When the Jean-Baptiste Say Institute brings students to San Francisco

    Study trip - October 2019 - Travel Notebook



  • The Travelers

    121 lucky students

    ESCP Europe

    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option

    51 Paris-campus located students, 39 Madrid-campus located students and 31 Berlin-campus located students, 121 in total who attend the specialization course, that is a 180-hour path, launched in September.

    Sylvain Bureau

    Professor at ESCP Europe

    Scientific Director of the Jean -Baptiste Say Institute

    The Jean-Baptiste Say Institute sponsored by EY and RCI Bank and Services aims to train and support the tomorrow's entrepreneurs to be prepared to face the business transformations




  • A customised learning expedition

    Why San Francisco?

    Learning about Entrepreneurship from the experts in San Francisco

    ESCP Europe as a Business School has an educational vocation beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Learning expeditions are an amazingly powerful learning booster... they foster awareness and inspiration as well as broadening horizons. Each year, we bring students to San Francisco to expose them to its outstanding Entrepreneurship eco-system.

    Silicon Valley. San Francisco. These are names that immediately evoke images of dynamic start-ups and disruptive companies that have revolutionised the way we work, relax, travel, communicate and so much more.

    What did they do?

    Programme at a glance

    A dense programme encouraging multiple


    14th October:

    - Conference with Jack Fuchs, Affiliate Professor, Stanford

    - UC Berkeley visit with a conference with Professor Paul Duguid

    15th October:

    - Conference “What makes the difference in Silicon Valley's innovation” with Cyrile Bordeaux Senior Anaylst at Favernovel

    - Conference “How I started an AI company in my sleep” with Gil Allouche, CEO METADATA IO

    - Conference "PayPal Social innovations and sustainability " with Ayo Chaney & Andrew Harris, Software Engineer, Tech Leadership Rotation Program

    16th October:

    - Company visit: Carloz Diaz / The Refiners
    - Company visit: Frédéric Plais / Platform.sh

    - Company visit: Benjamin Antier / Publica

    - Stanford visit with lunch with Professor Chuck Eesley

    17th October:

    - Meeting Thomas Mazimann, Growth Marketing Ninja at SaaStr | Ex Voxeet

    - Meeting Rui Zhang, Vice president of Gumi inc., Head of Gumis Cryptos

    - Conference "Integrity, community and the slower path to success" with Raman Frey, Founder GP Dinners Partner AH Global

    18th October:

    - Projects pitching by students

  • Our take aways from San Francisco

    What stood out from conferences, company visits etc...

    Welcome to the Silicon Valley - Opening conference by Jack Fuchs ​


    MiM programme - Option Entrepreneurship

    An astounding introductory conference to launch our discovery of the Silicon Valley
    The students from option E were honored to have an introductory lecture by Pr. Jack Fuchs, lecturer at Stanford, as the launch of their SF field trip. They were lucky to have thorough insights on entrepreneurship thanks to Pr. Fuchs' comprehensive entrepreneurial framework as well as tips to bring the best of the Silicon Valley and its innovation capacity around the world.
    Indeed, according to Pr. Fuchs, Silicon Valley is often too idealized and you can make it anywhere with the right set of tools. And what he deems necessary to identify and seize a good business opportunity are a burning need, the right timing and team, a big enough market with a scalable business model and a sustainable and differentiating positioning. He thus detailed the following points : you know there’s a burning need when you have people who are grateful for your product. You’re not just nice to have, you solve a burning problem. Then to evaluate if you have a big enough market and the potential fit, Fuchs recommends having a 1bn total addressable market and assessing the timing and team by understanding why it has never been done before and why now is the time, why these are the people and why this is the product. Concerning the business model, one dominant BM should be chosen and tested by going to market.
    Indeed, Pr. Fuchs emphasized the importance of testing for entrepreneurs as well as the ability to adress the needs of every stakeholder in the business.

    Is Silicon Valley really a special place?


    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option


    Prof. Paul Duguid, from Berkeley, questions the question of place in the case of Silicon Valley.


    During their visit of Berkeley’s campus, some of Option E students were given a lecture by Professor Paul Duguid, Adjunct Professor at the School of Information of the University of California. Prof. Duguid raised the following paradox: If technology has made location irrelevant then why do we still believe that you need to be in Silicon Valley to succeed? Introducing AnnaLee Saxenian’s Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (1994). In this book, the current Dean of Berkeley mentions that Silicon Valley overtook the Route 128 beltway (i.e. the Boston area, where Harvard University and MIT drove the high tech industry) notably thanks to its tradition of cooperative exchange and its decentralized organizational structure. This cultural advantage underlines the importance of social life in the entrepreneurial field.
    Prof. Duiguid then put into perspective the differences between the American and the European models on multiple levels, among which are techno-optimism (i.e. the belief that tech is all for the good and will solve any problem) and technocracy, as well as the vision of government and corporations and free speech.
    Overall, Paul Duguid shared an interesting and refreshing vision of Silicon Valley. In contrast to the idealized image we are too exposed to

    Lunch at Stanford with Pr. Chuck Eesley


    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option


    A thrilling lunch with an inspiring Professor in the heart of Stanford Campus

    On Wednesday the 16th, 14 students from the 3 different campuses had the privilege to have lunch with Professor Chuck Eesley, an Associate Professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Professor Eesley’s research mainly focuses on the role of the institutional and university environment in high-growth, technology entrepreneurship. He has received many distinctions as a professor, but also as a researcher: his work has been featured in outlets that are worldwide references such as Forbes, Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal. As well as being a professor and researcher, Chuck Eesley is also an entrepreneur: he founded his first company while studying for his bachelor at Duke University and he is now part of different boards.
    It was a unique privilege to be able to discuss topics such as IA , the future of education and of the Silicon Valley as well as some Stanford initiatives worldwide with with Pr. Easley at the impressive Stanford campus.
    His various experience and research findings enriched our points of view on these topics and allowed us to freely confront ideas. Over the course of this lunch, it became clear that collaboration between research, business and institutions has the power to reshape the world and address its most burning problems.

    French entrepreneurs in the Valley: testimonies


    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option


    Option E students were glad to meet 3 French entrepreneurs in the Valley.

    During their San Francisco field trip, Option E students from Paris, Berlin and Madrid discovered the various curricula of French entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley.
    Carlos Diaz showed how without a business background (he has a Master in Foreign Literature), he created several companies in the communication and advertising fields, before he co-launched The Refiners, a seed fund program based in San Francisco for foreign entrepreneurs to push their project at a global level.
    Frédéric Plais, ESCP Europe alumnus (‘97), has a diverse career history, having worked in big companies and in the startup environment and experienced both success and failure. After a stop at L’Oréal, the Internet crisis in 2000 caused one of his projects to fail. He then joined French telecommunications company SFR as Head of Music, Games and Premium content for 5 years. In 2007, he left big companies once and for all, created several digital companies since. He co-founded e-commerce platform Commerce Guy in 2010. He moved to San Francisco 3 years ago to develop cloud startup Platform.sh, created in 2014.
    Finally, Benjamin Antier, ESCP Europe Option E alumnus (‘14), offered an interesting testimony of a graduate coming for an internship in French video-sharing platform Dailymotion in San Francisco. He worked there for several years before launching Publica with former colleagues in 2016, a header bidding startup.

    Tech innovation and social thoughts in the Silicon Valley


    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option


    On Thursday, we had the privilege of meeting with ESCP Europe Option E alumnus Thomas Mazimann, Voxeet’s Growth Marketing Manager.


    Before embarking on his business career, he was a fan of sports and managed to become a ranked athlete in kayaking, in France. He took an indirect route into marketing, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering before finally transitioning into ESCP Europe’s Option E. In 2017, Thomas began helping Voxeet to become an undeniable giant in the industry of video and audio communication. Voxeet created a revolutionary technique that makes it much easier for people to hear each other during conference sessions. Convincing big companies to invest in the technology proved a challenge for Thomas Mazimann. “Conference technology sector is a tiny market … a very competitive market,” Mazimann says. “We had to find the strategy to sell this product.” After Voxeet was bought by Dolby, he began a short experience in Plato, which connects engineering and product managers with mentorship from experienced technical leaders. He now works as a Senior Growth Manager at SaaStr.
    Rui Zhang, now VP at Gumi, told us about his academic background in technology and his master's degree in management and finance. He learned a lot from his last 5-years experience in Gumi, mobile entertainment content publisher and developer based in Tokyo. Gumi has had a lot of success in Japan with both feature phone and smartphone games, and their flagship smartphone title Brave Frontier was a massive hit across the globe. We had the opportunity to discover how Gumi has created and used its internal incubator. Today, Rui Zhang is also head of Gumi Cryptos, the blockchain venture fund launched by Gumi, which is dedicated to investing in promising cryptocurrency and blockchain technology companies globally. It offers its portfolio companies a strategic venture capital investment partner with unique access to the Japan cryptocurrency market.
    Finally, we had the chance to meet an adventurous thinker, author, public speaker and entrepreneur. Frey, has built companies and communities in the Bay Area for 19 years, bringing people together around meaningful conversations about art, technology, religion, politics and philosophy. His attachment to dialogue, civil discussion and diversity was evident. He’s started businesses and served on the boards of a variety of organizations. For instance, he founded Good People Dinners, a Bay Area community that fosters substantive discussions, usually over food and drink. He was also a founding partner of The Bureau, a benefit corporation, advisory and startup accelerator operating at the intersection of blockchain technologies and ESG (environmental, social and governance) impact. You can see some of his words You can read-up on some of his ideas on? Medium of HBR.

    Visiting startups and companies: how to get in touch with the Silicon Valley ecosystem

    Fanny & Simon

    MiM programme - Entrepreneurship Option


    Option E students visited many startups and innovative companies while in the Valley. Here are some examples.


    In San Francisco, Option E students had the opportunity to visit and discover many Silicon Valley startups and companies.

    Some students visited the ride sharing company Lyft HQ in San Francisco. The company, founded in 2012 as Zimride, is now a 5,000 employee firm. In March it became the first ride-sharing company to IPO raising $2.34 billion. Philippe Mizrahi, product manager, spoke about Lyft’s vision of getting rid of the need to have a personal car. He xants tp develop different modes of transport, including in the micromobility field with shared bicycles and scooters. He also mentioned his working path at Lyft during his 18-month Graduate Program with three 6-month blocks (he spent the first block on the data platform and currently works on the shared-ride solution). Finally, he mentioned Lyft’s tests on autonomous vehicles, developing both hardware and software.

    Students also had the privilege to meet Michael Costigan (ESCP Europe alumnus ‘04) at Salesforce and visit Salesforce Tower. The company aims to help businesses in the 4th Industrial Revolution with a 360° vision. M. Costingan introduced us to the company’s business, culture and projections. He had a very inspirational analysis, especially on how to adapt to the digital transformation with 2 key axes : renovation and evolution. After very fulfilling exchanges, the students were lucky to climb to the last floor of the Salesforce Tower, the highest in San Francisco, and contemplate a stunning view.

  • Meeting Alumni

    Warm thank to Axel Amar

    Thomas et Simon ont pu échanger avec Axel Amar, directeur de stratégie chez Turo et alumnus ESCP Europe et Option E.


    As-tu réussi, pendant que vous portiez tous ces projets sur le semestre, à sortir la tête hors de l’eau pour comprendre ce qui faisait sens, ou bien as -tu eu une vision d’ensemble à la fin des cours ?

    Je pense que l’option E ne prépare pas à créer une boîte, mais elle impose un rythme. Parce qu’elle fait toucher à plusieurs choses, parce qu’elle ressemble aux fonctions multitâches du début, on prend goût aux projets entrepreneuriaux.

    Pour ma part, je me suis rendu compte que l'entrepreneuriat n’était pas fait pour moi, que ce n’était pas les tâches qui m’éclataient le plus. En revanche l’option E arrive à faire le tri pour ceux qui peuvent mener à bien de tels projets.

    C’est aussi l’occasion de situer son rôle dans une équipe, d’affiner son intérêt pour des sujets. On apprend quelles sont nos propres forces, nos propres envies, si notre profil est compatible avec une expérience entrepreneuriale. Cela ouvre nos yeux sur nos affinités opérationnelles.


    Le contenu des cours est-il peut-être plus orienté sur les tâches early-stage que sur la scalabilité opérationnelle ?

    Cela s’est retrouvé dans la faiblesse de certains pitchs. À mon sens, il existe deux types d’entrepreneuriat : celui qui se rémunère tout seul versus celui qui cherche à comprendre la taille du marché. Ce dernier doit s’intéresser rigoureusement au chemin à emprunter vers la profitabilité. Pour ceux qui se posent ces questions, il faut absolument y répondre dans vos pitchs ! Cette distinction est très importante et devrait à mon sens être davantage abordée pendant les cours.


    Pourquoi es-tu parti t’installer à San Francisco ?

    D’une part le marché français est assez immature : il y a très peu d’exits, c’est compliqué d’y faire fortune. D’autre part le marché américain est beaucoup plus gros, il est plus intéressant. Tout va plus vite : les salaires sont plus importants, les volumes sont plus importants. C’est l’excitation fascinante de l’écosystème entrepreneurial américain qui m’attirait.


    Quelle différence perçois-tu dans le rôle des entrepreneurs américains et des entrepreneurs européens ? Existe-t-il une différence d’ambition ?

    Je trouve que les valuations françaises, calculées par la BPI, sont beaucoup trop grandes, au regard du petit marché qu’est la France. Chez Turo, si on se lançait en France, on acterait que cela ne pourra pas être un levier de croissance avant trois ou quatre ans. A l’inverse, lorsqu’on veut s’internationaliser en étant français, l’intérêt est de générer de nouveaux leviers de croissance. Mais il est compliqué d’attaquer un marché national différent, preuve en est le faible nombre de success stories française à l’international.

    L’enjeu est de déterminer sa masse critique pour atteindre la profitabilité. Pourquoi foncer vers le marché européen si on peut faire assez de volume pour capter le marché français ? Tout dépend des coûts d’acquisition. Le problème est qu’il a trop peu de network effect à travers le marché européen. Par exemple Drivy.


    Existe-t-il un modèle européen de start-up, où le politique aurait un rôle à jouer, à l’instar de Macron qui ambitionne 25 licornes d’ici 2025 ?

    On attend moins de cet acteur politique aux États-Unis qu’en France. Le politique peut avoir un rôle à jouer : adapter sa fiscalité, faciliter le recrutement ou encore proposer des garanties sociales aux entrepreneurs qui se lance. Cet ADN de start-up différent, moins tech, plus naturel, davantage direct to consumers, peut générer des bénéfices qui font sens.


    Quels conseils peux-tu nous donner avant de terminer l’option E ?

    Il faut savoir si vous voulez monter votre boîte ou non. Si oui, pourquoi ?
    Si vous avez une bonne idée, une bonne équipe, ça vaut le coup d’essayer, d’y passer six mois dessus. Je vous conseille aussi de sortir de la France, de voir autre chose, il y a beaucoup à retirer d’une expérience internationale !

  • To learn more about the Jean-Batiste Say Institute

    The Jean-Baptiste Say Institute developped with EY and RCI Bank aims to train and support the tomorrow's entrepreneurs to be prepared to face the business transformations