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What's It Like to Join Europe’s Biggest Startup Campus?

What's It Like to Join Europe’s Biggest Startup Campus? main image

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If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, startup campuses are the latest craze in co-working. They  give budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to set up shop in a large space next to other startups and venture capital funds.

These campuses aren’t just swanky real estate: they run pitch nights, legal clinics, networking events, venture capital workshops, and talks to give entrepreneurs the support and community they need to thrive.

We spoke to Julie Chapon, co-founder of Yuka, a mobile app which lets consumers analyse the health impact of grocery products by scanning barcodes with their smartphones.

Julie Chapon joined Station F having taken part in an incubator run by EDHEC Business School for a year. Julie initially studied at in 2011 before working for a digital consultancy firm for five years.

She said: “ contacted me about their partnership with Station F, and they asked if I was interested to have an office at Station F and I immediately said yes.”

A €250 million space inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron

Since it was inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron in July of last year, Station F has grown into Europe’s largest startup campus.

The mega-campus founded by billionaire Xavier Neil is home to over 15 venture capital funds and has its own tech lab and makerspace with 3D printers and laser cutters.

Julie Chapon, who spends most of her days working on her project at Station F, said: “It’s very big and everything is open, so the space in of itself is inspiring”.

Based in a former railway depot in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, the €250 million space is about 58 meters wide and 310 meters long, or the equivalent in size of the Eiffel Tower laid down (it’s huge).

It features 3,000 desks, arcade games, a post office and even a coffee shop with an unusual business model. The coffee shop is open to the public where you can eat and drink unlimited beverages and snacks, but get charged by the hour.  

Station F is currently building three tower blocks 10 minutes from campus, which will contain 100 apartments to house 600 entrepreneurs.

Learning from like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs

One of the biggest draws of Station F for Julie was the chance to meet and learn from founders across industries who overcame similar challenges.

She said: “There are hundreds of startups on campus and we often share our stories, difficulties and any tips, so it’s very interesting to have so many startups around to learn from.

“They organise events all week and get big startups to come and talk about their experiences, and Station F members get to attend and ask questions.

“So every week, there are many events we can participate in, which is interesting because we can learn a lot about our field. It’s like a big campus with many startups”.

But one of the highlights of her residency at Station F remains a free coding session where she learnt about the basics of computer programming.

“They ran a free two-hour workshop to learn the basics of coding for people who’ve never learnt and are from a marketing and communications background.

“These two hours spent learning the basics of code were incredibly interesting.”

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