Nine months ago Pierre, Geraldine and I decided to launch a new kind of startup program dedicated to foreign founders only. As international entrepreneurs ourselves, we knew how difficult it is for a foreigner to thrive in Silicon Valley. Moving to the Valley from abroad is a brutal process. Competition is fierce, network is key, money and preparation are essential, time-to-market is of the essence.
The challenge for foreign founders seems even more daunting when you realize you don’t know anything about Silicon Valley culture and codes. You don't know anybody, and nobody knows you here.
Yes, innovation is everywhere, and you can initiate a startup project from anywhere in the world. But Silicon Valley still remains the epicenter of technology. As a startup founder, you can’t afford not to be here if you want to have a global impact in the digital space.
Too many foreign startups envision Silicon Valley as their Step 2 (or 3, 4…). Doing so, they dramatically jeopardize their trajectory to success.
If with an idea and great technology you stay away from Silicon Valley for too long, here is what happens 99% of the time: there will already be someone executing the exact same idea with 10X more funding. Then you will have no other option but to go back to your homeland and will probably end up building what I like to call “Poneycorns.” Poneycorns are as promising and difficult to build as Unicorns, but they’re the size of a poney compared to their global replicas. Think Viadeo vs Linkedin, Dailymotion vs Youtube, Deezer vs Spotify… As Silicon Valley likes to say, Go Big or Go Home!
At The Refiners, we strongly believe champions of tomorrow are startups that are born global from day one — companies that will use the world as a whole as their playground.
Forget the days where you move internationally after succeeding in your own country. You must now think globally from the start and capitalize on the strengths of your cross border settlement. Silicon Valley provides a unique environment to propel a worldwide project quickly. At the same time, engineers in Silicon Valley are often scarce, expensive and rarely loyal. By adopting a cross-border model — i.e. by expanding in several locations at the same time — foreign startups benefit from a true competitive advantage. They can, for instance, keep their engineering abroad while raising awareness and funds in Silicon Valley and, more importantly, develop a global culture that will allow them to move internationally faster.
This is exactly what our entrepreneurs had in mind by joining The Refiners’ Fleet #1 program: immerse themselves in Silicon Valley culture, gain a foundation of knowledge and access to expertise, expand their vision and scale their startup globally by receiving funding, education, networking and mentorship. After announcing this program in Paris back in May 2016, we received more than 300 applications in just few weeks. For us, it was a clear validation of our initial vision. 78% of applications were French (because of our personal network), 18% were European, and the rest were international. 223 passed the first selection filter, and we ended up with 12 amazing projects. All of them landed September12th in San Francisco, and we are thrilled to introduce them to you today:
Adok turns any table into a giant tablet, to enhance interactions between multiple users.
Appaloosa helps mobile & digital teams build, test and deploy their apps privately.
A purpose-built solution to drive better engagement and coordination between community members.
Daylighted is changing the way you see art. By using new technology, Daylighted transforms places such as hotels and restaurants into digital art galleries.
DoubleOone offers unique musical experiences in emblematic locations worldwide.
Robots as a Service. The first fighting robots video game in real life.
All children deserve to learn in ways that make the most of their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. Lalilo makes that possible with AI.
A perfect tooth cleaning within few seconds. Forget about your tooth brush.
Sell Secure helps online merchants approve more orders, uncover new revenue streams, simplify fraud detection and dramatically improve bottom line profitability.
Businesses and hackers online crave your data; we don’t. Take back control of your privacy and protect your data by using Seald.
Unify all your bluetooth speakers. Amplify your music.
Witty Circle helps people with amazing projects to get more exposure, support & feedback.