Why family offices interested in startups should visit this place

Inside the huge 34,000 square meters of Station F in Paris              Photo: Station F
Inside the huge 34,000 square meters of Station F in Paris              Photo: Station F

Station F, a former train station in south-east Paris, claims to be the biggest concentration of startups under one roof in the world. And it’s probably a place of family offices interested in startup investing should visit.

It’s the brainchild of Xavier Niel, a French tech billionaire best known for setting up mobile company, Iliad. Station F comprises 34,000 square meters and is designed to hold up to 1,000 startups. And not any old startup, but only ones that have passed a rigorous vetting process. So far, 500 startups have set up in the sprawling space in Paris’ 13 arrondissement, which opened its doors officially at the end of June.

Other investors in the huge space include a new French VC fund called Daphni, which was co-founded by a seasoned VC-backer called Marie Ekeland. Ekeland backed, the highly successful US-based digital marketing group. And the big American VC group, Accel, is also a backer. Also, Facebook has launched its first official incubator initiative in Station F.

Station F wants to attract startups from around the world and reckons that Paris is an attractive location for them. Here’s what Roxanne Varza, director of Station F, said in an interview with Wired: “We’ve actually had a lot of startups contact us telling us that Brexit, Donald Trump and high Silicon Valley prices are what encouraged them to look at Paris and Station F. That said, there isn’t a specific strategy to attract startups as a result of Brexit, Donald Trump or whathaveyou. We simply want great entrepreneurs from around the world to come to our campus because they want to.”

With some serious backers behind Station F, Family Capital reckons there might be some good investment prospects for the more risk-taking family offices. At the very least, the ability to access so many startups under one roof should present an interesting prospect for startup investors.