As anticipated in the previous article, today we move virtually to France to have a virtual coffee with a successful entrepreneur. The D.L. Rilancio (DL 19 / 05/2020, n.34) gave space to innovative start-ups, providing in art.38 the allocation of 10 million euros for the allocation of concessions aimed at the acquisition of services provided by incubators, accelerators, innovation hubs, business angels and other public or private entities operating for the development of innovative companies. In addition, further resources of € 200 million for the year 2020 are allocated to the venture capital support fund.
Innovative start-ups can be the real resource of a mature market, let us say, the breath of fresh air that can give new vitality to the environment in which the consolidated companies operate: they need to ride the wave of innovation within the market by using ever new products or services and meeting the needs of consumers and businesses. Furthermore, they constitute the indispensable link to connect the new technological development that works by a speed never recorded in the entire history of humanity, with all the companies that have increased their business through these innovations and allow the entire organization to progress with a view to inclusive and sustainable development. Finally, the biomedical sector and the sector’s advanced research need technologies capable of gathering energy and innovative solutions due to the strict need to give effective answers in a period of serious uncertainty.
Through Mr. Jean Vignon, co founder of UNIQORN, a rural start-up incubator, which operates internationally, we want to include a little more reality that we are experiencing and perhaps trying to seize unexpected opportunities in a scenario that today seems inhospitable.
RALIAN: Mr. Vignon. You are a Chief Financial Officer in a UNIQORN company. What does your company do and which are its objectives?
Mr. Vignon: Good morning, I am indeed co-founder and CFO at UNIQORN.
UNIQORN is the largest rural incubator-accelerator of its kind in the world. Located in southwestern France (Sarlat-la-Canéda), its mission is to give entrepreneurs and their families their lives back while helping them build game-changing technology startups. Startups with post proof of concept (POC) business ideas are provided with a complete ecosystem for success, with direct access to proven funding sources, top-notch legal and accounting representation, access to the world’s most generous business incentives and, most importantly, a dedicated sales and marketing accelerator that will put a startup’s product or service on the fast track to success.
R: Innovation is the very winner into a scenario like SARS COVID 19. Do you think innovation and creative sector will manage our future life more and more and how companies who have invest in innovation gained into this pandemic crise? Can you do us some examples?
V .: I would not say that innovation and creative sectors are the winners of this crisis.
Many entrepreneurs think that because they are innovating then they can become the next unicorn. And it is one of the main reason why “Many are called, but few are chosen”, and why most of start-ups fail to succeed.
With our Group CEO and founder, Dom Einhorn, we are firmly convinced that the most important for a start-up is not to innovate but that its products / services / solutions meet a recognized need.
This being said, there are indeed business areas which have a real chance of emerging; and some of them require some innovation of course.
We can mention as examples: home delivery services, remote work, legaltech, investment migration, epidemiological studies, activities related to prevention, transmission and control of infection, or any post-crisis global challenge.
R: What kind of companies do you think will survive after lockdown and, if you know it how many companies in France are in the severe risk of closing their activities?
V .: It is easier to speak about the companies which will suffer most.
The business travel industry, or tourism, for instance, will be severely disrupted and there is a risk that it might collapse entirely.
With regards to the business failures, they will increase by 25% at the global level. In france, the figure could be 15%.
One thing is for sure though and that is that companies which will survive will need excellent cash flow control.
R .: You invest in start ups. The risk of investing in start ups in this time is increasing. In this moment, what kind of companies may be more attractive and safe for returning of investment and for perspective of increasing gains?
V .: We have launched 4 projects since the COVID 19 crisis started.
Wait a little and you will know more.
R .: Which are 5 characteristics entrepeneurs must have for being reslilience in a post pandemic scenario.
V .: 1. Refuse to adopt a pessimistic and defeated attitude
2. Review its goals
3. Adapt to change
4. Secure the cash flow
5. Learn humility
R: You are an incubator and an accelerator of start ups. What do you think about a Special economic zone for permiting to companies to reduce their taxation, reducing burocracy and expand logistic infrastuctures to actract investors and safeguard the internal production boosting the exportations?
V.: It would be a very good thing if all parties involved, including the governements, play the game.
We thank Dr. Vignon for sharing his experience and observations with us. Certainly the pandemic we are experiencing will act a bit like a sickle for many start-ups in Italy and in the world but it can also be an extraordinary launching pad for those companies that will position themselves in those sectors capable of intercepting specific and new needs that require great preparation and dynamism. Without a doubt, training and investment in research and development are the success variables of an economic system so that, from now on, it will be necessary to modify strategic financial planning choices in an innovative – oriented perspective. A great challenge.
We’ll see you at the next virtual coffee back in Italy.
RALIAN Research & Consultancy srl.
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