Meet Startup @TW

French accelerator targets Taiwan and here's what it's looking for

French telecommunication giant Orange is building a network of startups in North Asia through its accelerator program, in turn helping the head office develop its services such as e-commerce.

The telecom firm with 263 million clients in multiple countries picked 14 startups to showcase at a mid-October demonstration day in Taipei. They came from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

That event was held by 28-year-old Orange's accelerator Orange Fab Asia to show what the startups had learned from mentoring and business support.

Orange Fab Asia shows startups how to pitch business and sell products in France and Africa, two places where the telecom company has strong presence. They also learn how to work with Orange itself.

The accelerator looks for companies with bright ideas, intellectual ability and the potential to collaborate with Orange.

Orange Fab Asia particularly helps new firms that will fit into Orange's B2B and B2C e-commerce channels.

At a broader level, Orange uses the knowhow of accelerated companies to stay up to date on new technology.

Orange Fab bolsters startups in 12 countries, including Israel, the United States and four in Africa. Its three-month acceleration programs have helped 180 startups.

It accelerates small companies through presentation coaching, specialist consulting and demonstrations in foreign countries, ideally through sponsorship.

Flexwave, a Taiwan-based solar module company, was accelerated all the way to Paris. Not surprisingly, the firm's general manager Hsu Min-hung called Orange Fab "one of the best of its kind."

Flexwave met investors and specialists from successful startups, Hsu said. The firm learned how to make pitches and sell products in France and Africa. It also picked up tips on how to collaborate with Orange if needed.

"Orange offers as a truly global perspective that few accelerators could do the same in Taiwan," Hsu said.

The telecom company's mother ship reviews the startups under Orange Fab Asia for possible business links.

Taiwan-based virtual reality develop iStaging landed a partnership with Orange as part of the acceleration program.

To join the accelerator, startups should target the core business of Orange, which is telecom services, iStaging founder and CEO Johnny Lee said.

"This is the best place for networking," he said. "Big companies sometimes started from collaboration rather than direct investing."

Japan-based Blicam, a camera that takes photos with a wink, learned about ins and outs of the European market through Orange Fab Asia. Blicam is in its early seed stage of funding.

"They (Orange Fab Asia) can introduce big companies to us, and also from their own partners," Blicam CEO Shota Takase said. "We can also meet startups outside Japan."