Entrepreneurs in Paris have a new home.
A giant incubator for startups, Station F, opened its doors to the public on Thursday night in a launch party attended by French president Emmanuel Macron, Station F’s billionaire founder Xavier Niel, director Roxanne Varza, and Nest founder Tony Fadell.
Station F can house up to 1,000 startups, all of whom need to be part of an existing programme. The incubator has its own programmes, like the Founders programme, but there are also bigger companies running their own startup accelerators inside the building. These include Facebook, Microsoft, Vente-Privee, Amazon Web Services, and Zendesk.
The building is the biggest central space for startups in the world. Station F is the length of the Eiffel Tower lying sideways, and is based out of an abandoned railway depot that’s undergone a £217 million transformation.
During the launch party, Macron invited startup entrepreneurs from around the world to come to Paris. “If you want to invent, to invest, to develop your startup, you have to come here directly to Paris, Station F, and everything will be organised for you.”
This is Station F, a startup superhub founded and funded by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel.
It’s a massive building with three halls for meetings, offices, and a giant restaurant with train cars as dining rooms
It is based out of an old railway depot called Halle Freyssinet, which was going into disrepair before Xavier Niel bought it.
Shona Ghosh/Business Insider
Startups have been moving into the refurbished Station F through the end of June — here is Xavier Niel with the first batch of residents at the launch party.
Niel told Business Insider in March that he wanted more diverse founders in Station F.
“[It’s for] people who are not — how do you say it — classic, white, Catholic,” he said at the time. “We ought to have a lot of diversity in this place, to have more diversity in Paris.”
As part of its launch, Station F said it had created a new programme for disadvantaged entrepreneurs called “Fighters.”
Newly installed French president Emmanuel Macron announced the launch of Station F and said France was a “startup” nation.
Macron joked that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. “Then I pivoted my business model.”
Here’s Macron with his wife Brigitte, and Xavier Niel.
Station F director Roxanne Varza said 40% of the startups selected for Station F’s founders programme were founded by women.
Shona Ghosh/Business Insider
Around 2,000 people attended the launch, according to Station F.
That included Nest founder and the “godfather” of the iPod, Tony Fadell, who resides in Paris.
Fadell described Station F on Twitter as “An incredible lightning rod for Parisian and French and European tech startups!”.
Vente Privee CEO Jacques Antoine Granjon also went.
Here’s Macron at the completed Station F, with director Roxanne Varza, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, and Xavier Niel.