Last week I was in the southern part of Paris, when Daniel Jarjoura who oversees the Startup42 accelerator took me through the EPITA Graduate School of Computer Science. As we’re walking through the school hallways, there are literally hundreds of soon-to-be programmers learning and practicing their trade at wooden tables and uncomfortable chairs in a five-story nondescript building. Later that night we sat down with six companies who are going through Daniel’s Startup42 accelerator. These entrepreneurs shared how they are currently building products and services for a French market that’s gaining more and more momentum in the technology field.
Two days later, I walked into the Numa co-working space in central Paris, also home to the Le Camping accelerator, for the European Accelerator Summit. Inside of this packed, bustling office were again hundreds of programmers coding away.
Then I thought to myself: This is France. I thought young people couldn’t find work? Isn’t this the place that’s known for its youth riots because there are not enough jobs for 20-somethings?
After speaking with various startups, one common theme being shared amongst these entrepreneurs was how technology is revolutionizing their country. The phrase “France’s modern technology revolution” may have been said about five times too many, but the takeaway is that because of technology, young people in France are working again. The co-working spaces are filled with young people not looking dejected, frustrated or bored but instead collaborating on marketing solutions, performing market/product validation and calling on new customers to grow their companies. What I saw was 20-somethings inciting change through hard work not protests and rage. Needless to say, I was impressed with the efforts France’s younger population is putting into growing their technology economy and can’t wait to see this revolution grow even more.