Station F is real, and it’s spectacular

September 30, 2017

On a brief trip to Paris last week I finally found an opportunity to visit the freshly opened Station F.

In a former railway depot which spans the entire length of Tokyo Tower* on its side, Station F bills itself as the world’s largest startup campus. The facility opened its doors in July.

Many people in Japan and other parts of Asia of varying organizations have asked my opinion about Station F. Now I finally feel qualified to give it.

I’ll start off with a blanket endorsement:

  1. If you are an Asian startup, VC, or innovation-seeking corporation with global ambitions that encompass Europe, Station F could be the perfect beachhead for you.
  2. If you are in one of the three above categories but for whom Europe is in your blind spot, Station F is a perfect way to enhance your vision.
  3. If you are an Asian startup, VC, or innovation-seeking corporation who is ignorant of the plethora of innovation taking place in Europe these days, read this, this, this, and this. Then return to step 1.

In other words, Europe should be on your radar if it isn’t already. And Station F makes it easy for you.

Granted, the construction dust was still settling when I visited, and the startup section seemed a bit empty. However, the ambition is there. You can smell it. Station F is not just another one of those provincial, franco-French initiatives. I deliberately wrote a piece back in 2016 (Free, unsolicited advice for Station F) in hopes they would not fall into this trap. They didn’t.

Quite the opposite. Station F endeavors to become an entire international ecosystem, hosting 1,000 startups, as well as investors, business service providers, public services (e.g visa assistance), event space, a food court, and soon even a housing extension for 600 entrepreneurs.

Concretely, here are some of the most relevant opportunities Station F currently has on offer:

  • For foreign startups — Station F offers over 25 different incubation and acceleration programs for which you may be eligible. Find out more here.
  • For foreign VCs — Station F was offering for a limited time an access package of 5 – 10 days per month (fee of under $1k/mo) for tier-1 foreign funds. I understand this opportunity may be oversubscribed, but feel free to ping me for a direct introduction.
  • For foreign corporations — Station F will soon introduce a one-day summit package, which would involve a custom-tailored session and startup introductions relevant to the corporation’s specific needs. I understand this package is not quite ready but will be happy to connect you to the appropriate person if you’re interested.

On a final note and to address a frequent inquiry: Station F is not a co-working space, nor is it a service for company domiciliation (both such services are already widely available throughout Paris).

I’m bullish on Station F

Yes, it’s still early days. It remains to be seen whether the reality in execution fulfills the ambition. But I’m bullish on Station F and am encouraging all of my foreign portfolio companies to give it a serious look. You should too.

Sincere thanks to Roxanne and Cédric for the personal guided tour !

* Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower, yet only half the weight.

posted in venture capital by mark bivens

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