The time to build your startup is right now

Roxanne Varza, Director at Station F, one of the largest global accelerators hosting 1000 startups on how founders can benefit from a crisis and use it to their advantage

Our podcast guest this week is one of the leading voices of the French startup ecosystem : Roxanne Varza, the Director of Station F, one of the largest startup campuses in the world that opened its doors in 2017 and is located in the heart of Paris. Over 1000 startups are currently at home at Station F.  In this week's show she provided an insight into how she sees the current startup situation and why a crisis always presents new opportunities for entrepreneurs and what areas especially could unfold a lot of potential moving forward.

According to Roxanne the crisis also brought startups to think more about their impact and unlocked the desire to create something that will solve real problems. Working closely with many startups at different stages she experienced first hand the impacts of the pandemic on the entrepreneurs. That way she also discovered that many early stage startups could adapt much better to the shifting situation as they are not revenue dependent yet and more flexible.

Station F combines all aspects of the entrepreneurship world and offers founders partnerships, mentorship programs, VC funds, networking events and even housing units to provide a starting point and growth opportunities. Before Roxanne Varza got involved with the plans for Station F in 2013 she was an editor for TechCrunch France and later worked for Microsofts’ startup programmes. She is currently an adviser to the European Commission’s European Innovation Council as well.

And with a very diverse background in the startup scene she has many learnings to share with entrepreneurs: From 1) how founders can turn around their products during a crisis to serve the current need of a society and 2) how to surround yourself with a team that will help you grow and come up with innovative ideas to 3) the importance of constantly learning and discovering new ecosystems and gaining therefore new perspectives for founders.

Being fearless and adapting quickly to changing circumstances is a key element for founders who are facing the uncertainty of a crisis. Fear was also an obstacle that Roxanne Varza had to overcome herself recently as she started to invest in startups and founders herself and figuring out what she is looking for in entrepreneurs: “I have to feel like I can make a contribution” she told our Bits & Pretzels Editor-In-Chief Britta Weddeling.

03:07: “A crisis creates incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs”  
06:40: Do you have what it takes to thrive during a crisis?    
08:17: What changes and habits are here to stay after the pandemic?  
13:17: How founders are rethinking their values towards a positive impact  
16:54: The idea behind Station F and how it put France on the startup map 
22:09: Beer Garden Break: “It’s an incredible time for innovation” 
24:07: How Roxanne started her journey that led her to Station F and the tech world
28:10: “Going and discovering a new ecosystem can really differentiate your profile” 
37:04: Tool Box: “Being able to surround themselves with excellent people” 
39:31: Either-or-game: “It’s very important to have a sense of one’s direction” 

Production: Regina Körner, Migo Fecke (professional-podcast.com); Dina Zhakupova