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Creating a French Tech in Singapore

Adrien Barthel (GEM ESC 2010) crée un French Tech à Singapour
Published on
03 July 2017

In 2010, Adrien Barthel (GEM ESC 2010) moved to Singapore in order to develop Carrefour’s first e-commerce platform. Seven years later, after several professional experiences in the region, he launched a French Tech hub in Singapore. In March 2017, the project’s success was underlined by the support of French President François Hollande.

Singapore French Tech unites a community of 500 members from startups to entrepreneurs, SME directors, managers of major corporations, the Singapore Economic Development Board, the French Embassy and the Singaporean Prime Minister's office. “Singapore has a strong capacity to innovate and commercialize new technology,” highlights Adrien Barthel, who co-founded this first French Tech project in Asia.

Support from the French Embassy

Every month, Singapore French Tech holds a public event as well as smaller opportunities for networking and mentoring. “All events are free. It’s about networking and we’re here to share our experience, inspire future entrepreneurs and encourage both French startups and investment funds in Southeast Asia,” explains Adrien. Given the project’s quick growth, the French President François Hollande, nominated Singapore French Tech as the official French Tech hub in Asia.

The year 2018 will be dedicated to French-Singaporean innovation. This vision will bring together major actors in research and digital technology thanks to support from the French Development Agency, the Singaporean Economic Development Board, the Singaporean Prime Minister and the French Embassy. The project will unite a variety of French and Singaporean research institutions in both fundamental and applied research, as well as organizations dedicated to bringing research to market.

Southeast Asia: a fertile but complexe region for innovation

In 2010, Adrien began his career in Jakarta after completing his Master’s in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management. He joined Carrefour Indonesia to develop the group’s first e-commerce platform. “This mission enabled me to discover a chaotic developing country. Chaos translates to many problems, but also many solutions and opportunities.”

In February 2013, Adrien joined as Chief Marketing Officer. This four year old startup had four employees at the time and aimed to develop e-commerce for cosmetic products in Singapore. After two important fund raising operations, Luxula now operates in 11 countries and employees 300 people. “This experience helped me build an important local network in terms of entrepreneurship, finance and politics. My network helped accelerate the expansion of Luxola and avoid numerous problems.” The startup was sold to the LVMH group in July 2015 and will become Sephora’s e-commerce unit in Southeast Asia.

Following this experience, Adrien created Sleek, a platform to incorporate businesses in Singapore and manage gouvernance, accounting, taxes and domiciliation.

“It’s easy to create a company in Singapore. However, you have to rely on an agent to carry out registration acts. Unfortunately, these agents are often inefficient, costly and not at all digitalized. We disrupted this market by creating a 100% digital solution with clear pricing and excellent efficiency. As a result of this experience, I noticed that there were many French entrepreneurs setting up shop in Singapore and the surrounding region in order to work in digital-related fields. This was the starting point for Singapore French Tech.”

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