Startup Insight

Top Unicorn Startups in France

Apr 10, 2024 | By Startup Rise EU

Top Unicorn Startups in France


France, the largest nation in Western Europe, shares extensive borders with Germany and Belgium to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. With a population of 68 million, it ranks 4th regionally in Western Europe and ranks 8th globally. In the Global Innovation Index 2023, France holds the 11th position.

France's national investment and development plan, France 2030, is leading the drive for accelerated reindustrialization of the economy by emphasizing the pivotal role of industrial and deeptech start-ups. The French government has implemented several significant initiatives and policies to support the domestic start-up ecosystem.

One notable initiative is the French Tech Visa, a simplified and accessible visa program aimed at attracting global talent. This program offers various types of visas tailored for employees, founders, and investors, enabling eligible individuals to work and settle in France with renewable residence permits lasting up to four years. To date, the program has facilitated the recruitment of talent from abroad for over 1,200 companies in France.

The French government extends financial assistance to start-ups primarily through Bpifrance, the nation's public investment bank. Bpifrance offers a diverse range of funding options, including equity investment, loans, guarantees, and grants. Additionally, the bank provides support measures such as acceleration programs and international business missions to aid start-ups and scale-ups in their global expansion efforts.

In 2022, Bpifrance directly invested €726 million in 149 companies through its innovation capital, along with €854 million in indirect funding into venture funds. Furthermore, it allocated approximately €580 million in loans to over 1,500 companies through its seed loans schemes.

On December 28, 2023, the French Government enacted Decree No. 2023-1293, which made significant changes to the foreign investment screening regime. The decree permanently established controls on non-European investors acquiring over 10% of voting rights in listed French companies.

New sectors such as critical raw materials, photonics and low-carbon energy research and development, and prison security will now be subject to foreign investment scrutiny. These changes aim to protect national interests and security.

List of Top France Unicorn Startups

France's startup landscape shines brightest in Ecommerce & Retail, Marketing & Sales, and Software & Data sectors. Globally, France ranks among the top 10 startup ecosystems, boasting around 3,863 startups in 2023, including 30 Unicorn Startups.

Doctolib

Doctolib was founded in 2013 by Stanislas Niox-Chateau, Thomas Landais, Jessy Bernal, Ivan Schneider, and Steve Abou-Rjeily, Doctolib is based in Paris, France. Initially established as a scheduling platform, Doctolib has expanded its offerings to include telemedicine, messaging, and back-office operations management, transforming into a comprehensive solution for healthcare professionals, especially during the pandemic.

Back Market

Established in 2014 by Thibaud Hug de Larauze, Quentin Le Brouster, and Vianney Vaute, Back Market is based in Paris, France. Serving as an online platform, Back Market's mission is to popularize refurbished devices. The platform serves as a marketplace for vendors to sell their refurbished devices, ensuring quality through thorough vendor vetting and ongoing quality control measures.

ContentSquare

Established in 2008 by Jonathan Cherki, ContentSquare is the developer of a digital experience insights optimization platform. This platform assists businesses in comprehending user interactions by utilizing behavioral data, artificial intelligence, and big data. ContentSquare's platform provides automatic recommendations, measures content performance, discerns visitor intentions, and elucidates consumer decisions related to purchases. Ultimately, this empowers clients to enhance engagement and lower operational costs.

Qonto

Founded in 2017 by Alexandre Prot and Steve Anavi, Qonto is headquartered in Paris, France. Qonto offers a subscription-based internet-first banking solution tailored for SMEs and freelancers through partnerships. Their product modules encompass a range of services including business accounts and cards, wire transfers, POS payments, invoice management, expense and spend management, bulk transfers, bookkeeping and reporting, as well as accountant access and exports. Additionally, Qonto provides API connectivity for data retrieval and payment execution.

Sorare

Founded in 2018 by Nicolas Julia and Adrien Montfort, Sorare is based in Saint Mande, France. Sorare specializes in developing a blockchain-based online sports game and sports non-fungible tokens (NFTs) platform. Their platform facilitates the trading of official digital collectibles by allowing users to collect virtual player cards, trade them using real-life cryptocurrencies, and engage in fantasy football matches within the gaming arena. This enables users to purchase, sell, and participate in official football crypto goods.

Mirakl

Established in 2011 by Adrien Nussenbaum and Philippe Corrot, Mirakl is based in Paris, France. Mirakl specializes in developing a marketplace platform that seamlessly integrates with e-commerce technology ecosystems. Their platform prioritizes the identification and onboarding of new sellers, while its flexible APIs seamlessly integrate with various e-commerce website properties. This enables organizations to effectively manage the quality of product offerings and facilitate enhanced productivity, agility, and business expansion.

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Alan

Established in 2016 by Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve, Charles Gorintin, Hugo Caisse, and Maxime Bascon, Alan is based in Paris, France. Alan offers online digital insurance services with the aim of promoting a healthy and productive lifestyle, empowering both the body and mind. The company provides straightforward and effortless insurance coverage, streamlined reimbursement processes, and simple claim handling. Additionally, Alan grants users access to medical professionals through both in-person appointments and video calls, facilitating convenient medical advice and management of claims and reimbursements.

ManoMano

Founded in 2012 by Philippe de Chanville, Céline Vuillequez, and Christian Raisson, ManoMano is based in Paris, France. ManoMano operates an online marketplace aimed at providing a wide range of products to support gardening projects. Utilizing a data-driven approach, the company's marketplace offers do-it-yourself, home improvement, and gardening products. Customers can conveniently purchase these items online directly from their network of merchants at competitive prices.

PayFit

Established in 2015 by Firmin Zocchetto, Florian Fournier, and Ghislain de Fontenay, PayFit is based in London, United Kingdom. PayFit develops payroll software tailored to automate payroll and human resource management functions. Their software automates employee payroll processing, oversees social statements, and provides a flexible HR system for monitoring and managing various tasks such as working hours, onboarding processes, leaves, and expense reports. This platform allows businesses to efficiently manage their payroll and HR information online through a unified platform.

Voodoo

Established in 2013 by Alexandre Yazdi, Damien Dessagne, Arthur Swiniarski, and Laurent Ritter, Voodoo is based in Paris, France. Voodoo is a developer of mobile games and applications with a focus on entertaining and empowering individuals worldwide. The company specializes in creating and publishing mobile games designed for casual players, collaborating with external studios and content creators to produce hyper-casual games that entertain and bring people together.

BlaBlaCar

Founded in 2006 by Nicolas Brusson and Frederic Mazzella, BlaBlaCar is headquartered in Paris, France. BlaBlaCar operates a car-sharing website that connects drivers with available seats to paying passengers, helping to defray the costs of long-distance travel. The platform fosters a trust-based community by offering various features to facilitate connections between drivers and passengers. Users can search for rides between specific locations, view trending rides, and access pricing information. Upon booking a ride, users receive details about meeting points via an interactive map. Additionally, BlaBlaCar provides an automatic price calculator for suggesting a per-passenger price, which users can adjust as needed. The company expanded its services into intercity bus transportation by acquiring Ouibus, the bus division of SNCF.

Mistral AI

Established in 2023 by Arthur Mensch, Guillaume Lample, and Timothee Lacroix, Mistral AI is headquartered in Paris, France. Mistral AI specializes in developing generative AI models and creating an open-source alternative to current large language model platforms. The company provides text-based model applications for various purposes including art generation, content creation, chatbots and virtual assistants, language translation, and customer service.

Exotec

Exotec, established in 2015 by Romain Moulin and Renaud Heitz, is headquartered in Croix, France. Specializing in warehouse automation, Exotec offers robotic solutions. Their flagship product, Skypod, facilitates automated order picking within warehouses, streamlining operations. Catering to a diverse range of industries including food, e-commerce, retail, and logistics, Exotec's innovations revolutionize warehouse management..

Ankorstore

Founded in 2019 by Nicolas d'Audiffret, Nicolas Cohen, Pierre Louis Lacoste, and Mathieu Alengrin, Ankorstore is headquartered in Paris, France. It operates an online B2B marketplace aimed at connecting brands and retailers across Europe. Through its platform, the company enables trendy brands to distribute their products through local businesses, offering retailers access to unique items not typically available on major e-commerce platforms or large retail chains. Ankorstore simplifies the process for retailers to discover and select from a variety of brands with just a few clicks, while also providing brands with direct communication and returns options with retailers, as well as payment upon delivery, thereby addressing cash flow concerns.

Vestiaire Collective

Established in 2009 by Fanny Moizant, Sophie Hersan, Bérénice Mey, Sébastien Fabre, Alexandre Cognard, Christian Jorge, and Henrique Fernandes, Vestiaire Collective is based in Paris, France. The company specializes in a global resale marketplace platform tailored for buying, selling, and exchanging luxury and designer fashion items. Through its platform, Vestiaire Collective provides a diverse selection of curated and authenticated vintage and luxury clothing, jewelry, accessories, footwear, and more, offering users an exhilarating shopping journey.

IAD France

Founded in 2008 by Jade Benrejdal, Sébastien Caille, Jérôme Chabin, and Malik Benrejdal, iad International is based in Lieusaint, France. It operates as a digital real estate broker, catering to both individual and commercial clients. The company's advanced technology platform facilitates the entire transaction process, from acquiring mandates to execution, signing, and closure. This empowers buyers and sellers to receive guidance from independent real estate agents, offering an alternative approach to buying and selling residential properties.

Ledger

Established in 2015 by Nicolas Bacca, Thomas France, David Balland, Joël Pobeda, and Eric Larchevêque, Ledger is located in Paris, France. It specializes in cryptocurrency security technology aimed at simplifying the authorization of digital asset transactions. The company's offerings include hardware wallets, server appliances, and embedded technology tailored for connected objects. These technologies are built on a crypto-embedded operating system designed for secure elements and the orchestration of code and systems, providing financial institutions with cybersecurity services for digital assets.

Younited

Founded in 2009 by Geoffroy Guigou, Thomas Beylot, Charles Egly, and Lionel Beaudet, Younited is based in Paris, France. It operates an online peer-to-peer lending platform that facilitates financial transactions between individual lenders and borrowers. Through its online platform, the company enables transactions and loans without the involvement of traditional financial institutions. This allows customers to access loans and credit directly from individual lenders at more affordable interest rates, offering a hassle-free borrowing experience.

Spendesk

Established in 2015 by Rodolphe Ardant, Guilhem Bellion, Jordane Giuly, and Thibaud Elziere, Spendesk is situated in Paris, France. It specializes in an all-in-one expense management platform designed to simplify the administrative tasks associated with spending and financial management in the workplace. The company's platform enhances visibility and automation for finance teams by integrating spend approvals, virtual and physical employee cards, expense reimbursements, budgeting, and invoice management into a single solution. This allows businesses to streamline financial management processes, freeing up time for their employees to focus on their core responsibilities and excel in their work.

Pennylane

Founded in 2020 by Arthur Waller, Felix Blossier, Quentin de Metz, Tancrède Besnard, Edouard Mascré, Thierry Deo, and Alexandre Roquoplo, Pennylane is based in Cherbourg, France. It specializes in a digital accounting platform designed to centralize all financial and accounting data. The company's platform leverages a combination of people and technology to assist SME managers in various administrative tasks, including invoicing and collections, supplier payments, and accounting and cash flow management. This empowers startups to achieve efficient accounting and management outcomes.

Veepee

Established in 2001 by Jacques-Antoine Granjon and Ilan Benhaim, Veepee is based in Saint-Denis, France. It operates an internet retail site focused on offering online sales of fashion accessories. The company specializes in online flash sales exclusively for designer brands, accessible only to members, offering discounted prices to liquidate excess inventory. This allows customers to access a variety of clothing and related items from different brands in one convenient location.

Shift Technology

Founded in 2014 by David Durrleman, Shift Technology is situated in Paris, France. It provides AI-powered fraud detection and decision support solutions tailored for insurers. The company offers cloud-based end-to-end claim processing and filing solutions. Its platform extracts, analyzes, and verifies both structured and unstructured data to facilitate the decision-making process. Services include financial crime detection, claim fraud detection, underwriting risk detection, and other related offerings.

Verkor

Established in 2020 by Benoit Lemaignan, Christophe Mille, Philippe Chain, and Sylvain Paineau, Verkor is based in Grenoble, France. It specializes in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and large-scale stationary storage applications. The company focuses on the development of two types of battery cells: pouch cells and cylindrical cells.

Dental Monitoring

Founded in 2014 by Philippe Salah Ph.D, Thomas Pellissard, Armelle Coquart, and Emmanuel Salah, Dental Monitoring is based in Paris, France. It specializes in developing a remote dental monitoring platform aimed at empowering dental professionals with AI-powered solutions. The company's platform facilitates the creation of customized automated workflows, protocols, and patient messaging. It also analyzes the compatibility of treatments for individual patients using patented hardware, enabling patients to submit high-quality intraoral pictures at any time. This enhances practice efficiency and enables more precise care for a wide range of dental cases by virtually monitoring all types of treatments.

Aircall

Established in 2014 by Jonathan Anguelov and Pierre-Baptiste Béchu, Aircall is situated in Paris, France. Aircall provides users with the ability to instantly acquire local numbers in over 100 countries, all manageable from a single office. Its platform allows businesses to operate a virtual customer support team through its app. Notable features encompass call queuing, time and skill-based call routing, analytics and reporting, among others. The platform enables companies to oversee their agents via a Slack-like interface for team management and communication. Calls are routed over the internet, and integration with third-party software such as Salesforce, ZOHO, and Slack is facilitated through API. The app is accessible for both Android and iOS users, and Aircall operates on a subscription-based pricing model. Among its clients are Pipedrive, Expensify, and Hostmaker.

Lydia

Founded in 2013 by Cyril Chiche and Antoine Porte, Lydia is based in Paris, France. The company specializes in developing a peer-to-peer payments application aimed at enhancing payment efficiency. Its application serves as a social interface connecting phones with cards, allowing users to make payments to anyone through a single app. Users can allocate funds to specific purposes or sub-accounts, associate payment cards with one account and virtual cards with another. This enables customers to effortlessly make payments through a mobile wallet system, eliminating the need to carry checks or ATM cards.

Meero

Established in 2016 by Thomas Rebaud, Guillaume Lestrade, and Jeremy Teper, Meero operates out of Paris, France. It offers AI-based photo editing tools and operates a marketplace for photographers. The platform provides photographers with a photo editing tool powered by machine learning algorithms, allowing them to enhance images related to real estate, fashion, food, and lifestyle. Meero utilizes AI technology for image processing to achieve optimal results.

Swile

Established in 2016 by founder Loïc Soubeyrand, Swile is based in Montpellier, France. The company specializes in developing a mobile platform aimed at enhancing employee engagement and managing employee benefits. Its platform offers unified cards for various purposes such as meal vouchers, gift cards, mobility, and travel expenses, streamlining the entire employee payment process.

EcoVadis

Founded in 2007 by Pierre-François Thaler and Frédéric Trinel, EcoVadis is based in Paris, France. The company specializes in providing business sustainability ratings, intelligence, and collaborative performance improvement tools, with a focus on global supply chains. EcoVadis offers comprehensive and user-friendly corporate social responsibility ratings and scorecards, offering detailed insights into environmental, social, and ethical risk factors. This enables companies to measure and incentivize sustainability efforts, facilitating risk reduction in supply chains for both buyers and suppliers.

Ivalua

Founded in 2000 in Orsay by David Khuat-Duy, Ivalua is headquartered at 805 Veterans Boulevard, Redwood City. Ivalua specializes in providing cloud-based spend management software, offering a unified platform for managing all categories of spend and suppliers. This software aids in increasing profitability, improving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, reducing risk, and enhancing employee productivity. Serving a wide range of industries including aerospace and defense, automotive, construction and engineering, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, oil, gas and energy, public sector, retail, and telecommunications, Ivalua is based in Redwood City, California.

As per reported by (Chrunchbase, pitchbook, startupblink, dealroom, tracxn, cbinsights, businessfrance, zdnet, economic times, techcrunch, contrary, www.oecd-ilibrary.org, www.statista.com, eqvista.com, Failory, today.westlaw, research.hktdc.com)

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