The IÉSEG Incubator, a springboard for start-ups and entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is an essential part of the IÉSEG ecosystem and this is notably reflected through the existence of the Incubator on the Lille and Paris-La Défense campuses. The Incubator enables start-ups to launch with greater confidence. Every year, new entrepreneurs join the Incubator, which welcomes around twenty companies to its premises. Led by three people (Jacques Angot, the Director, Abraham Thomas on the Lille campus and Tiphaine Mayolle on the Paris-La Défense campus) and with six years of experience, the Incubator has so far helped more than a hundred companies to achieve entrepreneurial success through its three support programs.
The Incubator’s flagship program, named “START”, is aimed at entrepreneurs who already have a business model and wish to validate whether it truly meets the expectations of their target customers and thus can generate revenue. For a period of one year, START entrepreneurs are supported in their growth through the testing of their business model. To help them improve their skills, the Incubator provides them with workshops that can help them address specific issues (such as communications, marketing, legal, etc.). If the workshops are not sufficient, individual coaching sessions with experts in these fields are also made available to incubates. The dimension of entrepreneurial leadership is also explored through coaching sessions by the Incubator team around personal development. The Incubator acts as a guarantor of the success of the entrepreneurs by following their progress in a very methodical way and in close proximity, making sure that they optimize their year within the structure and that they meet their objectives. This critical year in the life of entrepreneurs allows them to answer various questions, such as: Is my project viable? Does my project really fit me? Can my project feed me tomorrow? Am I a true entrepreneurial leader?
In addition to the core program “START”, the Incubator also offers a “pre-incubation” program called “SPARK” for people who are still thinking about an idea and want to test it to see if it can become reality. The goal of this program is to verify if the idea is relevant and meets a market demand, and if a profitable business model can be built. A collective session with the community of entrepreneurs will allow for an outside look at the project. Then, if the project seems viable, the entrepreneur will be asked to prototype it.
Finally, the “SCALE” service hub is for entrepreneurs who have completed the “START” program for one year and have a working model, customers and revenues. This service hub aims to give them the opportunity to grow even more thanks to an “à la carte” service including an initial individual interview to define the real needs of each entrepreneur. Often, these young entrepreneurs are very interested in making contact and establishing relationships. This is where the Incubator and the IÉSEG ecosystem come into play (corporate relations, coaching, recruitment, etc.) .
An Incubator at the service of education
In the entrepreneurial ecosystem in France, there are three types of Incubators: the thematic one, focused on a particular sector of activity or technology (like Eurasanté or Plaine Images in Lille); the generalist one, which is a structure with large spaces to welcome a large number of entrepreneurs (like Station F in Paris) and finally, the integrated Incubator, like the one at IÉSEG, which is part of a company or a school and allows its ecosystem to innovate. Being located at the heart of the School, the IÉSEG Incubator adopts an educational and teaching logic to help each project progress at its own pace. It also shares the School’s social, human and solidarity values by helping entrepreneurs become “changemakers” who bring value to society.
“The objective of the Incubator is not to see unicorns emerge, but rather to enable entrepreneurs to make a living from their project, to create jobs and activity in the region, and thus to have a positive impact on it. More than the project itself, the Incubator is interested in the project owner. Indeed, we are looking for agile profiles who share the School’s values and know how to show empathy and solidarity with other members of the community,” explains Jacques Angot, director of the Incubator.