How Two Young French Students Entered the London Start-up Scene

Salomé and I met mid 2015 in London through a friend. She moved from Paris to London a few years back to study Marketing Communications. I myself studied Corporate Finance in France. Salomé was often organising events for her friends and family back in France. I played tracks for a couple of years in some clubs to make money as a student. Combining both our experiences we decided to take the step.

Raphael and Salome - Hiroes Founders

Let’s have the crazy challenge to oversimplify the organisation of an event. From A to Z.

The journey, kicked off

The original (mission) statement was: Organising an event is complicated because you first need to find a place and second the right service providers (musicians, DJ maybe, cook, photographers, etc.) that match your budget.

Getting started ins a perilous journey. First problem: Hiring. Obviously, you don’t want to hire guys that will just “do the job”. You want passionate artists that will truly want to make your event a success. The second problem: We also need some testimonials. I think that one smart move would be, for instance, being able to rely on verified comments from past clients.

In our journey, we learned that – let’s be honest here – organising an event is a mess. You waste time coordinating all the service providers, you struggle with all these paper quotes you have to pay and you don’t know where you are anymore.

We knew we needed to find a way to simplify the communication and the payment between event organisers and artists. The objective is now clear: We want to disrupt the event-planning industry.

The journey, part 2: London

One of the first question that came up when we decided to take this project seriously was: do we want to launch it in Paris, city of lights and love, or London, city of rain and umbrellas? Well, it appeared that we actually love umbrellas and we really are rain addicts, easy pick.

Seriously speaking, it was a real tough decision as both of us did have wide networks in Paris through family and friends, whereas in London, we had a much tighter circle. The two final reasons that got us to choose London as a first city was the feeling that things move faster in London, known as the first start-up hub in Europe. Also it was a real challenge for both of us to launch a company in a country that is not ours.

One thing that really helped us getting a first feet in the London start-up scene was to get into an incubator programme. It was a great way to meet influencers, entrepreneurs and build strong ties with them. It was also a good way to stay updated on what’s hot in the London start-up scene. By hot I mean having access to cool meet-ups, and great events. Co-working places and incubators organise a lot of events and for us it was the best way to meet people.

Networking is crucial when you start a project and you have to cultivate it. So our advice is to go to entrepreneur meet-ups, talk about what you do, spread the word that … you’re there!

Startup competition in progress
photo credit: Steven Zwerink / Flickr

A note on making the most of the incubator programme

Being incubated is a great thing if you want to kick-start your project. You constantly re-shape your product along meetings with several mentors.

However, if we had to give you a tip, here’s one: Listen to what they say but do not necessarily take it as an unquestionable truth. Everyone has different opinions, and every mentor has a different field of expertise. Therefore, they will express what they think from their expert point of view of you.

You, on the other side, need to remember that your product has to integrate every different field together. Listen carefully to what they have to say, take notes.

After your meeting, you will want to discuss it with your team, and see what are their views on the mentors’ recommendations. Sure our product today is way different from what we had in mind on day 1, but we handpicked advices and feedbacks we got along the way while keeping our main idea which is to be a one-stop-shop for events. Otherwise we would have done the same as most of our competitors do.

Raising funds

If we wanted to continue our great journey, we would need some funds. And there started the crazy quest for money.

We actually wrote a blog post to explain how did we raised £170,000 in 5 weeks so we’re not going into details about that here but let me just tell you that it was a wise decision to go with crowdfunding for a first fundraising.

Employees working in a clean office space

The next step

The next big step was to find new offices. Should we go for the cheapest office where you are not necessarily surrounded by other start-ups, or choose a nice co-working space, where you get to meet many people and network (remember earlier? the network cultivate thing?)

We decided to go with the latter. You see, when we do things, we do them big. That’s why we moved into the biggest co-working space in Europe: WeWork Moorgate, thinking we would have many potential clients a door away from us.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the smartest move we did.

We figured out quite quickly that these offices were slightly too “corporate” for us. Plus, there was so many people working there that in the end you get to know well a really small number of them. We would say a big co-working space is great when you are in the next phase, looking to raise a Series A or B. Otherwise, you might want to go for something smaller and with a stronger start-up community.

If there were one piece of advice you should remember from this article when your start a start-up outside of your country is to give of lot of efforts to cultivate your network. Yes, you will sometimes meet some creepy dudes but you mostly get to meet awesome people who will help you out throughout your journey, sometimes when not expected. We also had our very own way of making our way through the great London start-up scene: complaining. But hey, we’re from France ;)

To be continued…

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you want to know more. If you have any friend, cousin, ex-to-be or family who are thinking of organising an event soon, please let them know we are here :)

Our website is, you can find us on Facebook or Twitter.

We organise private events – birthday parties, babyshower, etc. – as well as business events – start-up launch parties, networking events, workshops, etc.