#ProjectWeek is an inter-school event for the IONIS Group, which has a thousand students working together, coming from 3 of the group’s schools (Epitech, ISEG Marketing & Communication School and e-artsup) on 7 city campuses in France. #ProjectWeek 2017 was the fourth edition of the event. In 2015 La Poste Groupe provided the event’s theme of the “postman and mailbox for connected letters”. Last year Bouygues Construction focused on questions relating to sustainable urban development. For this year the group vente-privee has put its business concerns in front of the students’ analytical eye.


Design Thinking

Teams of young multi-disciplinary students were put to work on 7 urban campuses connected to IONIS Education Group: Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Paris, Strasbourg and Toulouse. They worked on a design-thinking problem, a subject directly related to their studies as well as their profiles from the fields of marketing (ISEG Marketing & Communication School), technology (Epitech) and design (e-artsup).  This pooling of specific skills was done to ensure the viability, reliability and desirability of the projects. During one week, the teams developed their ideas by meeting with mentors and experts who could offer them advice and show them good practices.

Vente-priveee, the #ProjectWeek 2917 partner and much more

Ilan Benhaim, founding partner of the vente-privee Group and head of the group’s innovation strategy, just unveiled the theme for #ProjectWeek 2017 on the morning of March 13. Besides this multi-school “innovation operation”, the vente-privee group has joined forces with IONIS Education Group on a larger scale: in September Ilan Benhaim visited the IONIS Education Group Paris – Sud campus to announce the future opening of the Lab’ vente-privee.  “These young students will take on the task of stimulating innovation at vente-privee by creating POCs, meaning the well-known Proofs of Concept,” he explained. He is in charge of discovering the best French and European start-ups that specialise in the sectors of e-commerce and fashion, areas in which vente-privee has seen great success. “We look very closely at this ecosystem in order to always provide excellent services to our brand partners.”

The 2017 theme of #ProjectWeek

Ilan Benhaim introduced the theme of #ProjectWeek 2017 to the students, entrusting it to their creativity and energy, while explaining the scope and objective of this mission to the students who were present at IONIS Group’s design and digital tech campus, Paris Centre, as well as those on the different campuses, via video streaming, “The objective of vente-privee is to increase online sales among its clientele and to optimise the conversion rate. To achieve this goal, you will propose a project that aims at developing or even reinventing the buying experience for vente-privee members, while taking into account the sales event aspect and their short durations (3 to 4 days).”

The roll-out

For the first 7 days of #ProjectWeek, the participating students first came up with an idea and then developed it according to the 4 focal points of the Business Model Canvas. This first stage ended on Sunday, March 19, a fateful hour that Epitech students knew as the important time when they had to hand in their projects. On Monday, March 20, the best projects were selected by the relevance of their value proposition, their originality and the thoroughness and practicality of their model.


First round

Once this first review of the projects were completed, the chosen groups were informed that they would have had to work within the framework of well-known start-up methodologies. If the students from the Epitech class of 2020 still had questions, they could ask the students from the class of 2019, who were working at the same time on their EIP bootstrap for the Forward event (2 weeks of entrepreneurial creativity), and the class of 2020 was sure to receive a quick answer…


Final selection

After working an additional week, the chosen groups were ready to stand before the critical, but kind eye of a pedagogic jury on Monday, March 27. 8 finalists were then selected to go into the finals of #ProjectWeek 2017 with a team from each city, except for Paris, which had 2 groups. They pitched the final version of their projects at the vente-privee Group headquarters in Saint-Denis on March 30.


In the same way that Epitech requires its students to bootstrap their Epitech Innovative Projects, the school itself implements the agility of the “test / iterate” and, more generally, “lean start-up” methods in its own projects. Thus, Forward (FWD), these 2 weeks of entrepreneurial creativity, remains focused while spreading its wings ever wider for its third edition. This is also the reason why Maddyness is a partner of this 2017 edition. #EpitechForward 2017 began the Monday 13 and ends Friday, March 24.

Mobilization of the ecosystem

#EpitechForward 2017 remained focused by planning 6 conferences for the first week, from Monday 13 to Friday 17 March, including 4 conferences dedicated to the Business Model Canvas alone, the first of which was introduced by Emmanuel Carli, Director General of the school, in the company of Alexander Strzelewicz, who has recently raised 2 million euros with his Keymetrics project. At the same time, FWD 2017 opened itself to all the developments in entrepreneurship and start-up methodology. The 12 Epitech Schools invited numerous representatives of their respective ecosystems to mentor those groups that are conducting projects. In all, that represented no less than 200 members of our “start-up nation”.

Business Model Canvas and Innovation

As in previous years, FWD aims to acculturate third-year students of the Epitech curriculum to the Business Model Canvas – which this year concerned the Class of 2019. As this class will be leaving for internships on April 1 and then take off abroad for their fourth year, FWD marked the end of the first stage of their Innovation Track.

The Epitech Innovation Track

This Innovation Track begins with the “Piscine Moonshot”, which creates the best possible conditions to hatch project ideas. This is the “ideation sequence”, which is followed by the “prototyping sequence” and ends with Forward – 2 weeks of entrepreneurial creativity. In addition to conferences, all groups of the Class of 2019 met at least one of the entrepreneurs and startuppers who are massively present this year in the 12 schools of the Epitech network.

200 mentors in the 12 cities

This year, the Class of 2019 indeed had the chance to meet and benefit from the feedback of some 200 mentors distributed among the 12 cities, each meeting with a handful of EIP groups to challenge them in order to refine their pitches. The best projects (elected by their peers) had 2 days to improve their pitches before presenting them on Friday, March 24, before a quality jury composed of eminent persons from outside the school in each city of the Epitech network.

Mentors and mentoring

For the mentor, mentoring means asking questions, even “challenging” the members of the project when they show weaknesses, and it is normal that they should be perfectible at this stage, and to  cover the broad spectrum of the project within the framework of the lean start-up and Business Model Canvas – the idea, the product, the market fit, etc. It is also of the greatest interest for the students to meet entrepreneurs: these latter have already confronted their projects with the reality of the market.

Feedback from the turf

This “feedback” from the field is essential to the start-up methodology, which is different from the launch of conventional companies, especially when it concerns a startup with high technological content and therefore with strong potential in terms of “scalability”. However, the “mantras” so dear to startuppers, like “think big, start small, act fast” or “start now, plan later”, or even “if you fail, fail fast”, etc. are often still new concepts to students in the third year of the Epitech curriculum.

Joy and trembling

Creating a start-up is an adventure, with its highs (raising funds, for example) and lows: in France, nearly 90% of all startups fail. These conferences and this mentoring program intend to provide a whole set of good practices aimed at placing participants among the remaining 10%…

The conference program dedicated to the Business Model Canvas

  • This entrepreneurial adventure was the subject of the first conference led by Willy Braun (co-founder of Dafni). It took place on Monday, the 13th of March.
  • The second, on Tuesday, 14 was led by Sylvain Bureau, Associate Professor at ESCP Europe and responsible for the Entrepreneurship Chair and Option E of the same school. Its subject was the heart of a project; product or service « the value proposition ».
  • The object of the Wednesday, 15th March conference was « Resources » according to the Business Model Canvas, including both human resources and the technical means; with Jean Lebrument, in charge. An alumnus of Epitech’s Class of 2016, Jean is the co-founder and CTO of Brigad; a start-up that has just raised over 2 million euros.
  • Marc Rougier, co-founder of Scoop.it and a Partner at ELAIA Partners  spoke about acquisition, transformation and marketing- another crucial factor when developing a project.

  • Stéphanie Hospital, co-founder of the OneRagtime Investment fund developed all the modalities ranging from « seed internships » to Series A, B, etc.
  • Speaking of raising funds, Alexandre Strzelewicz had also something to talk about with his recent fund raising. It is with his collaboration that Emmanuel Carli has introduced those 2 weeks dedicated to entrepreneurship with a strong technological component.

  • As for, Octave Klaba, he brought those 2 weeks to a close: the founder, owner, Chairman and CEO of OVH, a company that needs no further presentation, explained to the entire assembly precisely how to move from a startup to a large group – what others call scalability.