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Highlights of the 3rd edition of the Creative Lab

Left to right, bottom to top : Thierry Secrétan, Daphné Lora (Cultural Services), Manon Wong, Xavier Hansen (Verizon Envrnmnt), Aurélie Roger (Business France), Cécile Fouché (Business France), Homéric de Sarthe, Audrey-Laure Bergenthal, Grégoire Sierra, Patrick Azzopardi, Isabelle Raux (Business France), Thierry Sibieude, Vincent Burgevin, Mathieu Desoubeaux, Pierre Addoum, François-Xavier Goemaere, Mathieu Fournet (Cultural Services), Loïc Giraut, Vicent Autin, Guillaume Pineau-Valencienne, Philippe Reinaudo

From November 6 to 15, 2017, New York and Los Angeles welcomed the third edition of the French-American Creative Lab (ex Digital Lab), a booster program for startups from the media, culture and entertainment industries. The Creative Lab was co-produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Business France and supported by the Institut français and FACE Foundation. Over their 10 days in the United States, the participants were exposed to numerous creative experiences, encounters and workshops to support their expansion in the US market. By the end of the program, they had attained a deeper understanding of the American market, accrued valuable insight into adapting their products for a foreign audience and gained a stronger local network. Here is a quick photo report of the highlights of this informative and enlightening experience!

The Faces of the 2017 Edition of the French-American Creative Lab

Here are the 8 startups disrupting the publishing, photography, audiovisual, museum and fashion industries that made the trip to NY and LA:

Pierre Addoum, Guillaume Pineau-Valencienne and Homéric de Sarthe from BEAR.   
BEAR Augmented Reality platform bridges the gap between print and digital. In France, BEAR is already bringing the power of AR to the largest publishers (Hachette, Editis) and brands (La Poste, Decathlon, BNP, Pages Jaunes), which has led to several hundreds of thousands of user interactions each month. 

Vincent Autin from biin.
biinlab web platform designed by biin–short for Bureau d’Idées Nouvelles, or “Office of New Ideas” in English–allows cultural and touristic institutions, brands, and events that want to convey information to their public to create touch apps in few clicks highlighting and sharing their data. 

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal and Manon Wong from Euveka.
EUVEKA is a startup in France’s Drôme region specializing in robotic technologies linked to morphology and biomimicry. Euveka manufactures and develops evolutive and connected mannequins controlled by a design software for use by clothing industry professionals.

Mathieu Desoubeaux and Thierry Secretan from Imatag
On the web, most images circulate without source or author information attached. Imatag produces invisible and unbreakable watermark technology that ensures that any published image will be linked to its author forever. 

Philippe Reinaudo from FireFly Cinema
FireFly Cinema offers solutions for managing and encoding high-resolution (up to 8K) digital dailies using Cloud Infrastructure at unprecedented speeds and for an unrivaled price. 

Grégoire Sierra and Patrick Azzopardi from RacontR
RacontR is an interactive digital design solution for graphic designers. With RacontR, graphic designers can create websites and mobile desktop applications in no time. This technology gives designers their creative freedom back by giving life to their digital creations without hindrance. 

Christophe Sibieude and Loic Giraut from Short Edition
Short Edition is the community publisher of short literature (it includes 200,00 regular readers, 7,000 authors, and 85,000 short stories). Short Edition created the Short Story Dispenser, a groundbreaking innovation that promotes culture and to improve customer relationships. 

Vincent Burgevin and François-Xavier Goemaere from SkyBoy
SkyBoy designs Overlap Reality®, a technology that permits brands and tourist attractions to offer their visitors a unique experience where reality and virtual reality overlap via Smartphone.

From the vibrant New York City…

The New York partners of the program, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Business France, the Made in NY Media Center by IFP and NYC Economic Development Corporation, welcomed the 15 entrepreneurs when they arrived at DUMBO early on November 6. Hearing about the city’s initiatives to foster tech innovation was just what the French entrepreneurs needed to get ready to get to the heart of the subject: US expansion.

©Roman Makhmutov

  • Training Sessions

We like to start the program with an inspirational speaker in order to widen the participants’ perspectives as they set foot in New York. This year, our opening speaker, Xavier Hansen from Verizon envrmnt (Verizon’s AR/VR platform and R&D), delivered an exciting talk on the future of Virtual Reality

In more practical considerations, Business France gave an overview of the business fundamentals for US expansion, including a focus on cultural differences and the way to approach business meetings. Creative Lab’s 2016 successful Alumnus Arnaud Dressen (Wonda VR) then shared his experience in the US since he completed the program.

Additional sessions focused on specific topics such as strategies for getting the media’s attention and developing a meaningful US press presence, and how to approach fundraising in the US. The startups were later invited to test their ability to pitch to investors and get feedback to prep for future fundraising campaigns.

©Roman Makhmutov

  • Workshops

One of the most valued aspects of the Creative Lab is the various practical workshops that allow the participants to reflect and work on their own projects.

The marketing strategy workshop was undoubtedly highly anticipated by the startups. An impressive group of seventeen mentors joined us to provide guidance to the entrepreneur they were paired with and help them define an approach to the US market.

“[The Marketing Workshop was] very satisfying with experts able to get instantly our market and set up a strategy. [We] would definitely recommend [our mentors] for their good advice and great connections they have made for us” – Euveka

A second workshop dedicated to “UX Design & Customer Centric Branding” took place at the Havas Soho office. During this session, the participants experienced a new Object-Oriented UX method that the agency started using recently. Some of the participants are already implementing it in their businesses!

“We loved OOUX and we are already using it internally” – BEAR

The third Creative Lab workshop was all about pitching: tips about presenting their projects, pitch in public training, feedback on their pitch deck design. 

 “I started from scratch and I came out with everything I needed!” – biin

  • Offsite

Part of the program brings the startups to the headquarters of leading innovative companies for offsite sessions, allowing them to experience the spirit of the NYC tech community. In conclusion to an intense first week, we brought the participants to the impressive Google campus in Chelsea Market. There, Matthieu Lorrain, Head of Creative Innovation at Google Zoo, shared how he and his team use creative technologies for brands.

©Roman Makhmutov

  • Networking

Various networking events took place throughout the program and served as opportunities for the French startups to meet members of the local ecosystems.

At the Welcome Drink at the Embassy, we officially welcomed the startups to New York and thanked our program partners, speakers and mentors for their time and dedication. In attendance was Karen Bhatia, NYCEDC Vice President of Initiatives, who leads EDC’s work in creative and applied tech.

The Creative Lab’s first public pitches took place at French Founders during a Business & Wine event. The 8 presentations were followed by a cocktail during which the French Founders members could share their experience in successfully expanding to the US with participants. The event was live streamed here: bit.ly/2sU7QPD

The Demo Night at General Assembly was certainly one of the key moments of the program as the entrepreneurs pitched in front of a large assembly of more than 150 American and French officials and professionals of the tech and cultural sectors, VCs, and media.

… to the creative Los Angeles

©Thierry Secretan

After a well-deserved rest over the weekend, the 8 French-American Creative Lab startups went back to work for the second part of the program, taking place for the first year in Los Angeles, the second US tech hub for Media and Entertainment. This new addition to the program, intended to offer a more complete vision of the entrepreneurial possibilities in the United States, was very well received by the participants. RacontR states “[Los Angeles is the] second biggest city for business! And such a complementary business environment.

  • Understanding the West Coast

We partnered with 18 Havas, the global research and innovation network within Havas, for the second part of the program. Thomas Jorion, manager of 18 Havas LA, welcomed participants early Monday morning into his office for an introduction to the LA landscape and the latest trends developing on the West Coast.

Thomas concluded the morning with a presentation on brand experience in a post-media world, where physical and digital blend and screens disappear. To demonstrate his point, Thomas took the French-American Creative Lab group for a field trip to Venice to see how the neighborhood is changing and how the city is the new playground to engage with consumers in innovative ways.

Nothing beats site visits for getting a good taste of Los Angeles. This is why the participants joined a tour of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), an independent, accredited school of architecture in Downtown Los Angeles, and visited the Technicolor Experience Center, where artists and scientists from across the industry come together to realize the full potential of immersive media.

In order to experience the different between the East and the West coast VC scenes, the startups pitched again in front of a panel of investors in LA.

Finally, we met with Baptiste Andrieux, founder et Executive Producer of Eight VFX to conclude the program by looping back to US expansion with a discussion about technology, his past and upcoming projects, setting up a business in LA and the cultural differences between France and the US.

©Sébastien Paquet

  • Concluding in a “chic” way

The French-American Creative Lab 2017 concluded on a high note on the evening of Tuesday, November 14, as the startups regrouped in the very chic Beverly Hills neighborhood. The Demo Night and closing cocktail reception took place in the beautiful garden of the Residence of France under the patronage of the Consul General of France in Los Angeles Christophe Lemoine. The participants presented their best pitches to a large public and gave demos of their products under the moonlight.

©Roman Makhmutov

Individual Business Meetings

A significant amount of time in both cities was dedicated to individual meetings to foster business partnership between the French startups and major US institutions and companies, among which were iconic museums, leading media companies, big corporate brands, experts in the fashion or movie industries and other cultural institutions. We also facilitated introductions to specialists (including lawyers, accountants, and recruiters) upon each startup’s request in order for them to explore their specific needs.

 “We have been impressed by the quality of our meetings in NY with top tier publishers. We had the opportunity to meet with the right people in companies that were definitively our targets. – BEAR

Among the significant meetings organized in New York, of special mention should be the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Coca-Cola Company, the NY Times, Goldcrest, the Brooklyn Public Library, Getty Image, Harbor, Pinterest, Gulliver’s Gate Miniature World, JC Decaux, Assouline Publishing, Abrams Books, Wall Street Journal, NY Fashion Tech Lab, Catherine Barba, Razorfish, AMC Networks, and Filmnation.

In Los Angeles, the entrepreneurs had the chance to meet with Lionsgate, Los Angeles World Airports, Metro of Los Angeles, the California Fashion Association (CFA), Los Angeles Tourism, Air BnB, Radiant, and Cognition.la.

Conclusion: their words speak for themselves

The feedback of the participants was very positive:

“We now understand the specificities of the American culture. [The Creative Lab gave us] a better understanding of "how to do business in the US and with American […] We wanted to test the US market before making the big jump. After the meetings we had there is no doubt that we will go for it – BEAR

“[The Creative Lab is a] perfect program for companies with a strong potential on the US market” – Euveka

“[The Creative Lab is] a great and efficient way to test the [US] market” RacontR

“The Creative Lab provides a rich and varied program with learning points that can be applied to a more global expansion strategy (we are also looking at expanding to Western Europe this year). In this matter, the program went beyond my expectations” – biin

“Great organization, well balanced between individual and collective sessions!” – SkyBoy

“We wanted to better feel the business spirit, to learn, to see, to meet... and to make business. [The program is] a good mix of networking, business meetings, tips of French entrepreneurs, speakers” – Short Edition

 “Very good workshops. Very good speakers. The creative lab people did organize some really good one-on-one meetings for FireFly” – FireFly

 “The program opened our eyes to some realities of the US market that we didn't anticipate. […] What we’ve learned is invaluable.” – IMATAG


Want to see more? The team documented their adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin via #CreativeLab, as well as on the Facebook page of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Press included our partner Maddyness, as well as Les Echos, L’Usine Digitale, Tech.co, and Gary’s Guide.

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, partner or a participant of the next edition, please contact us at creative-lab@frenchculture.org

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