Hydrologistics Africa: One Year Later

A bright future ahead for Hydrologistics Africa

Exactly one year! A colossal opportunity to launch ‘World’s First Virtual Water Network Operator’ in the heart city of Paris a thousand miles away from our country (Kenya). In an industry that has seen little disruption over the past decades we begun the journey to model technologies with a view to bring intelligence in water distribution network.

While water stress occurs throughout the world no region has been more afflicted than Sub-Saharan Africa which suffers from greater levels of water stress. Which begs the question as to why we came all the way to Europe with the idea (Bring value in every drop/every drop of water counts). Lack of water is an infrastructural concern effected by inefficiency in water distribution network which results from the conflicts of unpaid water bills, aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.

Three months in Paris building Hydrologistics Africa a water technology company bringing intelligence in water distribution by automating billing through mobile money and monitoring consumption real time through an online dashboard. First and foremost Techstars helped us conceptualize and sharpen the idea to create a business case that would stand out from the traditional models one that may blend to growing African population with few if any of our prototypes still at the development stage. Armed with technical expertise and advice from Techstars partners and mentors during long office hours (hardware development) shouldn’t be the order of play but rather scout for a partner manufacturer and fix attention on financial modelling, structuring and fundraising for the business.

In that period our team knocked door-door, remotely conducting a survey that would later accumulate as much data with insights showing over 90% of Nairobi residents needed a solution that could enable them monitor and manage their water consumption. This informed us from the beginning why Techstars uniquely positioned us to be ‘go to’ water service provider partner for major utilities across the African continent. Creating a Pan-African service group is significant strategic advantage to scale as first as possible and the reason Paris was the scene to network with renowned giant water companies (Veolia and Suez) just to mention a few.

First forward to 2018, we’ve built a platform that integrates mobile money with Kenya’s giant Mobile network operator Safaricom and we are building a mobile application for households to monitor water usage. What keeps us awake every other day? Signing up homes and gated communities to test the solution which we began with an average 200 monthly installations with the aim to reach 1,500 households by the end of 2018. We are partnering with Liquid Telecom the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa with the aim to use their well-established infrastructure where already Sigfox network exists to set up water monitoring sensors.  

In a nutshell, Techstars put a lot in us that made us a first. #GIVEFIRST. We look forward for exciting times ahead!








TerraManta – One Year After Techstars Paris

by the TerraManta team (Techstars Class 111) 

It’s difficult to believe that one year has passed since TerraManta joined Techstars Paris 2017 program.

We did not know what to expect prior to arriving in Paris.  What we found was an incredible ecosystem of mentors, advisors, and investors powered by overwhelming desire to help Techstars companies succeed.

Before sharing highlights about TerraManta progress, I have to express countless thanks to the Techstars team – both local and extended, the city of Paris for being our home away from home, and our launch customer – an integrated oil and energy company based in France.  

How long would it take for a complete outsider to become an expert in a deep domain?  

That’s the question my co-founder, Andrei Klimanov and I, asked prior to starting TerraManta.  For example, doctors require at least 10 years of education prior to practicing medicine with more years invested later in advancing their professional competency.

Crude oil is the biggest commodity market in the world.  Companies which depend on crude oil and distillates face enormous economic risks.  Airlines often hedge fuel prices by purchasing future contracts at a certain price.  Crude oil prices go up? Airlines win. Crude oil prices go down? Airlines often have to close fuel hedges – at a price – to take advantage of lower oil prices.  The economic risk ranges from hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars annually for these companies.

So how long would it take for a complete outsider to become a crude oil expert capable of forecasting future oil prices?  Probably at least 2 decades, while learning from other experts who have biases.

When crude oil prices collapsed in 2015 reaching $28 / barrel by mid January 2016, it became clear that crude oil experts were no longer equipped to analyze the impact of geo politics on crude oil market fundamentals (supply, demand, inventory, distribution, exports, imports) and resulting price actions.  

Something was missing.  

That “something” is a platform for domain specific analysis of unstructured and structured data with the goal to apply machine learning in deep domains where humans require many years to master and learn with inevitable biases.  

The platform is based on a goal centric learning principle, just like human analysts do when they elect to learn something.  They set a goal which aligns their knowledge acquisition approach. Acting just like a human crude oil analyst, TerraManta software instead will do the same.  

The first goal – can future crude oil prices be forecasted more accurately – became the first product:  TerraManta for Crude Oil. Our software analyzes about 4,000 energy relevant news from public data sources every day, obtains crude oil market fundamentals every month, and looks for correlation between topics influencing fundamentals and how changes in fundamentals cause price actions in the market.  What human analysts do today, TerraManta does automatically on a mass scale while learning every day.

Today, crude oil prices more than doubled since January 2016.  As a result, the interest in TerraManta is growing.

Several dialogs are in progress:  US based airline, major bank in Canada, another major bank in France, leading company providing specialized risk analytics for global corporations, and another leading company providing energy analytics.

We are also excited to support a 17-user trial with another global oil company

Does TerraManta software work?  We believe so. The software generated a price forecast on 25 September 2019 which was on target until 11 October 2018 (when this blog post was written).

The Techstars Paris program created many memories which will be forever remembered.  To name a few ….

Friendships and relationships which transcend borders and continents.  Exceptional coffee. Equally exceptional croissants. Grace under pressure redefined by program manager and associates.  

Above all, ‘give first’ was transformed from a spoken comment into a real and sustainable personal belief.  








SnapSwap’s Journey After Techstars

by the Snapswap Team (Techstars Class 111)

Opening an account online is still a painful process for customers and we hardly see people registering and verifying themselves directly from their phone or laptop.

Most of people are still going through the process manually whereas demand for digital services is increasingly booming. It represents a waste of time for customers and a waste of money for financial institutions. We wanted to develop a solution that would improve this process and this is how we came up with the idea of a remote automated onboarding solution for banks, the investment industry and other businesses. We created a white label customer onboarding solution, available 24/7, allowing customers to complete initial onboarding in less than five minutes rather than days. It allows customers to register themselves in a secure an instant way and consistently improve customer knowledge and traceability.

With our team, we put together the different set of skills in business, project management, computing and compliance to provide a brand new solution to the French market that would facilitate the onboarding process and provide a great user experience. Thanks to their past experiences, our team members have a deep knowledge of the bank and the insurance industries. They understand the needs and specific requirements of such demanding verticals, which allowed us to develop a customized solution with a corporate partner of the Techstars program.

Our Techstars journey represented a real trampoline for us, since we could meet key stakeholders of large French companies and develop new business connections. Techstars had a great team that was always pushing us out of our boundaries to provide the best in class solution. We received useful mentoring classes and intense training, would be put in connection with the right persons, would be given all the keys for the road of success. Today, our main focus for us is on international expansion and we are going to have major improvements in our product, in security and compliance.

 








Lovys, One Year After

by the Lovys team, from Techstars Class 111

Roughly one year ago we started our new adventure in France by setting big goals! We were thrilled by the ambition of giving to french customers a better solution for the way they buy any type of insurance. We were getting to a market that had been seen little changes since 15 to 20 years ago and whose actors have not been changing much either. France was known in this market by its solid insurance groups that despite their incredible resources were not managing to reinvent the way people relate to insurance products. What was wrong with the market? In many cases, purchasing and claim reporting were not 100% digital. In most of the cases, the interface with customer were full of jargon and poorly designed. In almost every case, insurance companies were giving no freedom to people to cancel their insurance whenever they wanted to.

So one year ago we challenged ourselves to build the most flexible digital insurance of the market.  We wanted to offer people a faster purchase, clearer language and a painless management. All this in a form of a monthly subscription where everything they pay is clear and that they cancel or change anytime. One year after, we are glad to say we already launched insurance for smartphones – and home insurance is just about to being launched! Also, we are very glad with our UI/UX design of our website we are just finishing and can’t wait to launch. Our next step is to build our car insurance service to launched early next year.

We are proud of the pace and that is thanks to our amazing team’s energy. Our crew has a very diversified background with one thing in common: our ambition to make the company grow fast  (in addition to our taste for mexican food, of course). They have created the first insurance comparison websites in Brazil, led projects of new product development for cosmetics brands and worked for the first Uber’s pilot for helicopters pooling. And they are eager for what is to come.

Last but (definitely) not least: Techstars’ role in Lovys first steps! More than providing useful business advice and putting us in contact with great mentors and advisers (which they did more than we could have expected), the Techstars team created an unforgettable working atmosphere. They were the first ones to believe in our project and we would never be where we are today if it was not for their very early support. Techstars also greatly helped in our development by putting us in contact with large players in the insurance industry and give us the credibility to develop meaningful partnerships.

If we were to sum up our time at Techstars in two words: Dynamic and enthusiastic (or Family Dinner)








Techstars Paris Accelerator Welcomes 11 Companies to Techstars Class 150

Last year, 10 innovative international startups joined the Techstars Paris Accelerator: Skycryptor, Eyelights, Hydrologistics Africa, Lovys, Miuros, POMP, SnapSwap, Terramanta, Wakeo and Zify. It is now time, for me, as new Managing Director of Techstars Paris, to reveal the names of the 11 new companies that will attend this 3-month intensive program and benefit from Techstars’ global network of partners, mentors and industry experts.

For Techstars Class 150, the selection has been extremely tough. We have been screening applications from all around the world (32 percent coming from France, 8 percent from India, 7 percent from the UK, etc.)

What really mattered when selecting startups? Team team team! At Techstars, we believe the team is at the core of a company’s success. Great teams make great companies!

To help startups grow and scale, the Techstars Paris Accelerator has the support of seven corporate partners: AccorHotels, Air Liquide, FDJ, Groupama, Total, GEFCO and Next47/Siemens, who joined as the newest partners earlier this year.

Here are the 11 Techstars Paris Accelerator 2018 companies – Welcome Techstars Class 150!

AZmed:

Optimizing and simplifying physicians’ workflow and diagnoses using AI

CloudGuide:

The global tourist app for smart sightseeing

Groover:

Using data science to reinvent PR and A&R for the music industry

HackMD:

Collaborative knowledge base built on markdown for technical documentation

KEA Medicals:

Developing the Universal Medical ID to make medical history available when necessary

LCB Industries:

Building wooden design office furniture customizable and shipped quickly

Prototypo:

Creating custom font in just a few clicks

RampUP:

AI-powered chatbot that accelerates the onboarding of new employees

Stockly:

Real time restock for e-retailers

Studio Novitas

Albert is an AI enabled medical voice assistant app for elderly people

Tarot Analytics:

“Waze for vehicle fleets”: simpler multi-stop route optimisation

If you’re interested in helping any of the companies, or if you just want to learn more, please feel free to DM me on Twitter or drop me an email.








Techstars Meet and Greet Paris

At Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,200 companies grow and raise over $4 billion in funding, with a market cap of $10 billion. Now we’re on a search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network!

We currently have applications open for Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator programs around the world. Join our program staff for an evening of networking, Q&A, and a chance to show us what you’re currently working on. They will be there to connect with you, inspire you, answer your questions and tell you more about our programs.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:

  • 12:00pm – Doors open, food and drinks served
  • 12.30pm – Techstars Presentation
  • 1.00pm – Question Time
  • 1.15pm – Open Networking


Event ends 2.00pm

ALREADY KNOW THAT TECHSTARS IF A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
Apply for Office Hours, a 30-minute session on the day of, the day before or after the Meet and Greet Event, where you meet one-on-one with one of our attending Directors.








Why Paris & Partech Shaker are the Best Places to Grow your Business in Europe Right Now

After opening the first mentorship-driven accelerator program in France last year, Techstars partners (again) with Partech Shaker to offer alumni a place to grow their businesses in Europe. With Partech Shaker’s Europe Made Easy soft-landing solution, the startup campus’ team will definitely make it easy for Techstars alumni to develop in the best possible conditions!

Paris has become a remarkably relevant place to launch and develop tech companies both at the early pre-launch stages and later on.

The first reason for tech companies to go to Paris is the quantity of business opportunities. Paris is the number one business region in Europe. The city of love is also the city with the highest GDP in Europe, the world’s third highest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters (before London) and is first in Europe for R&D capability and expenditure.

What about tech companies? Well, let’s listen to John Chambers, Cisco : “France is the Silicon Valley of Europe” or Sheryl Sandberg : “France is home to some of the most innovative technology companies in the world.” Paris has become the number one region for developing startups in Western Europe, with the highest number of VC deals and more than 10,000 startups. There is also a growing number of repeat entrepreneurs willing to reinvest and mentor.

The second reason is tech talent, especially in engineering. French tech talents are among the best in the world. Partech Shaker comes in as a facilitator to leverage Paris’ two key factors of success: business network & talent.

Launched in 2014 by the leading tech investment fund Partech, the campus offers top-of-the-range office-as-a-service with panoramic rooftop in central Paris. But location and lifestyle are just the first bricks, as Partech Shaker also leverages its powerful network of partners to boost residents’ growth. Large enterprises in almost every industry, leading tech companies and the most prestigious schools and universities are part of the network, along with the Techstars’ alumni.

In 2016, Partech Shaker decided to attract more foreign companies: it now facilitates contact with curated experts in every field a company needs to address when opening operations in a new country (lawyers, funding and tax experts, headhunters and a bank). Today, about 40 percent of residents are non-French companies, who have chosen Partech Shaker to either develop their business, build a tech team, or both. Among present and past residents are Cambridge Blockchain, Dropbox, HotelTonight, Hired, Liftoff, Made.com, Pinterest, and Techstars’ alumni Zify.

Partech Shaker welcomes an average of 25 teams simultaneously, with no time-restriction or program to follow, but a network to leverage, for the price of a lovely office in central Paris. Techstars’ alumni will also benefit from a special offer as we share the same motto: Give first!








Julien Quintard Joins Techstars as Managing Director of the Techstars Paris Accelerator

In 2017, Techstars announced the opening of an accelerator program in Paris. I am very excited to join Techstars and take over as Managing Director for Techstars Paris accelerator program.

Techstars represents all the values that I believe in and that I cherish in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, most notably mentorship. I believe Paris’ ecosystem can benefit a lot more from Techstars. I would love for Techstars to act as a magnet to get the most successful entrepreneurs to give back to the community by helping the new generation of entrepreneurs. Paris has a lot to offer as well when it comes to entrepreneurship. France is known for having extraordinary schools and research institutions. The new generation of college graduates are no longer looking for settling in a large corporation and spending their career there. They want to take risks and change the world!

A Life Experience

I created my company, Infinit, out of my research at the University of Cambridge. Back in France, we met with a few people who helped us get started but the ecosystem was nascent and it was very difficult to find entrepreneurs with expertise. The first years were very difficult and we made a lot of mistakes.

But everything changed when, in 2014, Infinit was selected to join Techstars in NYC. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. The program took a lot more energy than I was ready to give. But I learned so much! There, we met so many experienced entrepreneurs (SquareSpace, Kickstarter, Github, Foursquare, Digital Ocean etc.) who became our mentors and helped us even long after we had left the program.

That is Techstars’ true value: a network of like-minded people giving their time and energy for you to achieve your dream. Even long after your company exits, you are still part of a large family that will always answer positively when it comes to helping other entrepreneurs: Techstars is for life!

Give First

Following my experience in the NYC accelerator program, I started mentoring other entrepreneurs in Paris following Techstars’ credo #givefirst. Mentoring was as beneficial to me as it was to the entrepreneurs. I’ve learned through their challenges, discovered markets and most importantly met amazing people who eventually became friends. In short, I became a better entrepreneur thanks to them.

Even though it sounds idealistic, I can attest that I wouldn’t be Managing Director today if it were not for it. After selling my company to Docker in 2016, Techstars called me. It happened that my name had been circulating: fellow entrepreneurs had recommended me, other had vouched for the value of my mentorship and so on. This would never have been possible if I had not started helping other entrepreneurs in the first place without expecting anything in return.

French Revolution

Although France has a reputation for heavy bureaucracy and is still perceived as hostile to success, the truth is that France is also one of the best places to start a company. There are so many unfair advantages: grants (CIR, AIMA, etc.), innovation-specific benefits (JEI) and loans from the city, region and government, not to mention now easier processes to get a VISA through the French Tech. So much that even the government has its own incubator developing innovative online services for the country while corporations invest massively in innovation.

Techstars is right at the center of this revolution. On one end, Techstars just completed its first ever french program dedicated to intrapreneurship. This program, called Techstars Corporate Innovation Bootcamp takes the best teams of our corporate partners for six weeks to develop their business ideas. On the other end, and most importantly, these companies (Air Liquide, FDJ, Accor Hotels, Groupama, Total, Gefco and Next 47) work with Techstars through the city program with the goal of partnering with the Techstars startups. Not only are those corporate partners ready and willing to work with startups but they are dedicating massive resources to make that happen with Techstars’ selected companies.

What’s Next?

As Managing Director, my job consists in finding the best 10 companies to join the program. Quite a challenge given the quality of the companies applying that keep raising the bar. We are especially interested in companies tackling challenges in artificial intelligence, blockchain, security, hardware, energy and transportation. We are looking for companies that leverage the growing amount of information at our disposal to take better decision, remove biais etc.

Another very important aspect of my day-to-day job will be to help/assist/mentor the companies joining the program. Even though I have my fair share of experience in technology, strategy, marketing, recruitment, product, partnership etc. I am far from an expert in all of those areas. This is where Techstars’ networking effect takes all its dimension. Should you need more expertise, an introduction to a prospective client or else, I will connect you to the right person from Techstars, being in Paris or somewhere else in the world so that you can always do more faster!

If you have a team, an idea, a project, an existing business and would like to take it to the next stage, feel free to read the application toolkit and apply to Techstars Paris’ next class that will start in September 2018. Note that we will be hosting an AMA on the May 3rd, 2018, register here to join it.

As for me, you can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Looking forward to meeting you in person.








Learn More About the Techstars Paris Accelerator Partners

AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,200 hotels, resorts and residences ,as well as in over 10,000 of the finest private homes around the globe. Through a heartfelt mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome.

Topics of interest 2018:

  • AI for customer relationship – hyper personnalisation.
  • Big data
  • Cybersecurity
  • Autonomisation
  • AR / VR
  • IoT
  • Social network of services (daily services, management of employees and planning)
  • Blockchain (validation of contract, crypto money)
  • Prop tech – Data management (management and performance of buildings, privacy and storage)

Employees: 250,000 in 95 countries

The world leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, Air Liquide serves more than 3.5 million customers and patients. Oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen are essential small molecules for life, matter and energy. They embody Air Liquide’s scientific territory and have been at the core of the company’s activities since its creation in 1902. long term. I

Topics of interest 2018:

  • Data analytics
  • Administrative tasks
  • Customer excellence
  • Asset management.

Employees: 65,000 in 80 countries

FDJ is the French national Lottery and Sports Booking leader. 4th lottery group in the world, FDJ  develops and operates 5 ranges of games : draw games, fast draw games, scratch cards, interactive digital games and sports betting. With €15,1 billion of stakes and 26 million players in 2017, FDJ guarantees the accessibility of its games with a distribution network of more than 31,000 points of sale, a website and applications for smartphones and tablets.

Topics of interest 2018:

  • Customer experience
  • AI for customer management
  • Customer Interface
  • Payment solutions
  • Digital ID
  • Data driven marketing
  • AR / VR

Employees: 2,100

GEFCO Group – Global player in industrial logistics and European leader in automotive logistics. GEFCO designs and implements flexible and smart supply chain solutions in more than 300 locations.

Topics of interest 2018:

  • Flow optimisation analytics
  • Applied Data
  • Real-time external transport-related data
  • Blockchain technology
  • IoT –  Intelligent trackers and connected sensors

Employees: 13,000

Groupama – Insuring tomorrow with confidence. The group’s identity is built on Groupama’s agricultural origins and its territorial roots anchor it in the everyday reality of its members and customers. Global insurer with operations in France, Southern and Eastern Europe, and China. (€13.6B in combined premium income; 13M customers).

Topics of interest 2018:

  • Operations Automation (RPA, AI …)
  • Data-driven products
  • Insurtech
  • RegTech
  • IoT

Employees: 32,600

Next47 is a global venture firm created by Siemens that invests in, and partners with, entrepreneurs who think big and build industry-defining companies. With offices in Boston, Beijing, London, Munich, and Palo Alto, Next47 gives startups unparalleled access to one of the world’s largest portfolios of customers in the areas of industry, energy and infrastructure as well as domain expertise in the deep technologies that impact those customers.

Total is the world’s fourth-largest oil and gas company, as well as a major integrated player in low-carbon energies. Backed by nearly a century of history, Total discover, produce, transform, market and distribute energy in a variety of forms, to serve the end customer. Total is committed to energy that is affordable, reliable and clean, in compliance  with the highest safety and environmental standards.

Topics of interest 2018:

  • Customer Relationship
  • Data
  • AI
  • Voice
  • IoT
  • Energy Services

Employees: 98,000








Techstars Roadshow: Techstars Paris Meet-up and Alumni Night

Applications for Techstars Paris are open!!

Come join us at Techstars Paris space, meet the Manager Director, some of our founders and staff.

Techstars Paris Accelerator 2018 to focus on data-driven transformation of entire industries

This global theme includes a wide range of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain and token-based economies, applied to administrative tasks, customer experience, customer and asset management, cybersecurity, intelligent objects, and many others.

Techstars Paris Accelerator is looking for startups that can leverage the use of data in the real world of our corporate partners.