Facebook to launch start-up incubator in world’s largest start-up campus

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has unveiled plans for a multi-million-euro investment in the company’s first ‘start-up garage’

  • By Kim Darrah | Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Station F, where the Facebook Start-up Garage will be housed, is in Paris

Facebook is seizing an opportunity to invest in the entrepreneurial spirit of aspiring start-ups with a ‘Start-up Garage’ in a vast new Parisian start-up campus, which is due to open in April. On January 18, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced her plans for the programme, which aims to offer promising start-ups the opportunity to develop under Facebook’s expertise over a rolling six-month cycle. According to a press release, the Start-up Garage will involve a “multi-million-euro commitment over a number of years”.

Under the scheme, Facebook employees are to provide weekly workshops for the chosen start-up teams, passing on their knowledge in tech development, design, marketing and UI. The start-ups will also be provided with desk space for their six-month stints, with 80 desks in the space earmarked for the incubator.

The Paris space where the programme will take place, named Station F, is described on its website as “the only start-up campus gathering a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem under one roof”. This ecosystem consists of a 34,000 sq metre space with over 3,000 desks, as well as several event spaces, one ‘maker space’, and 24-hour access. Further plans already underway involve the development of a co-living space for entrepreneurs, providing 100 shared apartments, due to open in 2018.

Facebook employees are to provide weekly workshops for the chosen start-up teams, passing on their knowledge in tech development, design, marketing and UI

“We’re thrilled to be a founding partner and start the Facebook Start-up Garage here”, Sandberg said. “Paris has always been a place where people come together to break new ground”, she added.

Several start-ups have already been selected for the programme, including: Mapstr, a location-tagging app; Onecub, a digital dashboard for personal statistics; and Karos, a carpooling app. This is not to say that the programme is fully booked, as the company is actively appealing to data-driven startups to apply for the scheme through the Start-up Garage Facebook page.

“My guess is that we’re going to learn even more from working with you than you working with us”, Sandberg said. While Facebook will not have any equity in the start-ups involved in the programme, it will be able to benefit from spotting talent early, as well as having inside knowledge on upcoming ideas and prospective acquisitions.

This move by Facebook emphasises that companies are becoming increasingly willing to invest in the right kind of ecosystem for the development of new ideas. Such an entrepreneurial space would not look out of place in Silicon Valley, but this move by Facebook underscores the growing influence of Europe as an entrepreneurial hub.