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Make your move this Bastille Day

Segolene Roche

14 Jul 2021

Over the past few years, La French Tech has grown to become one of Europe’s most vibrant tech scenes, led by the likes of BlablaCar (valued $1.6bn), and Vestiaire Collective ($1bn). Since the start of the year, we’ve already seen new unicorns enter the scene, including data analytics specialist Contentsquare ($2.8bn), crypto security expert Ledger ($1.5bn), ecommerce platform Mirakl ($1.5bn), or insuretechs Alan ($1.4bn) and Shift Technologies ($1bn).

Despite these high valuations, many French scale-ups fail to become international. More often than not, this is due to communications failing to help companies make their move.

This Bastille Day is a perfect time to reflect on the reasons that French tech businesses too often fail to reach their full international potential, and how to create a brand that stays top-of-mind when going international.

Have a clear growth strategy

Since his election, President Macron has been vocal about his ambitions to turn France into a start-up nation. And while the country now provides extensive support for start-ups and scale ups, including a fantastic accelerator at Station F in Paris, high growth companies often elect to move abroad to reach investors and go international.

In the post-COVID era, location is no longer as critical to meet investors, partners, and customers. Instead, companies should ensure they have a clear growth strategy in place, which answers questions such as:

  • What does success look like?
  • What problem are we solving?
  • Who do we want to reach?
  • How do we scale our operations?
  • How do we communicate about our growth?

As companies get bigger and their audiences become more varied, this growth strategy needs to be supported by a clear, high impact communications plan that answers the same questions. From then on, they can tackle their biggest challenge: defining their story.

Tell a great story

All companies that succeed have one thing in common: they have a great story. Whether it’s a complete U-turn before bankruptcy, a wish come true, a David vs Goliath tale, tech for good, or labour of love, it all starts with a story.

Telling a good story requires craftsmanship. This craftsmanship needs to adapt over time to suit new audience needs and support the company’s growing sphere of influence. Creating the initial story can be a complex exercise, which can make companies less likely to want to tinker with it to suit new, international audiences. After all, on ne change pas une formule qui gagne, right? No, but we can – and should – adjust it to ensure the company’s messaging resonates with local audiences.

Act local, think global

The phrase may be a few years old but the COVID pandemic has made it more relevant than ever. Over the past 12 months, communities have come together to support people in their time of need. Companies should capitalise on this newfound sense of community to devise authentic communications that adjust to the local priorities of the audiences they’re targeting – and ensure their communications are backed by strong action.

Design giant Dassault Systèmes embodies this perfectly. The company has long been a proponent of business sustainability and is one of the most influential French headquartered tech companies in the world. So much so, it was singled out as an EU tech giant by Reuters, following president Macron’s announcement that the EU would aim to grow 10 tech giants by 2030.

Through its extensive accelerator programme, the company supports sustainability-minded start-ups all over the world. From cleaning the ocean in West Africa to designing tailored prosthetics in India or portable EV chargers in the US, it is using its own influence as a sustainable company to help local communities tackle the impact of climate change in meaningful ways.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Brand awareness is critical at every stage of a company’s growth – and should be treated as a strategic priority. Whether the company is coming out of stealth, launching a new product line, entering a new market or industry, or looking to communicate about new corporate commitments such as DE&I or the climate, it won’t be noticed unless it communicates.

And this requires more than a strong plan. It needs strong execution too. From identifying the right strategy to creating compelling content that will resonate with local, regional, or global audiences and rolling it out across the right channels – from traditional media to influencers, paid social or via stunts – companies need the right partner to support them on their journey.

If France wants to become a true tech leader and compete on the global scene, it needs more than great ideas. It needs to communicate these ideas to the right people, on the right channels and at the right time. This is how you make your move. A vous de jouer.