Britt Miller

Britt Miller

  • Wonolo

It goes without saying that Silicon Valley is a global innovation hub thanks to its ability to attract top startups, investors, and incubators, all of which produce an ecosystem that accelerates rapid growth. But did you know that France is also making inroads into the startup space? As part of this movement, there is one up-and-coming incubator, Orange Fab, which is making waves by adding a unique value proposition. The incubator, which is based out of Orange, a global telecommunications company headquartered in France, not only provides funding to startups internationally, but also connects them with executives at Orange and other global brands.

Orange_Paris.jpgOrange Fab incubators are currently spread across 8 countries, and Wonolo was fortunate to be selected to join its sixth cohort in San Francisco, following a competitive selection process. For the three months of the program, Orange Fab provided our team with valuable connections to executives who provided advice on improving our services, introduced us to potential investors and much more. As the capstone of the accelerator program, Wonolo and the other startups in our cohort were invited to France to share our work with executives at Orange in pursuit of business development opportunities.

During our week-long stint in Paris, I was fortunate to pitch Wonolo to the Innovation, Marketing and Technology group, Sofrecom, Orange Business Services, and a handful of other groups within Orange. Each of these groups has pain points that they aim to solve through technology. Our team is now in discussion regarding two potential pilots, a testament to Orange Fab’s ability to partner with startups that not only have potential to scale, but can also add value to Orange’s global business.

While in Paris, Wonolo also had a booth at a major new tech conference called Vivatech, which brought together over 5,000 startups, investors and large companies. Many of the startups in attendanceVivatech.jpg were French — and French President Francois Hollande made an appearance. While France may not be the first country you think of when it comes to innovation, it has a growing startup community, and one of the major differentiators between innovation in France and the U.S. is that large companies, such as Orange, are investing in startups, as opposed to primarily VCs or angel investors. You can learn more about this trend here. Of course, given our own company’s history of being born out of Coca-Cola, we can certainly appreciate this trend in the French startup community, and we’re excited to see how this is continuing to develop here in the U.S.!

Wonolo_in_Paris.jpgIt’s known that fueling innovation within a FORTUNE 500 is a unique challenge, and Orange is overcoming this hurdle by supporting the growth of startups whose missions coincide with Orange’s competencies and growth trajectory.

We’re so honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of this program. On that note, merci from Wonolo!