French Ambassador

French Ambassador Hosts StartupYard Mentors

Last week, the StartupYard team, our 2016 startups, and over 70 of our mentors were honored by a special gala dinner, hosted by the French Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian.

The event which included several speakers, a dinner and a reception, and was sponsored by Komercni Banka, Mazars, and Roland Berger, Cedric Voight of Ballou PR gave the keynote remarks. Voight spoke about the importance of storytelling for both startups and corporations, and on the need for corporations to foster innovation in their own regions. Ballou PR is a major PR firm based in Europe, founded by Colette Ballou, with current and former clients such as Facebook, Ebay, Pinterest, and Waze.

Among the speakers were also StartupYard mentors Philip Staehelin, Managing Partner of Roland Berger in Prague, Albert Le Dirac’h, Chairman of KB Bank, and Carlos Meza, representing Mazars.

This event was planned in cooperation with our partners as a thanks to our incredibly dedicated and helpful group of mentors, over 70 in all, who took part in mentoring our 2016 cohort of 9 startups.

All photos are courtesy of the French Embassy, Prague. 

France and The Czech Republic

A clear theme of the evening, given the speakers and venue, was furthering cooperation and knowledge transfer between France and the Czech Republic. StartupYard Managing Director Cedric Maloux, and Ambassador Asvazadourian spoke about the lessons that the Czech government and tech community could take from France’s experience, including greater tax advantages for technology startups, startup visas for entrepreneurs, more public funds for innovation, and greater corporate interest in funding new ideas.

Maloux also spoke about the need among corporations and governments, for touchpoints with the startup ecosystems in their respective countries, and abroad. He laid out his view of StartupYard, and other seed stage accelerators, as key points of interaction between older business and government institutions, and a new generation of entrepreneurs and technologists.

Philip Staehelin of Roland Berger spoke about his passion for bringing corporations and banks into closer cooperation with startups, and learning to adopt startup-inspired processes and entrepreneurial thinking within their own organizations.

Mr. Le Dirach, who has worked in banking for over 3 decades with Societe Generale, and now as the Chairman of KB, spoke about the need for smarter regulation of e-commerce, fintech, and information security. He also touched on KB’s efforts to open its doors to innovative startups, highlighting the need for corporate and banking executives to “get out of the office, and talk to real people outside our organizations.”

The French Embassy

The Ambassador also highlighted the role of the French Embassy as an organization with multiple missions. On one level, it promotes French business interests abroad, and on another, it seeks to promote mutually beneficial exchange of ideas between the two countries.

Ambassador Asvazadourian also pointed out the contrast inherent in the venue- the 18th century Buquoy Palace, with the topic at hand. He spoke about the need for older institutions, including those present, as well as the governments of both countries, to adapt and learn from startups, and new conceptions of working, and living.