Marc Simoncini
Ecole européenne des métiers de l'internet

3 French internet titans launch a European startup school

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In France, it seems January is always full of surprises. This time last year, new seed funds Kima Ventures and Jaina Capital were announcing their plans to fill a gaping void in the French investment landscape.  And now the same French internet titans (more or less) are announcing the launch of the Ecole Européenne des Métiers de l’Internet (EEMI), a European internet startup school set to kick-off in fall 2011.

The news first broke in Paris Match (not traditionally known for tech news, but hey) in December. The initiative comes from the founders of three of the most well known companies in France: Meetic (Marc Simoncini), Vente-Privée (Jacques-Antoine Granjon) and Iliad (Xavier Niel) – who knew they wanted to launch something together but not necessarily for profit (phew!). And their three profiles should work rather nicely together, given Niel’s technical background, Simoncini’s marketing strength and Granjon’s expertise in e-commerce. They’ve teamed up with Alain Malvoisin, who specializes in education, to launch this school dedicated entirely to training various types of internet professionals.

Starting in February, anyone post-Baccalauréat (more or less the equivalent of a high school diploma) will be able to apply and only 250-350 students will be accepted per year. The team is obviously looking to select only the best of the best applicants, who either demonstrate high motivation or some type of remarkable expertise. The location of the school and the annual tuition fee have not yet been officially revealed, although we can guess that the price tag will probably be in-line with other private schools in France (so roughly €5,000-€8,000 per year). And while the team is strictly French, their aim is to be pan-European; it is even possible that it grow into something similar to the model used by European Business School ESCP-EAP, where students have the possibility to move to a new ESCP-EAP campus in a new European city as part of their program.

Ultimately, the 3-year EEMI program is meant to get students more interested in various web-related careers – which should naturally help produce more entrepreneurs and train students to join startups. And while they’re definitely not aiming to compete with the likes of engineering schools, some have already pointed out that there may not be much difference between this initiative and other specialized schools in France that train students for world wide web careers. Oh, but then again, the other schools aren’t backed not backed by prestigious French internet gurus.

For now, EEMI has gained a lot of interest and many are wondering if it will have a similar positive effect on the local entrepreneurial community as the seed funds that were launched last year. Many (including myself) have often argued that the French educational system isn’t exactly entrepreneur-friendly (don’t get me started) and this may be one of the ways to help change that. Then again, it does seem kind of ashame that it is a private school and that students need to find several thousand euros to pay tuition every year. Ok, this probably seems like chump change to anyone who has paid tuition in the US and may also be quite a good deal if it turns out that Niel, Granjon and Simoncini actually teach these classes themselves (and eventually invest in the startups produced). It somewhat reminds me of the Founder Institute and if funding gets involved (not unthinkable considering that Niel, Granjon and Simoncini are all A-list business angels in France), one could maybe even compare it to Y Combinator…but I digress…

I guess before we jump the gun and talk about EEMI’s founders having the potential to rival Paul Graham across the Atlantic we should first get the good ol’ internet school a website.

Edit: The logo has been modified since the original publishing of this article.

  • Vera Prince

    Hi Roxanne, just to let you know that the blog is not the official blog of Vente-privé It’s an analitical blog about the private sales industry :)

    • Roxanne

      oh thanks, correcting.

  • Daniele Beccari

    This is an amazing initiative. There have been lots of whys and whats about the lack of successful innovative ventures in Europe compared to the US, with a couple of outcomes:

    1. the education system simply cannot educate for entrepreneurship, as far as none of the professors and researches managing universities and programs have been entrepreneurs themselves. The direct involvement of entrepreneurs as course teachers would be a good step forward.

    2. lack of exits due to lack of big European companies run by entrepreneurs who therefore don’t like/don’t respect/don’t value entrepreneurial behaviour compared to the classic corporate career they have followed themselves (not to mention 60-years old management making younger entrepreneurs richer than themselves – unthinkable).

    I think the approach taken with this new educational program helps shaking up things, and it’s great.

    • Guillaume

      Hi Daniele,

      I don’t think the US has a better education system than Europe to teach entrepreneurship.

      But based on experience, I remember at ESSEC business school in France that the most popular optional course to take was Entrepreneuriat by Philippe Hayat. ( The course was so popular that you really have to work your points allowance to be able to register successfully to the course.

      The other question I have though is: can we really teach entrepreneurship? You either have the gene or not (or the willingness to create something or not)

      Having said that, the idea of creating a specialized school for internet jobs is a great idea.

    • James27

      If it’s anything like what Kima Venture has done it’s going to be a ripoff. The Kima guys seem to value crook entrepreneurs over honest working ones. take it from me, I’ve experienced it first hand. That’s the difference between US and France. In the valley crooks are not valued, but Kima seems to like their entrepreneurs that way. So we’ll see what the outcome is.

  • Corinne Smith

    This is a great & an amazing initiative to help passionate startup to create meaningful and enduring companies in different markets. It nice in some ways as you get to meet CEOs of successful ventures, you also get to meet some VCs.

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  • Taylor

    Would be great if there was a political component to it to help relax the regulations that disincentivise entrepreneurs. Sophia Antipolis was meant to be the great French Cote de Silicon but I understood it crumbled for such reasons.

  • Eric

    It might be good to learn about internet type of careers but there’s no training to become an entrepreneur, ask Niel if he went to an entrepreneur school ? If you truly believe in entrepreneurship you won’t waste 3 years in a school. This is not because you go to arts school that you will become Picasso.

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  • Paul Ricard

    Very interesting… FYI, HEC Paris will gather those three titans starting from this spring with the new Certificate in Digital Innovation for Business:

    I guess that, even thought the time slot is much shorter, the intentions are pretty similar!

    Good luck to them for EEMI launch!

  • Carole WAI HAI

    Great initiative!! But like @Eric I wonder….why 3 years is it really necessary? entrepreneurship is mostly learn by facing the real market.

  • Carole WAI HAI

    Great initiative!! But like @Eric I wonder….why 3 years is it really necessary? entrepreneurship is mostly learn by facing the real market.

  • Kieran

    Why not just publish Internet Entrepreneurship For Dummies in French

    • samkiller

      Here they go with the french bashing again. I hope you know you’re talking about

      • Kieran

        :), Irish robbed of out place in World cup. Cant let it go even after spending thousands on counseling.

  • Anonymous

    If it went to a school of business? If you truly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit, you will not lose 3 years in a school. It’s not because you go to art school, you will be Picasso.

    Canadian Pharmacy

  • iyuro

    Well, that logo looks like this :

  • samkiller

    This is great. Xavier Niel has become a very powerful entrepreneur in France, unlike his pairs running those big French corporations, he’s willing to invest into young entrepreneurs and truly foster the startup mentality in France, whereas the government and frankly most of people only care about aging and mostly outdated industries. It’s a blast to have people like these.
    People always brag about the lack of talents and entrepreneurs in france.But the problem isn’t talent, especially in Technology because I come from french universities where I graduated in Computer Sc where you have geniuses and crazy code nerds. But most of us end up in IT services companies or go to the public research institutions. After experiencing both, I can tell you the problem is the system, where it’s pretty to afford taking any kind of risk, therefore people not thinking about launching new projects, because the french mentality do not tolerate failure. It’s time to start telling people that life is all about risks. And someone like X. Niel who happens to be a very disruptive thinker, and a risk addict is very suited for this.

  • Aamawar

    Nice Share Articel..
    I Like…

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  • Guest

    I love the new Palinism, “ashame”.

    Palinism: a new word worked into internet conversation as if it’s a real word. Like “Palinism”.

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