pitch Day were just as impressive and will no doubt find ample support from advisors and investors.
From Condor, a new device allowing farmers to target weeds with their herbicide sprays by using special in-built cameras, to Coslo, a family business helping restaurant managers buy the cheapest raw materials through the digital analysis of invoices from their suppliers, the teams on this year’s program took innovation to a new level.
The sheer range of business ideas was truly dazzling. The founders of Delight, a pharmaceutical brand combining Chinese herbal medicine with European scientific excellence in order to combat menstrual pain, shared the stage with the founders of Trendys, an app designed to facilitate online shopping by bridging the gap between Instagram and retail websites. The man behind IKWA, a cross-border retail outlet allowing Western consumers to purchase hand-made rugs directly from Nomadic artists without contributing to an unethical supply chain, shared the stage with the team behind Fletch, a new tool using machine-learning algorithms for advanced data analysis.
Frédéric Jousset, President of the HEC Alumni Association, delivered the closing address: "Each and every project pitched at Station F today is a perfect display of responsible, innovative and impactful thinking. You have tackled the most pressing issues faced by humanity today, from a consumer’s standpoint as well as a business perspective. Achieving such a feat in 10 weeks is simply incredible. […] HEC has come so far since I graduated in 1992 and you should be very proud of your work over the past ten weeks."
Mr Jousset is the founder of Webhelp, a global BPO provider specialising in technical consultancy, business process management and customer experience across a range of digital and traditional voice channels. Based on his own experience with launching a start-up, he reiterated the value of new businesses in the fight for positive change:
In entrepreneurship, there is more than just money at stake. Governments do not have the power to drive change as much as you do.
He also suggested that he would try to raise a fund through the HEC alumni network to help launch each business from this year’s program: a fitting tribute to the quality of the pitches and the potential for each project to become a successful company with a global impact.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Start-Up Launchpad program this year – students, professors, mentors, business angels and organizers – and good luck to all budding entrepreneurs with the launch of their companies.
Learn more about the program: