"Graines de Boss" is opening up to entrepreneurs in Mauritius

Expat interviews
  • Fabrice Delon, CEO of Graines de Boss and Valérie Rougier, cofounder
    Expat.com
Published on 2022-11-25 at 11:00 by Camille_S
Fabrice Delon, the “Graines de Boss” CEO, talks about his project and his plans to expand to Mauritius. He encourages local companies which are less than 5 years old to apply as of December 1st, 2022.

Please introduce yourself.

I am Fabrice Delon, the founder of “Graines de Boss” since 2004.

What is "Graines de Boss"? Can you explain the concept to Mauritians and residents?

"Graines de Boss" is an entrepreneurs' contest organized in partnership with TV channel M6 over the last 18 years. The official launch took place on Capital and is renewed every year on the channel; it is sponsored by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. I mention a contest, but it is actually a network, a platform, and an opportunity to connect entrepreneurs, executives, mentors and, of course, investors.

The program works in 3 different phases. First, the entrepreneurs submit their pitch with a business plan and a video article. Then, executives can access the pitches by sector of activity and evaluate the different projects online. A score out of 25 is awarded to the candidate with the strong and weak points so that they can have the opportunity to improve. Finally, investors can view the projects by sector of activity and by rating. I like to compare this to the Tripadvisor platform since the investor can filter their search according to the rating, represented by the number of stars. The more the project is rated, the more interested investors and mentors will be. "Graines de Boss" gathers an average of 2000 candidates for each edition.

How did you come up with the idea of creating this contest?

Back in 1999, I won a competition myself, and I had the opportunity to choose a mentor from the jury panel members. I chose Nicolas de Tavernost, who at the time was the General Manager of M6 and who has since become the Chairman of the television channel. He was my mentor, he helped me to develop my business, and I was lucky enough to go to M6 every month to receive his advice and learn more about entrepreneurship. In 2004, I proposed to him to help future entrepreneurs, as he had done with me, by creating a competition where bosses would have to be convinced to give time and advice to young entrepreneurs. He accepted, and "Graines de Boss" was born on Capital.

In 2019, at the request of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, we deployed the concept in cities to develop their economic attractiveness. In 2021, we rolled out in 3 cities, then 6 in 2022, and 15 more are planned in 2023. In this context, there is a dedicated platform with a final jury for each city as well.

What does the "Graines de Boss" project mean to you?

"Graines de Boss" is the continuation of my personal story. I want to bring goodwill to start-ups and help entrepreneurs feel less isolated. The aim is to provide a supportive approach for all those who wish to embark on an entrepreneurial path.

"Graines de Boss" is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to access an unprecedented network, meet people, and for us to create connections between entrepreneurs, investors, and managers.

What made you choose to broaden the concept to Mauritius?

Mauritius is a gateway to the African continent, where entrepreneurship is very active. We believe that there is great potential and strong growth here. Our objective is to allow Mauritian entrepreneurs to benefit from a mentor and the "Graines de Boss" network.

We hope that this foreign version of the program will be a success and will open up new perspectives for development on the African continent as well as internationally.

We are working with Jean-Baptiste Salmon, who is currently our main contact here on the island. Everything happened very quickly. We also found our first partner, Vivo Energy, which allowed us to open up to the country and create a platform for Mauritius, which will be available soon (www.grainesdeboss/mauritius). Vivo Energy was indeed launching its foundation, and it made sense for them to partner with "Graines de Boss". We hope to find other partners to communicate more in Mauritius.

What are the registration procedures?

The "Graine de Boss" concept is supported by an online platform where applications are submitted, evaluated, and consulted. The Mauritian platform will be accessible from December 1st, 2022.

To participate as an entrepreneur, you must have a company that is less than 5 years old with a validated business model, a successful product or service test on a market, as well as initial customers generating a turnover.

A space on the platform is also dedicated to mentors and investors who will be able to consult the projects.

Can you please remind us of the contest dates in Mauritius and how to register?

Registration on the "Graines de Boss" Mauritius platform will be open from December 1st, 2022, until February 28, 2023. In March, we will open the platform to mentors from the island, who will be identified by our sponsor partner Vivo Energy, to access and evaluate the online projects. In April, we will select the best-rated entries, which will then be able to pitch to Vivo Energy, and a winner will be selected.

A premium offer is also available for mentors not only to benefit from events, parties and dinners for networking purposes but also to access the scores and evaluations if you are a business angel.

What are the prizes for the winners?

The winners will gain access to the corporate network along with commercial contracts and funding via investors and business angels (500 million euros have already been invested in 228 winners over the last 18 years). "Graines de Boss" will also provide media visibility as the competition is broadcast on M6 in Capital.

Who will the GDB Mauritius jury panel be composed of?

The panel will be constituted in the coming weeks with the help of our partner, Vivo Energy.

What are your views on the business environment for entrepreneurs in Mauritius? Do you think it is favorable to start-ups? (talking of the potential of Mauritian start-ups, especially).

There is a great potential in Mauritius, with a flourishing economy, especially in the digital sector or in the hotel industry. I think there are indeed things to do. We hope to discover some exciting nuggets, interesting projects and entrepreneurs who are ready to reveal themselves and make their ideas and projects known to the general public. The “Graines de Boss" platform in Mauritius is intended for them.

Isn't a smaller market a barrier in general for start-ups?

I don't think that a smaller market can be a problem. If you take the example of small towns in France, you will see that it has worked very well. We started in a small town in France with 16,000 inhabitants, and it was a great success. The winner received a 10-million-euro financing plan to extract low-mineralized water from the ground in a small provincial town. We are sure that we will discover great projects thanks to the entrepreneurial talents of Mauritians.

What, in your opinion, is the key to being a successful entrepreneur abroad?

I think the key for any entrepreneur is to know how to have the right people around you and to build a solid network. One should not be afraid to disclose their idea and to be coached by a mentor, as was the case for me.

Especially abroad, you need to be humble and not be afraid or reluctant to adapt your services and products to the market you are in. Obviously, you should listen carefully to what your partners are looking for. Be inspired by a solidarity approach, be benevolent and, if possible, be oriented by a CSR approach.

Finally, what are your future plans for the contest? A worldwide expansion, maybe?

We would like to develop "Graines de Boss" internationally and share the network with as many entrepreneurs as possible to help them with their projects. We have a lot to learn from everyone's ideas to create the world of today and tomorrow.

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