YEi – The Best Kept Secret Among Startup Accelerators?

The Young Entrepreneurs Initiative is an accelerator program for U.S. startups sponsored by the government of France. It is administered from the Consulate General of France in Boston by the Office for Science and Technology. I have been following the program for several years. I like what they offer. More American startups should apply.

The name is somewhat misleading – it’s the enterprise that needs to be young, not the entrepreneur. The program is designed for companies that are thinking of expanding to Europe, either to establish a presence or simply to sell there.

The program consists of mentorship in the U.S. and an intensive week of networking in France. If your company is selected, YEi will connect you with the appropriate people for you to meet throughout France. Your expenses are covered and – best of all – no equity is surrendered.

YEi is not well-known and is therefore underutilized by companies for whom France might be an attractive market or a beachhead in Europe. This is an accelerator that AdTech startups in particular should consider, as they might benefit from making connections in the large advertising community in Paris. (Think Havas, Publicis, Criteo.) Also, the availability of generous tax credits for research and development work done in France makes the program very interesting to life sciences startups. France also has great engineers.

Who is eligible?

Any U.S. company with:

  • Less than 30 employees, and
  • Less than $2 million in annual revenue

Applications are due July 31. In past years, anywhere between five and ten companies have been selected. Go here to apply.