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What French startups got out of SXSW 2014

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A delegation of a dozen French startups was invited to take part in the new "French Tech Hub", the first official French presence at SXSW 2014. Examiner.com met some of them, who talked about their first SXSW interactive experience, in the "Mecca" of the technology industry. What did they get out of it, which business opportunities came through?

Whyd, a music aggregator, managed to meet potential partners at the festival. "We've been trying to meet with Spotify for a long time, here we met them at a party and had diner with them, that's how deals are made here," Gilles Poupardin, Whyd's co-founder, explained. "We can feel that everything is converging here," his co-founder Jie Meng-Gérard added, "the whole tech world is here".

Guillaume Jouannet of Evergig, a startup which allows the sharing of video clips taken during concerts, had a similar experience. "We went to Midem at Cannes. SXSW, it's the same but... multiplied by 10,000" he explained. "Deals are made very simply (...) the atmosphere here helps a lot, it's very relaxed". SXSW is indeed famous for its laid-back environment which notoriously helps with deal-making and networking.

Even when contracts are not signed on site, the opportunity to meet all kinds of people one could never approach in everyday life can make a big difference for a startup. "At SXSW, in two days I saw all of my partners, Evernote, Dropbox, Google, Box.." adds Grégory Lefort of Azendoo, a platform dedicated to task sharing and management, whose clients are mostly Americans. However, Grégory had to prepare for the festival very carefully. Azendoo also managed to engage in talks with heavyweights IBM and SAP during the event. "SXSW is a place where you need to be seen, but you need a lot of budget because everybody competes with marketing ideas here. It's tough to win over Americans at this game!" he adds.

Even with careful planning and scheduling, a lot of encounters are due to chance and serendipity. Bobler, a vocal social network, managed to demo its product to representatives of the New York Times and Nasa, explained co-founder Marc-Antoine Durand. "Just on my flight New York-Austin, I was sitting next to Spotify's creative director and a Techcrunch journalist", Arthur Dagard, Evergig's co-founder, adds. "This kind of atmosphere is inspiring and encouraging, it's different from any other web conference, with a very creative and festive touch", Pierre Dubuc, co-founder of OpenClassrooms, sums up. French startups, see you in 2015?

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