With a new president and a thriving startup ecosystem that will grow exponentially with the opening of Station F, the biggest startup campus in the world, it is a very exciting time to be a business leader in France. This was the focus of a live Twitter chat hosted by YPO that highlighted France’s economic growth and innovation. Participating in the one-hour, online Q&A were French business leaders David Layani, CEO of onepoint, and Eric Maumy, CEO of Verlingue. Both are YPO members based in Paris France.
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*Editor’s note: Some of the responses have been edited for clarity and were sent as multiple tweets so they do not reflect Twitter’s 140-character limit.
What can France do to reduce the unemployment rate?
Eric Maumy: Cost of labor and lack of flexibility are our two major issues. The unemployment compensation system is too generous. Flexibility is the key word: It could lead to 6-percent increase in job creation. Government is considering reducing social charges as of 1 January. Reforming the labor code is the priority of the government and they are working on it.
David Layani: The French economy is becoming more and more attractive. To release all the energies, let’s complete reforming. Entrepreneurship is the new France with risk-taking entrepreneurs willing to expand and hire. The new France needs growth and down scaling charges. This is the model we follow. New dynamic entrepreneurial environments are forthcoming. Horizontal flows issued from the heart of society. France is the biggest startup creator in Europe—we need know to help our companies grow.
How can innovation help drive job creation in France?
David Layani: Innovation generates new fields of expertise, new professions and jobs. Six out of 10 jobs of 2030 don’t even exist now. Innovation is an ongoing process continuously shaping the world in all our dealings. We should be expertise-driven not profession-focused, expanding capacity of all in continuing education and training.
FRANCE AS A STARTUP NATION
How can France ‘think and move like a startup’ like President Emmanuel Macron hopes?
Eric Maumy: Becoming a startup nation means embracing the future, i.e. accepting globalization as an opportunity. That’s a major challenge.
David Layani: A state with a startup attitude continuously responds in agile mode to new needs: efficient with a lean spirit. The new digital economy gives us more freedom but also more responsibilities about inclusion and equal opportunities. French citizens need to expand their own vigilance, awareness and empowerment: grow fast with an inclusive approach.
How can France create an environment supporting entrepreneurs?
Eric Maumy: France has a strong entrepreneurial tradition and a dynamic startup ecosystem, but we must send strong signals to entrepreneurs. Fostering a political and regulatory ecosystem that reduces barriers, rewarding innovation and protecting risk-taking should all contribute to stimulating an entrepreneurial spirit.
How can France create a more expansionary environment for business?
Eric Maumy: I want to first insist on the resilience of our businesses considering all the negative factors we’ve been facing for years. Creating an expansionary environment for business is rather easy if we consider where we are now. Key leverage factors are: tax reform, labor market reform, pension reform. Tax reform will encourage entrepreneurs to take more risk – taxation on capital is twice that of Germany.
- Reduced administrative burden and stabilized fiscal framework unleash calculated risk taking. Second chance after failure.
- Redefine training process.
- Stay attentive to digital world evolution and trends.
- Social inclusiveness as a requirement.
- As a French tradition, ensuring infrastructure excellence.
- High speed broadband available everywhere.
- Create a supportive environment: help by restoring confidence rather than dooming risk taking and denigrate failure.
What is your best advice for a first-time CEO or business leader?
Eric Maumy: The main risk for a CEO is not to take risks.
David Layani: To those who have started a business or dream to create one this country is yours—France is your new land or country. Take calculated risks, don’t be afraid to fail! Many have failed, many have been knocked down and have started again.