Lyon Notes



IMG_4336I was in Lyon to judge the start-ups of the Crowds’ Den and to moderate a panel for the World Entrepreneurship Forum. With over 500 participants from over 70 countries, the World Entrepreneurship Forum is one of the most important platforms in the world, connecting entrepreneurs, angel investors, academicians and policymakers from all over the world.

On the morning of the first day, I moderated a session on Financing Entrepreneurship 3.0, aiming to introduce the new financing model of start-ups and high-growth businesses in the 21st century where Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council of the USA, Paulo Andrez, Emeritus President of EBAN from Portugal, Peter Chun, President of Apex Investment of South Korea, and Yousef M. Hamidaddin, Founder and President of Oasis500 of Jordan were panel speakers.

The next morning I was on the stage as a WENF Lion to judge the finalists of the Crowds’ Den, a first time ever event at the World Entrepreneurship Forum with 6 experienced Lion investors from 6 different countries to assess the innovative business plans and ideas of 5 talented start-ups from 5 different countries.

It was a great pleasure for me to be the idea owner of the Crowds’ Den and invite my Dragon friends Riku from Finland, Marek from Poland and Selma from Austria to contribute to this important session of the forum with their know-how and experience.  A big thanks go out to them, because it was thanks to their experience as Dragons at the Dragons’ Den that Crowds’ Den became a real Den for start-ups.

images (3)France

A member of the Group of 7 (formerly G8) leading industrialised countries, France is ranked as the world’s seventh largest and the EU’s second largest economy by purchasing power parity. With 39 of the 500 biggest companies in the world in 2010, it ranks fourth in the Fortune Global 500, ahead of Germany and the UK. France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro in 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc in 2002.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), in 2009 France was the world’s sixth largest exporter and the fourth largest importer of manufactured goods. In 2008, France was the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment among OECD countries at $118 billion, ranking behind Luxembourg (where foreign direct investment was essentially monetary transfers to banks located there) and the US ($316 billion), but above the UK ($96.9 billion), Germany ($25 billion), or Japan ($24 billion).

In the same year, French companies invested $220 billion outside France, ranking France as the second largest outward direct investor in the OECD, behind the US ($311 billion), and ahead of the UK ($111 billion), Japan ($128 billion) and Germany ($157 billion).

Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of the economy. The Paris stock exchange (French: La Bourse de Paris) is an old institution, created by Louis XV in 1724. In 2000, the stock exchanges of Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels merged into Euronext. In 2007, Euronext merged with the New York stock exchange to form NYSE Euronext, the world’s largest stock exchange. Euronext Paris, the French branch of the NYSE Euronext group is Europe’s 2nd largest stock exchange market, behind the London Stock Exchange.

French companies have maintained key positions in the insurance and banking industries: AXA is the world’s largest insurance company. The leading French banks are BNP Paribas and the Crédit Agricole, ranking as the world’s first and sixth largest banks in 2010 (by assets), while the Société Générale group was ranked the world’s eighth largest in 2009.


The GDP of Lyon is 62 billion euro, and the city is the second richest after Paris. Lyon and its region Rhône-Alpes represent one of the most important economies in Europe and, according to Loughborough University, can be compared to Philadelphia, Mumbai or Athens concerning its international position.

According to the ECER-Banque Populaire, Lyon is the 14th favorite city in the European Union concerning the creation of companies and investments. High-tech industries like biotechnology, software development, game design, and internet services are also growing. Other important sectors include medical research and technology, non-profit institutions, and universities. Lyon is home to some of the most dangerous viruses in the world (class 4) in the Jean Merieux laboratory of research, like Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, Hendra, and Lassa.

The city is the headquarters of many companies like Euronews, Lyon Airports, BioMérieux, Sanofi Pasteur, LCL S.A., Cegid Group, Boiron, Infogrames, Groupe SEB, Renault Trucks, Irisbus, LVL Medical, GL Events, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, and intergovernmental agencies IARC, and Interpol.

The worldwide headquarters of Interpol is located there. The district of Confluence, in the south of the historic centre, is a new pole of economical and cultural development.

Tourism is an important part of the Lyon economy, with one billion euros in 2007 and 3.5 million hotel-nights in 2006 provided by non-residents. Approximately 60% of tourists visit for business, with the rest for leisure. In January 2009, Lyon ranked first in France for hostels business.

wef2014groupphotopascalmuradianWENF – World Entrepreneurship Forum

The World Entrepreneurship Forum was created in 2008 with the following belief:

  • With the current main disruptive changes the world is facing, entrepreneurship, creating both wealth and social justice, is key for shaping the world of 2050.

Through recommendations and actions, the Forum aims at creating a strong impact over entrepreneurs and stakeholders to drive the change towards a more entrepreneurial world. Over 750 entrepreneurs originating from 80 countries have already joined their peers to rethink, act on and transform their environment with the Forum.

IMG_4229The World Entrepreneurship Forum

  • Embraces the global entrepreneurial ecosystem: Business Entrepreneurs / Social Entrepreneurs / Policy Makers / Experts / Academics
  • Gathers a community of entrepreneurs from five continents: It is a powerful global network of leaders selected for their achievements and commitment to society.
  • Fosters a new humanism: WENF promotes the development of entrepreneurship creating wealth and social justice. This dual approach, economic and social, is one of the distinguishing features of the Forum.
  • Is altogether a think tank and a do tank: WENF shares the latest trends and issues about global entrepreneurship developing ideas and recommendations to facilitate entrepreneurial initiatives on a local or global scale.

lyonCrowds’ Den

In 2014, the World Entrepreneurship Forum breaks new ground with the launch of the Crowds’ Den experience. The idea came from Baybars Altuntas. Essentially, the aim is to create a unique experience for participants of the Forum that facilitates the emergence of businesses / projects that support the WENF’s values, mission and vision.

The Crowds’ Den combines modern crowdsourcing activities with the excitement of a “Dragons’ Den” pitch in front of experts. A small number of selected early-stage projects are offered the chance to present before a panel of experts as well as the Forum’s participants and the entire web in order to gain support, sponsorship, recognition and of course financial assistance.

  • Projects were sourced during the summer of 2014. The goal was to identify 4 to 5 projects in the early stage.
  • The video presentation of each start-up was placed on a partner crowdsourcing site in order to be viewed. Potential funding started once the project is placed on the crowdfunding site.
  • During the 3-day Forum, the 5 selected projects were provided a “space” to share their project with Forum participants (table, displays, document sharing, etc.). They were there to share the project and eventually seek sponsorship.
  • Day 2 of the Forum, the Crowds’ Den took place from 11h00 to 12h30. During the 90-minute period, each of the projects had roughly 15 minutes to pitch their project and take Q&A from the Lions (jury) experts (8 min presentation / 7 min Q&A).
  • The “LIVE” presentation included:
    1. The live audience that is present at the Forum are invited to:
      1. Micro-invest in the projects to show their support. Investment was done LIVE online using mobile devices (credit cards, PayPal). The total investments were seen dynamically on a large screen.
      2. Send messages to the jury members to suggest questions, voice their opinion. Each Lion / jury member / expert had a particular twitter @ or # to receive messages.
  • General comments could be seen on the large screen. They could be sent to a particular hashtag (e.g. #WentfrDen). The Web audience watched the event live and might also contribute financially via the crowdfunding site.


dsc4169wef2014Lions of Crowds’ Den

  1. Baybars Altuntas, Turkey
  2. Yousef Hamisaddin, Jordan
  3. Steven Fang, Singapore
  4. Riku Asikainen, Finland
  5. Selma Pradonovic, Austria
  6. Marek Rusiecki, Poland
  • The facilitator: Matt Symonds, Entrepreneur / Founder of the QS World MBA Tour / BBC Columnist / Forbes Contributor.
  • Organising Team
    Michel Coster, France
    Dan Evans, France

1st Day – 19 October 2014, Sunday

After a nice flight with the business class service of Turkish Airlines, I was in Lyon. This was my second visit to Lyon; the first visit was 2 years ago, again for the World Entrepreneurship Forum. The main difference between the first and this second visits was the weather. My first visit had been in October too, but it was rainy and I didn’t have an opportunity to walk through the streets of Lyon. But this time was different. A very sunny day and a very spring-like weather greeted me in Lyon and stayed until the latest day of the Forum.

JPO_9452WENF had sent a car to take us from the airport to the hotel. Aysen Zamanpur from Turkey, Riku flying in from Helsinki and who landed at the same time as my flight, Bahadir Ödev from Turkey and I all met at the airport and were taken by the same car to the same hotel.

We stayed at the Novotel Lyon Confluence Hotel, where all Forum members stayed. It was at a three-minute walking distance to all venues of the events. It was very comfortable and centrally located. The service was good and the young generation was handling everything at the hotel.


3 Rue Paul Montrochet, 69002, Lyon  +33 4 37 23 64 00

After we placed our belongings in the hotel, it was time to go to the 7pm welcome reception and dinner of the Forum at the SelCius Restaurant (43, Quai Ramboud – 69002 – Lyon). It was a really nice restaurant with a welcoming entrance. We enjoyed a chat with friends and had dinner with Paulo, Riku and other friends.

After the dinner, we were back at the hotel around 11pm to rest up for the next day.

dsc2701tugrulindergit222nd Day – 20 October 2014, Monday

After an 8am breakfast, we walked along the river of Lyon to the event center. Everybody was ready for the opening session of the event in the assembly hall of the Lyon Chamber of Commerce. The same hall had hosted us 2 years ago for the same purpose. After the official opening speech of Prof Tugrul Atamer, Executive Chairman of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, we were ready to follow the full programme of this year.

Here you can find the full programme and a list of all participants of 2014’s WENF Congress in Lyon.

Directory & Program_World Entrepreneurship Forum 2014 – 14-10-2014

After lunch, everybody moved to the sessions they wanted to attend. I went to the room where I would moderate a think-tank session about better ways to ease access to finance for start-ups and high-growths.

IMG_4263Financing Entrepreneurs 3.0:

Introducing the New Financing Model of Start-ups & High-growth Businesses in the 21st Century

Here is my message to the Forum members who would follow our session:

Dear World Entrepreneurship Forum Delegates,

One of the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s roles is to support SMEs through finding and proposing better models which will create more finance for start-ups and high-growth businesses and new efficient ways to ease the access to finance globally where there is also role for crowdfunders, angel investors, banks, public authorities, accelerators, awarding bodies, VCs, stock markets, private equity funds and family offices.

IMG_4239Goals of the think-tank session

Within this context, I will moderate a think-tank session of the World Entrepreneurship Forum on the 20th of October in Lyon that will try to describe how early stage market investment players could be fostered to reach a critical mass in certain sectors, regions or countries. Given that global dimension is very important in early stage market activities, the awareness of co-investment possibilities along with the proposed models of World Entrepreneurship Forum through financial instruments could play an important role in SME financing. Outputs of this session will provide inspiration for the global players of the early stage investment market.

This think-tank session will also provide a concrete suggestion for relevant actions which could be usefully taken at local level, regional level and global level.

The target audience of this session will be policymakers, crowdfunders, angel investors, accelerators, banks, private equity funds, and SME stakeholders, at the local level, regional level and global level.

This session is intended to managing authorities. This session will put concrete elements, a “how to do” solution for SMEs to have access to finance. It will not focus on many statistics and theoretical details. It will only focus on a step-by-step method that includes “dos” and “don’ts”.

Finally, the conclusion of this session will propose a new model with all the elements necessary to have access to finance.

Lastly, we will provide a structure of a proposal that SMEs could use to access to finance much easier than today. This document will be published o line at and it will be very easy to understand and to use.

This new model – if developed – will be conveyed to European Commission in Brussels by EBAN and US State Departments of SMEs via Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.

IMG_4249How did I run this session?

After a short introduction to the early stage investment market, I briefly introduced each of the panellists. So, after taking some questions from the audience, we started sharing our own expert views about the main question:

What could be better financing models for start-ups and high-growth businesses?

  • Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, USA  crowdfunding
  • Yousef M. Hamidaddin, Founder and President of Oasis500, Jordan – accelerator
  • Paulo Andrez, EBAN Emeritus President, Portugal angel investment
  • Peter Chun, Founders and President of APEX, Korea VC

Following our addressees to the audience, I divided the audience into 4 groups and each expert on the panel led one of the groups. Each group had 2 kinds of roles:

  • One side became entrepreneurs who needed finance.
  • The other group became investors who could provide finance for them.



Group 1: Dreaming the Business

Main sources of finance: bootstrapping – crowdfunding – public funds – competition awards

Main steps: Wannapreneurship – Innovation

Challenge: Equity Gap 1



Group 2: Starting the Business

Main sources of finance: accelerators – customer – angel investors – banks

Main steps: Innovation – Entrepreneurship – marketing & sales




Group 3: Growing the Business

Main sources of finance: banks – private equities – VCs – franchising

Main steps: marketing & sales – branding – institutionalisation – franchising

Challenge: Equity Gap 2



Group 4: Maturing the Business

Main sources of finance: banks – VCs – Coinvestment Funds – stock markets – M&A

Main steps: franchising – leadership – angel investment


Following the think-tank activity, each group announced the 3 key findings and solutions to the challenge of their stage. My assistant from Bosphorus University (Nuri, Chair of – JWEF Turkey) wrote all key findings on the board and we tried to lead the audience towards a concrete proposal that would be called New Financing 3.0: A new access to finance model for start-ups and high-growth businesses of the 21st century.

The time-flow of the session

  • Introduction: 5 minutes
  • Interaction with audience: 14 minutes
  • Panel discussion: 25 minutes
  • Think-tank session: 25 minutes
  • Key findings: 10 minutes
  • Discussion of key findings: 10 minutes
  • Announcing Financing 3.0: 1 minute

Total: 90 minutes

Here are my slides for the session:   Financing 3.0

IMG_4271After the session, I went back to the main congress hall to announce the key findings of our session. Following this mini presentation, I returned to the hotel to rest. Around 7pm, I met with my friends at the lobby and we went together to the Docks 40 Restaurant (40, Quai Rambaud – 69002 – Lyon) for a Community Dinner. It was a lovely dinner which gave a great opportunity to chat with friends.






3rd Day – 21 October 2014, Tuesday

After breakfast, everybody was ready for the second day’s programme at the La Sucriere (49-50, Quai Rambaud – 69002 – Lyon) to attend the new sessions.

The second day of the World Entrepreneurship Forum 2014 started with an inspirational session conducted by 4 key entrepreneurs.

First Ms. Letizia Molatti introduced the socio-economic enterprises concept to bridge the gap in society.

JPO_9438Mr. Richard EU then narrated his experience of handling failures in his family business while inducing family values in his organizational hierarchy.

The young Australian entrepreneur 2012 award winner, Ms. Marita Chang, described her journey from a simple university workshop on robotics to starting up her company Robogals Global.

The last speaker, Mr. Chief Nyamweya, spoke about how he embedded happiness as one of the core values of his business.

As I told you before, it was time for me to come to the stage to judge the start-up finalists from 5 different countries as one of the 6 Lions of the Crowds’ Den.

It was a very lovely session with over 300 people. It was featured live online and it was the first time for an event to give the audience an opportunity to invest in the start-ups immediately, online.

Unfortunately, I am not able to share the video of the Crowds’ Den because I have not been able to get a copy myself. So, I am just able to share photographs about this event.

IMG_43055 talented Start-up Founders of the Crowds’ Den:

  • Norma Sit – Numoni Pte Ltd. – Banking on the future of the nonbankable, Singapore.
  • Shannon Clarke – Medirevu – Connecting caregivers for a healthier tomorrow, Barbados.
  • Bahadir Odevci – Imonacloud – A silver-lined cloud on the horizon, Turkey.
  • Marta Jurek – Izzybike – Unchaining the urban cycling revolution, Poland.
  • Spas Balinov – Novanano – Connecting the unconnected, France
  • Here you can find some practical info about Crowds’ Den

Here is the application form for start-ups: Application World Entrepreneurship Forum

Here is the press release about Crowds’ Den: defwefocrowdsdenpressreleaseen

IMG_4292After a delicious lunch, 3 workshops were conducted. One workshop on the “City of the future” summarized how future cities would improve and be enabled by technology, turning into global innovative ecosystem. The second workshop, “Living in the future”, elaborated on the impressions of future cities and advancements in biotechnology and robotics, followed by a group discussion about future living. The third workshop, “Learning in future”, emphasized the importance of networking in enterprise education. It also briefed us about the path of learning, including self-directed learning.

I participated in the first workshop, ‘’City of future’’, which was moderated by Paulo Andrez. Because I was so tired, I started to doze off in the first row of the panel 30 minutes the session started. After a 15-minute nap in my chair, I decided to go to my room in the hotel and sleep there.

Paulo and I had a meeting with Rein from Singapore Nanjang University to discuss a challenging issue. We met at the lobby terrace of the hotel at 5pm and around 7pm we left for the gala dinner. It was a very pleasant walk, joined by friends from the USA, Egypt, Palestine, and Nigeria.

with the founder of EF Language Schools

Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony

The Award Ceremony Gala Dinner followed in the evening, listening to the inspiring stories of four successful and impactful entrepreneurs. The ambassador of Turkey to France made the opening speech. During the dinner, awards were presented to the winners. This year’s award recipients are:




  • « Young entrepreneur », Rapelang Rabana (Botswana) recently set up Rekindle Learning, a start-up that offers innovative e-learning solutions for mobiles and tablets that has had an impact on the whole of Africa.
  • « Social entrepreneur », Rodrigo Baggio (Brazil): Regarded by Time Magazine as one of the leading powers of the 21st Century in Latin America, this former IBM employee, computer « geek » and digital activist owned his first computer at the age of 12 and in 1995 created the Committee for Democracy in Information Technology (CDI).
  • « Educational entrepreneur » Bertil Hult (Sweden, Switzerland) is one of the first people to have created a language teaching research and development centre incorporating a wide range of innovative, educational methods. EF Education First is the official supplier of language training to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
  • « Business entrepreneurs », Micky and Renuka Jagtiani (India, United Emirates): The former London taxi driver is the founder of the Landmark Group conglomerate that has a portfolio of brands in fashion, consumer electronics, hotel and catering, restaurants, retail and footwear. Regarded as one of the top 100 most influential Indian company bosses in the Gulf, his adventure began in 1973 in Bahrain, when he set up his first shop. His wife Renuka is also highly involved in the group, which is based in Dubai and is present in 18 countries.

After the gala dinner, it was time to go to an after-dinner party, but I didn’t attend it because I was a bit tired.


IMG_42554th Day – 22 October 2014, Wednesday

Wednesday marked the end of WENF2014. The final session occupied the entire morning from 9-12 and took place in an intimate setting designed to get more personal with this year’s award winners.

Rodrigo Baggio (Brazil, Social Entrepreneur), Bertil Hult (Sweden, Switzerland, Educational Entrepreneur), and Rapelang Rabana (South Africa, Young Entrepreneur) shared their individual experiences with the gathering via Q&A.

Various topics were covered, from the speakers’ personal experiences to giving advice for budding entrepreneurs. The discussions included valuable comments on how growth of entrepreneurship moves forward the world.

The setting was conducive for members to really gain an understanding of how these Global Entrepreneurial Leaders think and feel, and the motivation drivers for their actions.

After the Q&A session lunch was served and members mingled with students and speakers, engaging in conversations aimed at developing future initiatives for the creation of a better world.

The shuttle organised by WENF took me to the airport and it started to rain and get cold as I was leaving Lyon.

Thank you to all the participants, including speakers, members, students, faculty, and staff. This globally collaborative effort will have ripple effects in the future world through the new connections made and initiatives launched. Good fortunes to all as they travel, live and work in the 3.0 World, where opportunities are truly unlimited. ​

Enjoy the photo album of 2014’s WENF

See you next year in China!

IMG_4338 IMG_4323 IMG_4259 IMG_4250 IMG_4218 dsc2941wef20142


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s