STARTUP PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER ROMAIN REVEILLERE TAKES US ON A TOUR OF STATION F, HAVAS’ INCREDIBLE STARTUP INCUBATOR HOUSED IN A FORMER TRAIN STATION.
Havas’ Startup Accelerator at STATION F, the world’s largest startup campus, is going from strength to strength since its establishment in 2017. The incredible ecosystem is a melting pot for startups, offering them the environment they need to thrive, and the support from some of the world’s leading international brands. As the campus gets set to celebrate its third anniversary, Startup Partnerships Manager Romain Reveillere talks about Station F and all it has accomplished.
Station F is the biggest startup campus in the world. What was the goal behind establishing the Havas Startup Accelerator at Station F?
Back in 2016, we were working on new opportunities for the group to connect with startups. Havas and the agencies have always worked with startups, but we identified this brand-new ecosystem called Station F (an old 51,000 square meter train station in Paris, with a huge campus, gathering more than 30 international brands, +1000 startups, VCs and public administrations all dedicated to the startup ecosystem). We felt that it could be the right spot for Havas to be in this unique center of innovation and shape the AdTech/MarketingTech industry.
Why was it important for Havas to launch this program?
You have to be close to the people who will disrupt your ecosystem. It works for Havas and our clients. Launching this program has been a great opportunity to challenge the way we work, to find our next partners, and to advise our clients on the startup world. It’s clear you have to adapt your structure in terms of time, money, or people to work with startups. And this program allows us to better master those changes.
2020 will mark the program’s third year. How has it evolved since its beginning?
It’s been a journey. From an idea on paper at Havas HQ, we now have a structure in place and a team who scout startups from all industries, advise brands on their startup strategies, and initiates partnerships. Twenty startups have been part of the accelerator program (with more joining every six months) and more than ten of our agencies (from creative, media, and health) are actively involved. Now, our objectives are to fine tune the search process, allow the agencies to benefit from this ecosystem, and provide our clients with cutting-edge services and new opportunities.
Can you tell us about some of the startups who have taken part?
We have been working with startups developing different types of services: from data management to drive-to-store solutions, creative platforms, virtual reality, podcasts and customer acquisitions. We are looking for practical solutions. For example, Blinkl creates captivating AR experiences without an app and WeWard is a young startup providing retailers a new way of developing their business by financing your footsteps.
What opportunities has the program given to the startups involved?
Each selected startup part of the six to nine-month program receives opportunities based on three pillars: Consulting sessions with Havas’ experts, access to workshops, conferences and AdTech / MarketingTech events and a privileged relationship with Havas Group’s entities and clients. The accelerator is also a one-stop shop for all startups. The team is here to qualify and facilitate connections between the startups and the group in the hope of generating opportunities.
Global leaders like Amazon, L’Oréal, Facebook and Microsoft all have spaces within the campus. How does this benefit the program?
You have to be at Station F to really understand the uniqueness of this campus. There are more than 20 different industries represented, brands like Apple, Google, BNP, schools such as HEC Paris, and government administrations. As partners, we organize monthly workshops, meetings or events with brands and global speakers dedicated to a business topic. And it’s open for all startups. Imagine that one day you benefit from Microsoft expertise, the next day from LVMH expertise, and so on. And most of them are free.
What are some achievements of the Havas Startup Accelerator?
Starting a project from scratch is always a challenge, but this one has been exciting. The program is still growing but we have seen some great collaborations between startups, agencies and clients. One of the startups specializing in business intelligence, called 10h11, recently partnered with Havas Media to build their new data visualization tool, which understands consumer insights and impacts media recommendations. It’s a great example on how the accelerator can help startups collaborate with our organizations and connect with the right people. Our collaboration between Havas Events and AXA Prevention is another great example. At Station F, the agency managed a special ceremony to deliver the two millionth internet license with nearly 100 students in attendance, members of the government, and a startup forum with EdTech solutions selected by the accelerator. Those are two examples and we will keep bringing new collaborations for 2020!