The next 3 Day Startup (3DS) Paris will be about collaborative consumption and the sharing economy. This event, which will be held at ESCP Europe (the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, a French Business School), could foster the movement in France and Europe. To my knowledge, it is the first entrepreneurship event fully dedicated to building collaborative consumption startups in the world.
I wanted to know more about their approach and François-Xavier Fuhrmann (the event's organizer) answered some of my questions.
Antonin Léonard: Why did you choose the 3 Day Startup (3DS) format? What’s the difference between it and a Startup Weekend (Startup WE) event?
François-Xavier Fuhrmann: The 3 Day Startup is an American event, from Austin, Texas, which aims at promoting entrepreneurship to students. What makes the 3DS different is the selection of the participants before the event. The aim of this selection is to gather complementary participants in terms of profiles – technical, business, design, people who don’t have special skills but innovative ideas – so that we can maximize their chance of success. Startup WE is a great event, but the teams created during the WE are not always balanced or built to be successful in the long term. And it is well known that the founding team of a startup is fundamental in its chance of success in the future.
The 3 Day Startup emphasizes also guidance and support before and after the WE:
Before the WE, we organize workshops to broach issues related to entrepreneurs – like “How to Make a Good Pitch” – or specific to the sharing economy.
We also want to build deep relationships between Mentors and Entrepreneurs. Mentors (mostly successful entrepreneurs in the sharing economy) will attend the event and agreed to keep advising the startups after the event.
The 3DS also tries to democratize entrepreneurship within the student population, wherever they come from, in terms of background: engineer, business, law, design… That’s why we focus on recruiting students or those just graduated.
Finally, the 3DS will focus on a specific theme: Collaborative Consumption.
Why did you choose this theme?
3DS events usually don’t have a theme. Having a theme enables us to entrench the event as a shape, a state of mind. As a consequence, it creates a better environment for the participants who share a common concern: to build sharing startups.
Collaborative consumption offers the advantage of being specific, but also broad enough. The projects which fit the theme are wide, as they can be exchange of goods, barter, skill sharing, coworking spaces, crowdfunding, Open Data, or free money. This, then, allows us to give a genuine identity to the 3DS Paris, while keeping the original spirit of open-mindedness.
How did you discover the sharing economy?
Nathan Grass, head of the entrepreneurship program at ESCP Europe, introduced us to the concept of collaborative consumption during a discussion. We then discovered Rachel Botsman’s speech at TedX. In our opinion, this theme fits the vision of the entrepreneur: someone who wants to shake things and bring a meaningful contribution to society by improving people’s lives
In your opinion, why is this sector appealing to web entrepreneurs?
To borrow from Rachel Botsman, the development of this new economy is based on four pillars: technology, the renewal of communities, environmental concerns, and the economic crisis. The web is in this shift as a vector, a means which enables us to create new services or products. ZipCar, for instance, seems simple at first glance, but it is the technology behind it that makes it simple. The Internet is also a key element in building trust among strangers who make collaborative consumption platforms successful.
Do you see collaborative consumption as a business opportunity, a social innovation, a shift toward more sustainability?
Above all, it is a major shift; and it’s just the beginning. If the way consumption and production are organized changes, as they seem to be, that means we’ll experience deep changes in the society. Collaborative consumption is an opportunity for both society and business.
Hyperconsumption guided the 20th century. It has enhanced individualism. Ownership has become a goal in itself. The environmental fallouts of such an economy are disastrous. And it’s based on a terrible cycle of “produce, consume, destroy.”
That being said, the question is: What is the most efficient way to tackle these issues?
We think entrepreneurship – i.e. building an enterprise – is the best means to change things. Social enterprise is an illustration of this; collaborative consumption might be another one. Gen Y entrepreneurs seem to have this drive toward improving (even only a little) society. That’s probably a reason why they feel so excited about collaborative consumption.
The sharing economy uses innovation and business to build socially innovative systems having a positive impact on sustainability. We need to take up this challenge and it begins now. It is exciting.
What are the objectives of this 3DS?
1) Allow people who have innovative ideas on the sharing economy to find associates and even investors
2) Build a 48-hour-long intensive work bubble for students and give them the opportunity to meet great mentors
3) Develop an entrepreneurial culture within students and trigger a brain wave on entrepreneurship
What kind of profiles are you aiming at?
First of all, we are looking for students who are passionate about entrepreneurship and collaborative consumption. More than skills, we want participants that have a real interest in the 3DS philosophy. We also want very different profiles and very diverse teams.
Sociologists, demographers, historians, lawyers, sailors, bakers, designers, accountants, fire fighters, and philosophers… we hope to meet many different profiles! The key is to be motivated to engage in long-term projects to create a startup, have some valuable skills to bring to a group, and be driven by an innovative project!