By @SimonCocking. Great follow up interview with Roxanne Varza director . member . ex & . cofounder & paris. See our previous interview with her from 2015 here.

How are you, has it it been since we last featured you?

I am great and the last 12 months have been incredible 🙂 I hired an amazing team for Station F that joined in May and we are now 14 people. For anyone who doesn’t know Station F, we are the world’s largest startup campus, backed by Xavier Niel and based in Paris, France. Our site will open in April 2017. We also recently made a few big announcements including our first members on campus and the launch of applications for startups that want to join our campus! And there is lots more to come!

Word is that your working on something new and exciting. What is it and what can we look forward to?

We have a LOT to look forward to. In April 2017 we will be opening our campus and we’ve already announced some of the first members, including Facebook, Vente Privée, investment funds like Daphni, Kima Ventures and Ventech, the incubator of business school HEC and a fablab run by US-brand TechShop. We will have lots more members to announce in 2017.

We also launched our startup applications so we are excited to pick our first startups early next year.

We also have a housing extension project to house 600 entrepreneurs that will launch in 2018 so there is *plenty* of great stuff yet to come!

StationF, how did the idea come about?

Xavier Niel is the man behind this project. A few years ago, he could see that the French ecosystem had many strong local players but that we lacked an emblematic project that made people from abroad want to stop and see what was going on here. London had Google Campus and Silicon Roundabout and the likes and Berlin had the Factory.

So Xavier decided to launch this big ambitious project – which is very in-line with other projects of his, like Kima Ventures and the Ecole 42 free coding school – to house and entire ecosystem under one roof.

What would be a good 2017 if everything comes off?

It’s hard to define it because anything I say would set the limit too low 🙂 I am thrilled to open our space with some of the best actors from the global startup ecosystem, I’m thrilled to house our first startups on site. But the project doesn’t stop there.

We are looking at creating a truly international ecosystem at Station F and providing truly valuable resources to startups. There are a lot of BS offers out there today for startups. We have spend months interviewing hundreds of startups and various actors from ecosystems around the world trying to find out what they want and what they use – and inversely what they don’t want and don’t use. We have cut out a lot of the fat with our Founders Program for early-stage startups. This is a program based on the notion that 90% of entrepreneurs’ problems can be solved by other entrepreneurs. So all the tools, resources, experts, etc. are all startup recommended and validated. Startups that are interested can apply to our program on stationf.co until February 5th.

How did Xavier Niel’s experience with 42 and his other ventures inform this idea?

Xavier is always working on something big and bold that challenges conventional models. With 42, he took tech education and really turned it on its head. But he also went further – the numbers he likes to work with are always super ambitious. With the 42 Paris program he is teaching 1000 people to code for free – and now more with the launch of their US initiative. With Kima Ventures, they are funding 100 startups per year. And now with Station F, we will be housing an entire ecosystem, including 1000 startups per year.

And for you also, what key lessons did your previous ventures help in developing this initiative?

Well I think a lot of what I have done in the startup ecosystem over the last however many years has helped a lot – but what has helped shape this project is really the input of the startups and the ecosystem. We have met with hundreds of startups to validate literally everything we are offering – down to the the space design. Everything is based off the feedback we received from startups.

For you what tips would you give to startups looking to succeed?

Oh that depends so much on each individual startup, it’s so hard to generalize ! But I would have to say that I usually look for 2 things : first, I really want to know why the person has decided to tackle the problem they have chosen. Do they have some kind of personal or professional connection to the problem at hand or are they chasing a business opportunity? And second, I like to see what the entrepreneur has already accomplished and at what rate. That will usually tell you something. If the entrepreneur has spent 4 years building an MVP and has few customers, that can tell you they are not a fast mover and may have difficulty adapting and building a competitive business. But again, a lot depends on industry because in biotech this may be very different…

Looking back is there anything you would do differently?

To be honest, no. I have had some periods that were easier than others – but I have learned so much during those times! So I cannot say I would change anything. But sometimes I wish we had more time to do things 🙂

How can people find out more about your latest project?

My latest project for the next few months to come will be Station F – I am focused on this the most right now. So they can check out all of our updates on Stationf.co – otherwise, people can always follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I tend to post more personal things on Instagram.

Anything else we should have asked / you’d like to add?

We are really hoping to create a connection between Station F and the Irish ecosystem and we would love to welcome any Irish entrepreneurs to our campus 🙂

Roxanne Varza, Startup Lover, TechCrunch, Microsoft, Girls in Tech, Top Tech Woman under 30!


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