Launching Paris Techstars Accelerator Class of April 2022

Apr 09, 2022
By Raphaele Leyendecker, Managing Director of Paris Techstars Accelerator.

As MD of Paris Techstars Accelerator, I am happy to share the launch of our first 2022 Class. 12 solid companies started on Monday April 4th our 13-weeks program. As we run on hybrid format, we welcomed 25 participants for a first week in Paris, coming from 9 different countries. Most of them will leave Paris this week-end to return home and attend the 11 next weeks remotely before coming back on June 27th for our last week in-person and prepare for the live Demo Day on June 30th in Paris.

Announcing the 12 companies on Demo Day

When I arrived in November right in the middle of the sourcing period, I decided to refocus our investment thesis on founders willing to build a better future thanks to technology, taking companies from France but also foreigners with a strong interest in settling to France/Europe. I did not want to limit it to any sector until positive impact could be proven. Ambition was set to aim at companies having a global footprint with strong tech roots and traction.

Receiving applications from online AMA with french actors and Techstars EMEA colleagues, trips to local communities in France, referrals from our network of alumni and mentors, it took us some time to organize the first interviews with about 150 founders. I was lucky enough to narrow my selection to the Top12 with the help of like-minded investors including Chris Adelsbach from Outrun Ventures, Sofia Dahoune from Elaia Capital, Romain Lavault from Partech, Nancy Brown, Kartik Varma and Hilla Ovil-Brenner from Techstars. As operating investor, I believe our mission at Techstars is to select great companies obviously but furthermore to make sure that the selection of 12 will create life long relationships of successful entrepreneurs. With the experience of our first week all together, I could not be more satisfied of my choices.

In order to focus on execution, we won't publicly announce our 12 companies before the end of the program on Demo Day. This will let entrepreneurs time to rethink their roadmap and create added value to their companies thanks to +100 connections they will make during these 3 intense coming months. It is a hard decision since every company would have liked the joy of sharing the selection in the social medias, without mentioning the epic moments we already spent during the first week.

What I can disclose though is that 60% of our companies are French, when the others come from Mexico, the United States, Germany, Latvia or the Netherlands. They are tackling challenges such as climate change, energy transition, deforestation, access to drinkable water, pollution, clean mobility, small farmers autonomy or ESG compliance. All of the companies are B2B, 11 of them already have a product live on the market generating revenues and have welcomed investors. They build biotech, hardware and software products using AI, machine learning, satellite imagery, battery systems, PV, or IoT. 40% of this April 2022 Class has been founded by women.

If you are really curious to get to know them, here is a chance to pre-register to our Demo Day in June in Paris.

Kick off the first week like...

After spending a 2-days retreat in Fontainebleau between nature and culture with our founders, the Paris Techstars Accelerator set office in Saint-Lazare to work for 5 fully booked days. The goal of the week was to set up the right expectations and I could not be happier to gather such a beautiful crowd of talented individuals with sustainability at heart.  I am grateful to count in my team Rebecca Ravenni as Program Manager, Johann Romefort as CTO in Residence and 5 associates to be hands-on with companies on topics such as Business Development, Design and Product.

We received numerous inspiring visits during the week: big corporations investing in sustainable development coming from all over Europe, Techstars teammates, french local partners, mentors in Paris and VCs. Here is a glimpse of our past program.

Pitch sessions - a public speaking training with Camille Dancoisne, 2 pitches and 1 reverse pitch.

VC panel on impact investing and ESG framework with Anais Blarel ESG Manager at Revaia, Baptiste Fradin investor at FAMAE Impact, Charles Fourault investor at AFI Ventures and Olivier Mougenot investor at Citizen Capital where founders could ask intimate questions on Dos and Don’ts.

Founder stories with Chris Adelsbach and myself - I can’t thanks Chris enough for being part of our journey, sharing how he built and exited his company, then became a Techstars MD in London and now investing in many founders each year (especially in Fintech)

Power of the network - we were supported by great minds at Techstars with the welcome call from Maelle Gavet (our CEO) and David Cohen (Chairman and Techstars cofounder), the visit of John Hill in Paris (Evangelist at Techstars who did a Euro tour to give the best tips to incoming founders starting in Berlin, Dublin and London) and the precious help of Joy Zoltobroda (Partners Relations Director EMEA who opened her network of corporates). We were also backed by a powerful network in France, having the luck to be received for a magical kick off night by Rija GoldScheider leading our partnership with We Don’t Need Road on marketing and sustainability and welcoming some of our mentors and alumni for a community event in our offices on Thursday.

I believe magic can happen when you surround yourself with people who believe in you. This first week was a perfect illustration and I can’t wait to see what will come next. If you want to be part of it, pre-register to our Demo Day in June in Paris.

About the Author
Raphaele Leyendecker

Raphaele Leyendecker is the Managing Director of Paris Techstars Accelerator. Raphaele is a sustainability and digital entrepreneur, startup board member and early stage investor. She is also versed in strategic innovation and venture building, working with 55+ corporations such as Engie, Suez, Schneider Electric, L’Oreal, Nespresso Unither Pharmaceuticals or Kiloutou over the years.