I was recently visiting Paris and after 3 days there I have some thoughts I would like to share with you. Also, if you have thoughts about Paris (from startup point of view) I would be more than happy if you share them here.
My friends from San Francisco stopped by in Paris (this is the reason I went down there), so we have some espresso, discussed things, exchanged startup ideas and had nice wine. We share startup passion, so my thoughts are the fruit of our common conversation.
It was so hard to find free WIFI in Paris. I would never think about it but popular place like Starbucks, charges for WIFI. This is huge, as Starbucks is famous: free WiFi, free table for work. Here in Paris – no….. Regular French cafe (coffee place with small tables and long bar table) sometimes has free of charge WiFi , but nobody will tell you that. The WiFi sticker is hidden somewhere in the kitchen, as nobody needs WiFi. You will not feel that spirit (as you can feel in Starbucks in Palo Alto) of coffee shops where people hang out because they work on some thing, they do research etc. Paris is no startup place.
Anyway – if you go to Paris and you are startup man, so probably you will look for place to work, mind that Starbucks in Paris will charge you 2Euros (3US) for 30 minutes of high – speed Internet.
You will find free Internet in McDonald. That’s ok especially that in Europe McDonald developed new type of places called McDonald Cafe. They are nice, with small desks (cool for work with your Mac) but nobody in McDonald speaks English. You say what ?! Yes, and moreover, I ordered American Coffee and they served me French Late:).
I found Paris very impressive - it has beautiful old buildings, nice architecture and this lovely, full of amor (love) spirit. It is great for morning newspaper with small espresso. It is great for evening walks in one of the French gardens with your wife or girlfriend or somebody you love. And of course they have great, great wines (I even visited some wineries). But I think it is kind of risk to consider Paris as the city where you can bet on innovations, where startup spirit flies in the air.
This WiFi and English language examples made me think that Parisians don’t consider English language and internet access as important things. In the era of Facebook, YouTube, FilesTube – communication factor is very important. Not using English and not making Internet accessible as chewing gum, it is hard to speed up innovation.