Gilles Babinet, entrepreneur and digital champion of the European Commission answers three questions to help startups applying to midemlab.
What qualities do you look for in a startup ?
My background with startuppers shows that is it not so much about the project and its quality than about the founders' qualities and skills. I have seen great projects go nowhere and average ones with great leaders become incredible successes over time.
Which startup has most impressed you of late and why?
In general I've been quite impressed by Criteo's take off. They just raised 30M€ and I thinkthis gonna be one of the most successful entrepreneurial projects in Europe over the decade. Criteo is a company that started with a poor project but with a great leader in place. They completely reengineered the project -- (from videos to advertisements --) over time, under the guidance of founder and CEO, Jean-Baptiste Rudelle.
In the music field, I don't see much innovation. I believe we had an excess of startups from 2006 / 2008 which siphoned the appetite of investors. Spotify remains interesting, as they are competing in the premiere league against Apple. I am eager to see how they interact in the coming years, especially when Apple launches its cloud offering.
What are the most common reasons why startups fail?
The most common mistake is thinking you can easily change customer behavior. Customers -- whether in B2B or in B2C -- go for the easy route. If you have a great product that's difficult to understand or activate, you're gonna learn this the hard way. Time is now customers' most precious resource; learning to manage their expectations is key.
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