Philippe Batreau is the CEO of Epistrophe, a digital services company in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He is also one of the frontrunners of French Tech in the same country: an initiative that wings French IT start-ups overseas and provides them with knowledge, networks and support to help their business take off in foreign a market.
French Tech is an initiative by the French government aimed to support French start-up companies and the entrepreneurs that are their driving force. Its ambition is to establish France amongst the top countries producing ground-breaking start-ups. The initiative acknowledges the importance of start-ups in the creation of economic value and employment. Not only does it champion start-ups within France, its impact extends well into places around the globe where French start-ups are active, like in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
In 2010, Philippe Batreau brought his company, which he founded in Paris in 1999, to Ivory Coast. Epistrophe is a high-end digital services company that places a strong emphasis on customer service. Philippe: “Epistrophe supports companies with domain name registration, web hosting, Search Engine Optimisation, web marketing and other ICT-related services. In doing so, we pride ourselves on the exceptional customer service we offer. We accompany our clients in the digital world, speak understandable language, and provide tailor-made solutions for each individual client. While the French market for web services has long been saturated, this is the time to come on board in a market where a lot of construction has yet to be done.”
What is Philippe’s role at French Tech Abidjan? “We coach entrepreneurs who consider to move into the area or who have recently done so. We share the experience we gained working as entrepreneurs. From the perspective of an incoming entrepreneur, this is one of the crucial advantages of French Tech Abidjan: to learn from other people’s mistakes and get empowered to sustainably grow business in Ivory Coast. We also partner in events and organise activities relevant to start-ups in the area.”
A good example of a company that benefits from French Tech Abidjan is Izicab, a Paris-based start-up with a branch in Abidjan. The Izicab app allows users, whether for personal or business use, to request a personal driver in Abidjan and Paris. Izicab is the first platform for reservations of personal drivers in Abidjan and envisions a presence in all major African cities – a mission it could well use the support of French Tech for.
The aim of French Tech Abidjan is double-sided. With the help of French entrepreneurs who move their companies to Ivory Coast, the initiative wants to contribute to Africa’s digital development first, as well as support young African entrepreneurs who want to give a shot at becoming successful in France. It does so with a number of activities for start-ups in the area, ranging from workshops to networking events to forums tailored to companies in the digital space.
An established entrepreneur in the IT space in Ivory Coast, Philippe is an obvious partner in French Tech Abidjan. Together with other prominent entrepreneurs active in the area, Philippe oversees the implementation of French Tech in Abidjan and its start-up ecosystem. The initiative’s steering committee consists of a number of ambassadors who each make their own unique contribution to the rollout of French Tech in Abidjan.
“All in all”, says Philippe, “French Tech Abidjan is a hub that welcomes and assists French start-ups and digital companies wanting to move into Ivory Coast. The initiative works with the local ecosystem, and helps promising Ivoirian entrepreneurs to make their way to Paris.”