Catherine Barba at EDHEC

Written on 05 July 2013.


This was just one bit of advice Barba passed on to members of the EDHEC Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) incubator when she visited the EDHEC Business School recently.

“The more digital our world becomes, the more we need the human touch,” said Barba, who created and later sold the web retail site as well as the e-business consulting firm Malinea. “Ninety per cent of the time, when I invest in a start-up, it is not because of the business plan or the concept behind it, it’s the people. That’s what attracts me the most.”
Barba, who now heads up the Chatherine Barba Group in Paris, visited EDHEC’s Lille campus on June 20. During her visit, she shared with the EYE members some of her own experiences as an Internet entrepreneur, but also answered nuts-and-bolts questions about how to build a business from the ground up. EDHEC Business School created the EYE incubator in 2010 to accompany students, EDHEC graduates, and members of the outside community through the business creation process. So far, the EYE programme has helped to launch 26 businesses and has created 100 jobs.

During the day-long EYE seminar that Barba kicked-off, the young entrepreneurs also participated in a law class about business contracts as well as a discussion on business best practices. In addition, they met with a group of students from Stanford University who were visiting the region as part of the EuraTechnologies business incubator, which is based in Lomme, near Lille.

During her meeting with the EYE group, Barba told the entrepreneurs not to fear failure. Instead, she encouraged them to embrace their mistakes and to use them to regroup, refocus, and re-energize. “If I hadn’t had some difficulties in my career, I wouldn’t have made the decisions I made, for instance, the decision to start my consulting agency,” Barba said. “What you put down in black and white, you will have to adjust, and that’s a good thing. That’s what I find is the most fun.” Nicolas Fayon and Benoit Vallon, the founders of PageYourself, a start-up that is part of the EYE incubator, said that they appreciated the chance to chat with a business leader such as Barba. “We don’t often get the chance to look at the big picture,” said Fayon. “It’s nice to look at our start-up, our work, our ambition, from a new or different perspective.”

Fayon, an EDHEC graduate, and Vallon are the creators of an Internet site called PageYourself that provides tools businesses that allow them to personalize their Facebook page. The site, the first of its kind, is already creating a buzz. In a few months, Fayon and Vallon will travel to San Francisco, California, where they will spend a month meeting with prospective partners and investors. Their trip and expenses during their stay will be covered by Paris Incubators, part of the Laboratoire Paris Région Innovation, a group of business incubators located in the French capitol.
Fayon and Vallon attribute much of their success to the aid of the EYE incubator, which provides young business start-ups with invaluable advice on creating a business plan and finding investors. The incubator also links young entrepreneurs to the larger business world, including more than 24,000 EDHEC alumni in 120 different countries, to help them promote their business. This network is an incredible asset, Fayon said.

Shot ©Jonathan ALEXANDRE

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