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I am Joannes Vermorel, founder at Lokad. I am also an engineer from the Corps des Mines who initially graduated from the ENS.

I have been passionate about computer science, software matters and data mining for almost two decades. (RSS - ATOM)

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Tuesday
Apr212009

Startup Class '07 and '08 at Telecom ParisTech

In my previous post if been detailing 9 steps to make sure your startup exists. Inspired by an initial idea of Chris Exline, I decided to make a small survey of the startups admitted at the Incubator of Telecom ParisTech in 2007 and 2008 (startups are hosted 18 months by the incubator, and then kicked-out, that's the rule).

To figure out how well the startups of the incubator were doing, I came up with a simple score the startup websites.

Survival test for startup websites:

  • +2 if look & fell is GOOD.

  • +1 if look & fell is just OK (zero if horrid).

  • +2 if benefits of product or service is clear.

  • +1 if I must struggle to figure out the benefits.
    (zero if I am still clueless about benefits after struggling)

  • +1 if there is no happy talk

  • +1 if PageRank is greater than 3 for a B2B company.

  • +1 if PageRank is greater than 5 for a B2C company.

  • +1 if there is an English version.

  • +1 if people can buy or consume right away.

  • +1 if there are news.

  • +1 if there are forums.

The maximal score for this test is 10. One can argue that this test is very subjective. Frankly, after reviewing 50 companies, I rather think otherwise.

Any website with a decent, professional looking is ranked as GOOD with 2 points - no need for flashy graphics, decent is enough. In the other hand, if the website feels amateurish (colors messed-up, random layout) but still functional, then it's OK, you get 1 point. If the website is utterly broken in design or in navigation, then it's zero point.

Same for the benefits. If I can get a rough idea, in less than a minute, of the added-value of your company, then you get 2 points. I mean no need for detailed ideas, big picture is enough. If I have to struggle for 5 mins to finally guess what could be your added value, then it's 1 point. If after 5 mins, I am still utterly clueless, then it's zero point.

Concerning the PageRank, I am putting a much lower threshold for B2B website, because those folks typically need 100x times less customers than B2C companies to be profitable.

Not having a English version is like shooting yourself a bullet in your feet. The French market is small, so small, compared to USA+UK+Canada+India+Australia. To get 1 point here, you don't need to have translated everything in English, any portion that makes sense is enough.

In my opinion:

  • any 6 months old startup should get at least 6/10.

  • any 18 months old startup should get 9/10.

I have collected raw data for 52 startups within a Google Spreadsheet, and here are the results at present date 2009-04-21.

Disclaimer: I have a strong bias toward Lokad since it's my own company so it was removed from the study.

07 class

9 DisMoiOù
9 Lingueo
8 Connecthings
8 Helia
8 La Cartoonerie
8 LivePepper
8 Netineo
8 PREXENS
8 Teacheo
7 FrenchSet
6 Adminext
6 EtherTrust
6 InovaCours
6 Tellus
5 FamilyBy
5 Adipsys
5 Lixys
4 Needer
3 Connect and Go
3 Patent Organizer Software
3 Nexess
2 MobiNear
1 Alphacode
1 Système Polaire
0 Takys

Average score: 5.5
'08 Class

9 OOdesk
8 Accessif
8 Haploid
8 Hellocoton
8 PlayAdz
7 CapAngel
7 Jaxio
7 OhMyMode
6 Ecce Vino
6 Quelle Energie
6 Actimos
6 Kwaga
5 Ineovation
4 Eyes Triple Shut
4 Hedera Technology
4 Plugnsurf
3 Absysseo
3 Aquilant Technologies
3 Faveod
3 The Metrics Factory
2 FI Technologies
2 Media Mobility
2 nYouLinK
2 SeQureNet

Average score: 5.3

 
To be honest, those results look rather poor to me.

  • Two thirds of those startups don't offer any chance to their customer to buy or consume the product or service online.

  • Roughly one third of those startups are not able to express the benefits they could bring to their customers.

  • More than half of the startups can't get even a limited English version of their website.

Moreover, startups do not improve much over time. Considering 2007 vs 2008, if feel like if there were two categories of startups:

  • the ones that got a good website right from the start.

  • the ones that will never get a good one.

Yet, my own experience told me it's so obviously not true. Just have a look at the first version of the Lokad website and compare with the current one. Granted, I am still far from what Branding Geniuses could produce, but still.

I would be interested to see how other incubators are doing on their own.

Reader Comments (2)

Hey,

I almost entirely agree with your rankings, so I do not think it's a subjective exercise either...

There's definitely room for improvement in most cases

Julien

April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulien C

This is an excellent and quite original article Joannes ! I wonder what the results would be if you extrapolate the test to other start-ups incubated in other French ... or US (!) incubators ?

I should try to apply this the test to the start-ups at the Agoranov Paris incubator ! I will keep you posted.

All best,

Emmanuel

April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmmanuel
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