She keeps on running, Alice Zagury, to transform her utopia – allowing a whole generation to find freedom through entrepreneurship – into a business, and if possible into a business which is viable, recognised, and sustainable.
Her studies at EMLYON left her a little disoriented. « I was hungry for freedom and originality. » She joined the School’s Arts Association, spent six months in Miami in a start up, and another six months in a University in India. « Ultimately, the common element for all of us was the Internet culture. »
When she got back to France, she refused the conventional paths. Was she too uncompromising, too straightforward? « I am definitely not cut out for wearing a badge, respecting constraints or codes which stop you from being yourself. »
She chose to go and work for a group of young artists. « I saw how the digital world can generate a creative upsurge, in a world in crisis where it is difficult to find a job. »
The digital world will impact every level of society by giving back the power to players in the economy. We have never seen so many young people going around the world, so many start-ups, and so many experiences of sharing, as we have since Facebook has existed. The idea of freedom is at the heart of this movement.
She took various steps which lead her to Silicon Sentier (now called ‘’Numa’’), an association bringing together the digital ecosystem of the Paris area. She was in charge of creating an incubation space for artists and engineers. It took her a little while to actually understand the environment, the vocabulary, and the community of start-ups, but very quickly she became passionately interested in new models born out of the digital revolution. « I fell in love with this entrepreneurial culture which creates added value from mutual support and sharing. And the state of mind of hackers and makers, who circulate open source solutions which improve the lives of thousands of people. »
In 2009 a new incubator was created in the ex-premises of the Paris Stock Exchange: le Camping. And before the project was set up, Alice Zagury set off for a European expedition, to meet up with all sorts of support structures, and told the whole story in a blog. She came back a convert to these practices which encourage continuous innovation.
She ran le Camping for two years, but ended up aware of the limits of structures which are financed by public authorities. « There is something a little suffocating in this system where the State is all too present, and the mentors too often out of touch with Silicon Valley culture. »
Alice Zagury left le Camping in 2012 and imagined a private ‘’radical’’ system, with Oussama Ammar, serial entrepreneur and programmer, and Nicolas Colin, a Senior Civil Servant and … creator of start-ups.
Together they designed the basis for TheFamily: supporting innovation in France via large-scale education, making entrepreneurial know-how accessible for all those who can never go to business school, accelerating high potential projects… « Our objective was to support at least 100 companies in order to impact ecosystems through their success. »
In two years, TheFamily has supported 270 projects, created the training courses in entrepreneurship ‘’Koudetat’’, followed by over 1,000 people; helped over 500 entrepreneurs on their acceleration programmes, run over 30 seminars ‘’Barbares Attaquent’’ (barbarian attack) aimed at directing boards, organised three international events on digital disruption, and convinced 60 private investors and 3 international funds. She receives 100 applications per week and is now targeting ‘’Dark Matter ‘’, those people whom she can help discover that they can be entrepreneurs.
Alice Zagury runs TheFamily team in an empirical and passionate way. « Management is key, to capture the correct rhythm, keep energy going, bring the vision and values to life on a daily basis. We even have a ‘’Chief Happiness Officer’’, who takes care of us all. » And, apart from that, she keeps on running, and when she isn’t running, well then she sleeps!
EM Lyon: Programme Grande Ecole 2009 / MSc in Management Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC Date de parution : 01/06/15