Dubai: A community of French start-ups in Dubai has created ‘La French Tech’, for an associate everyone who works in or for a France start-up.
‘La French Tech’ means simply “French Tech.”
Idriss Al Rafai, CEO of Dubai-based delivery start-up Fetchr and one of the four ambassadors of French Tech, said in a telephone interview to Gulf News that the main idea is to promote entrepreneurs with a platform to connect to each other and promote international start-ups based in Dubai.
Al Rifai, who was born in Iraq and raised in France, is an entrepreneur passionate about e-commerce and logistics in emerging markets.
He said the French Tech initiative is not about the government imposing regulations and limits, it’s about the government supporting the start-up community.
Business France, a national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, the French Business Council and the French Embassy are the founders of French Tech in Dubai.
“It is a shared ambition, driven by the government, but built and carried out with all the players. It is an entrepreneurial ecosystem designed to accelerate the development of French start-ups looking to expand and reinforce the attractiveness of the French Tech internationally.
“French Tech hubs are accredited by the French government based on an application and supported by an already existent ecosystem to be reinforced and structured,” he said.
The French Tech initiative has a strong international presence via its 12 French Tech hubs — New York, Israel, Tokyo, San Francisco, Montreal, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Moscow, Barcelona, London, Abidjan, and Seoul.
This week, he said that 10 more new French Tech hubs got approval. They are Berlin, Dubai, Los Angeles, Milan, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taiwan and Vietnam.
There are many French tech companies operating in the UAE, such as Parrot (drones industry), Daxium (business mobile application to improve employees’ productivity), Carpool Arabia (the carpooling solution for urban commuters), Effilab (tailor-made Google Adwords strategy) and Iconiction (live drive-to-store and in-store digital marketing).
“Internationalisation is a major vehicle for growth for French Tech start-ups. We are also getting support from AstroLabs Dubai and Tecom Group,” he said.
Al Rafai said that the French Tech ecosystem is booming. More and more young entrepreneurs are launching their start-ups, total fund-raising doubled from 2014 to 2015, with several start-ups such as Criteo, DBV Technologies, and Cellectis launched IPOs.
Regarding fund-raising, he said that the ecosystem of funding is getting ready when compared to three to four years ago when it was very difficult to get started.
“Dubai has come a long way in terms for fund-raising. Dubai has the entrepreneurial energy where things happen and has the ability to attract the talent and entrepreneurs,” he said
As a tech start-up, he said that it is difficult to recruit and retain talent against tough competition and mature companies as the cost of living is increasing.
“Many of the tech start-ups in Dubai are outsourcing their operations or starting their new tech tenders in other countries across the GCC. Legal setting and fees are the key challenges facing start-ups in Dubai,” he said.