European Business: Roxanne, you are the director of Station F, the largest startup campus worldwide. What resources do you want to provide for entrepreneurs in this space?
Roxanne Varza: Station F is based on the idea of an American university campus. We brought all the resources that an entrepreneur needs together under one and the same roof: work spaces for our 1000 startups, 30 international support programmes, a prototyping lab, around 30 public services, a community of more than 30 investment funds, a restaurant for more than 1.000 people with five different kitchens and two bars and, coming soon, housing for 600 of our occupants.
Station F is based on the idea of an American university campus. We brought all the resources that an entrepreneur needs together under one and the same roof Roxanne Varza
European Business: You are also the co-founder of StartHer, an association that aims at supporting women in technological entrepreneurship. What is the goal of such a platform and what have the biggest StartHer successes been in the last eight years?
Roxanne Varza: The aim of StartHer is to encourage women to pursue careers in the tech industry. Our annual list of 10 women to follow has become a vital gathering point, every year we have organised a flagship event, a pitch for startups founded by women from all over Europe, and we publish a yearly study on female fundraising. We have also offered free training courses and we have organised the biggest competition for startups founded by women in Europe. Right now, we are preparing new projects dedicated to education...
We have organised the biggest competition for startups founded by women in Europe. Roxanne Varza
European Business: For a successful woman, especially in the digital or tech industry, it is almost inevitable to be asked questions on her own career not only as an entrepreneur, but also as a woman. Is it still that remarkable that a woman might gain a foothold in these areas? Has it been difficult for you personally?
Roxanne Varza: There has been enormous progress these past years, there are more and more successful women entrepreneurs: Céline Lazortes, Lara Rouyres, Marjolaine Grondin, Jasmine Antenuis... They are still in the minority, but nowadays at Station F, we have reached a level of 40% of startups founded by women, so there is progress!
There has been enormous progress these past years, there are more and more successful women entrepreneurs. Roxanne Varza
European Business: If you had to give a piece of advice to a young entrepreneur who wants to launch a tech startup, male or female, what would you tell them?
Roxanne Varza: I often tell them to begin with projects, not necessarily with startups: setting up an association, or an event.... That teaches you a lot about management and responsibilities and it is less engaging than a business.
European Business: You have left Silicon Valley in order to live in France. Where does this love for France stem from and will you be pursuing your career in France?
Roxanne Varza: I have always been quite fascinated by France, it is difficult for me to understand where the attraction for this country comes from. But I can say that I feel at home here, even more than in the US.
Interview: Eleytheria Heine / Credits: Pascal Othlingaus, Francois Tancre