What is Impact? What happened to ubi i/o?

Impact is the new name for ubi i/o, the acceleration program launched by Business France and Bpifrance in 2014 in San Francisco.

Our vision has always been to build a global platform for French startups that have the ambition to become global. From Day 1, we’ve chosen a small-scale approach, working with a limited number of companies and growing step by step. We started in San Francisco, then we added a campus in New York. After three successful editions in the U.S., our program is now expanding its footprint in China, and will add other campuses beyond 2017.

Our new brand shows our ambition: have a strong impact on French startups’ international expansion.

Why participate in Impact USA?

When launching in the U.S., most companies waste a significant amount of time and money understanding the dynamics of the local market, designing the right go-to-market strategy, getting familiar with their new ecosystem, setting up their organization, etc. With the support of its local network, the Impact team gives you all the necessary tools to be operational quickly, kick start your business development and increase your visibility locally.

What does Impact USA do precisely?

Impact allows you to accomplish in 3 months what would normally take you more than a year when launching in the U.S.. Our acceleration program, unique of its kind, tackles four challenges that most companies face during their market entry:

  • Adopting a marketing strategy tailored to the American market: 10 weeks before your arrival, we’ll help you build an action plan that we’ll execute throughout the program and beyond.
    You will receive personalized coaching specifically tailored to your marketing (offering, positioning, pitching and storytelling) with experts who’ve helped many of today’s well known tech leaders (Apple, Adobe Systems, Cisco Systems, Dell Computers, etc).
    We will choose the appropriate experts in our lineup of 70+ mentors to help address the most critical issues for your development: growth strategy, fundraising, product development, legal and fiscal strategies, resource management, etc.
  • Becoming a well-known player within your local ecosystem: Impact brings together a network of some of the most influential members of the tech community, both in New York and San Francisco. Every week you will be featured at highly visible pitching and networking events.
  • Engaging in and closing new business deals: Depending on your specific needs, we will define together the most appropriate strategy to build and grow your commercial pipeline in America. We will then build together a tailor-made program of meetings with potential clients and/or strategic partners. Since 2014, more than 200 U.S. sales deals have been secured, thanks to the leads generated by Impact.
  • Facilitating the setup of your local operations: First, we give you access to a workspace strategically located in the heart of the local ecosystem, as well as $100,000 worth of resources  in cloud computing, storage credits, airplane tickets, etc.

When does Impact USA take place?

Here are all the dates you need to be aware of:

  • Oct 6, 2016: Applications start
  • Dec 2, 2016: Applications close
  • Feb 2, 2017: Launch Bootcamp
  • Apr 17, 2017: Onsite residence starts (New York and San Francisco)
  • Jun 23, 2017: Demo Days

I’ve heard about ubi i/o, how different is it from Impact?

ubi i/o is Impact’s former name. As we have been continuously growing, and became an international program, we decided to change to a more, well …, Impactful name.

How is Impact USA different from any other acceleration program?

  • Impact works exclusively with French tech companies. More precisely, our program is dedicated to the ones that are launching in the U.S.
  • What we accelerate: their market entry process. The first 12 months are so critical that we’ve designed a specific program to tackle that.
  • Unlike typical accelerators, we select companies that already have a working/proven product and that can show a track record or demonstrate some market traction.
  • Unlike most accelerators, we don’t take any equity in participating companies.

Last but not least, Impact is the only program dedicating to its portfolio companies an in-house business development team, helping you to generate business leads and finetune commercial pipeline. The reason we do it: market feedback is extremely valuable when building a go-to-market strategy. And by the way, more than 200 sales contracts have been signed by our alumni throughout the first two editions of Impact…

How long is Impact USA?

The onsite program itself is 10 weeks long. From day one of the onsite program, you will be introduced to potential business leads, so you need to be prepared for it! This is why we’ve designed a 2 month-long online preparation, including personalized coaching sessions on your strategy, marketing, pitching and storytelling. This preparation period starts early February with a bootcamp in Paris that brings  all the selected companies together.

Is Impact the accelerator program for you?

YES if:

  • Your product has market validation and is relevant in the U.S. (revenue generated, client references, etc.)
  • Your executive team is ready to commit to the program by participating in it throughout its entirety.
  • You have sufficient resources and / or have a realistic financial plan to support your U.S. development.

Can I apply to both locations in the US?

Although these two ecosystems are increasingly connected, each one has its own DNA, players and specific dynamics. Integrating it is a key component of your success in the U.S. This is why we ask you to apply to only one of our two programs, and concentrate your efforts in that specific area.

Your choice may be driven by factors such as (geographical) market potential, concentration of industry players (your competition, your partners, your potential investors, etc,) as well as more practical reasons (time difference with France, costs, etc.). However, do not hesitate to contact us if you need some guidance before applying.

Can I apply if our company or founders are not from France?

As a French government supported program, and because there are enough amazing tech startups in France, we only accept French incorporated companies.

Can I reapply to the program?

Of course you can, and you probably should!  Although competition is though – we can only select a small percentage of applicants – we see a lot of companies growing over time, improving their product, fine-tuning their business model, and getting more market traction. We hope that you are one of them, and that 2017 is the right time for you to launch in the U.S.

When and how to apply?

The deadline to submit your application is December 3rd, 2016. The application form is available here. The application materials include: a questionnaire, a marketing presentation, a 2 min video. We will also expect you to submit the official order form («bon de commande ») with your application in order for it to be accepted; your application will only be accepted once we’ve received the order form.

Should I be concerned about disclosing business data in my application?

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing some of your business data, don’t. Yet remember our jury does need to have the clearest vision of your company’s potential while evaluating your application therefore we strongly advise you to share as much details as you can.

How will the participants be selected?

A jury of experts (VCs and successful entrepreneurs, all based in the area you are targeting) will select companies based on predetermined criteria. Evaluation criteria include: overall description of your U.S. plan, management team behind the project, product and its features, product’s references (clients, strategic partners, investors if you have any) as well as financial resources needed to support your U.S. development (or a credible plan showing how you will get these resources).

Is my company too advanced to participate in Impact?

Revenue, age and size of your company are not criteria of selection for Impact. Our program was designed for French companies whose growth strategy gives the U.S. market a key role. Most applicants are already active in America and in the process of setting up U.S. operations. Some already have U.S. offices and teams. Impact aims to put each of these companies in the best conditions to quickly and efficiently launch – or relaunch – in the U.S.

Which of my team members should participate in the program?

Presence of a member of the executive team is a must: most often the CEO, but it can also be a co-founder – if his/her position in the company is directly linked to the execution of your strategy for the  U.S., or if he/she is in charge of U.S. expansion. In the latter, it is important that that person be able to clearly present your offer in English, and be involved in the decision making process so he/she can be as responsive as possible when dealing with U.S. counterparts.

It is not only possible but even useful to have several members of your team participate during the program. However space per company is limited to two members (you will only be granted one workspace, which typically seats two people). In the past, several participants  chose to set up a turnover of their team throughout the duration of the program. It can be a great idea if you manage to provide all of the people involved with the same level of information relating to the meetings that were organized  and future strategic decisions.

Do I have to be there for the entire onsite program?

Yes. We are committed to you and expect an equivalent commitment towards the program. Thus, you are required to spend 100% of the program duration with us either in New York or San Francisco (it’s not so bad … we promise!) We’ve found that this is the best way to make the most out  of the numerous business, learning, networking and mentoring opportunities provided by Impact.

How much is it?

The application sign-up fee is 100 euros (tax not included) if you apply before Nov 3, 12.00am PST, 200 euros after this date.

If selected, the program costs 17950 euros (tax not included) – application fee is deducted from the program’s cost.

What financial responsibilities do participants have?

Participants are responsible for all personal costs not directly related to the program: transportation, housing, and all costs of developing their company’s business in the U.S. Impact will provide participants with a “Survival Guide” prior to arriving, in order to help them simplify and optimize arrival and costs.

What are the resources made available with the workstation provided during the program?

During your stay in New York or San Francisco, you will be provided with a work station in offices located downtown. The workstation will include a dedicated telephone line, the shared office space will also include Wi-Fi, a printing station and a conference room available for reservation. We strongly encourage you to order a SIM card with a U.S. phone number and print business cards indicating your contact in the United States prior to your arrival for the start of the program. Note that Business France does not provide individual dedicated computers, so please make your own arrangements to bring your own equipment.

Do you help with visa/immigration?

During the Impact program, we will provide you with general information on the process of setting yourself up in the U.S., including the immigration requirements. However, we do not sponsor or help in obtaining visas.

Do I have to give Impact equity?

No. We do not take equity in return for the benefits of Impact.

Are there any aids for funding Impact?

Because of our status and partnership with Bpifrance, we are able to offer this program at a great price and well below its actual cost.

What if my company does not get selected?

Not being selected does not mean that we do not want to work with your company. We receive a high volume of applications and our jury selects the ones they believe will most benefit from the program, at the time being. We work with over 200 companies every year and should you not be selected for ubi i/o, we are eager to discuss other options for potential collaborations.