The CentQuatre is a space full of surprises:  mixing startups, including FoodTech, and… arts and culture (?!). But don’t be put off. With an integrated incubator and experimental space, CentQuatre has a lot to offer young businesses.  

CentQuatre: where business meets culture  

CentQuatre is an arts and culture centre situated in the North-East of Paris, situated at the heart of a cosmopolitan neighbourhood. I visited this centre, open to both the public and professionals, as we held our fourth AcceleRise session on its premises. It’s a fantastic, modern space, offering exhibitions and art shows… but what’s the relevance for our start-ups?
With its incubator, called 104 Factory, CentQuatre houses each year 15 to 20 startups in a program running from 6 months to 2 years. If most of the start-ups work in the sector of arts and culture, there are several involved in FoodTech, for example Aveine, the creator of InVino, the digital wine aerator and participant in AcceleRise’s first intake.
While I was initially sceptical of what a cultural centre could offer tech startups, I’ll admit that assessment was over hasty. There are definite advantages on offer: a mix of profiles (engineers and creative types), sort of melting pot fostering innovative thinking… and an access to the public, facilitating ‘real life’ testing of your product or solution.

Real life testing: a huge boon for start-ups   

Thanks to the large number of visitors (over 700,000 per year, as well as 350 on-site artists in residence), CentQuatre offers a great potential for start-ups looking for product testing avenues: exhibition openings, shows, and other draws.
Refining user experience, reorienting the target consumer, identifying bugs: the advantages of ‘IRL’ testing are well known. Following their test phases, certain start-ups from 104 Factory made such changes as switching their target from children to young adults, or correcting previously unknown technical anomalies.
As for Aveine, they have already put their concept into practice: “We tested InVino during show openings and gatherings held at CentQuatre. It was our first real-life experiment,” explains Nicolas Naigeon and Nicolas Kemennof, the start-up’s co-founders. “We were able to gain considerable insights into the product usage which was essential to its development on both the technical and UX sides.”
To find out more about the start-up intake of 104 Factory, contact Valérie Senghor, 104 Factory assistant director: v.senghor@104.fr

By Virginie Jourde-Bouton

Virginie Jourde

“Leave nothing to chance”. This could well be the credo of Office Manager, Virginie, whose iron will and incomparable organisational skills are put to good use for the smooth running of AcceleRise and the Vitagora cluster..