From July-December, 2020, Virginie Bezot took part in our Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange program as a so called New Entrepreneur and worked with Masterplan Engineering lead by Julia and Alexandre Davin, a Munich based AI company offering solutions for medicine, production, automotive and marketing. Virginie herself is founder of AKNIA.EU. Her start-up provides services to sustainable and innovative companies to accelerate their international growth. We talked with Virginie about her entrepreneurial path and her experiences in Munich.
Virginie, please tell us more about yourself and your entrepreneurial background
I am Virginie Bezot, I have been an investor for seven years in different types of assets, like real estate, equities, and bonds. I am an entrepreneur since the January 2020. My company AKNIA.EU is specialized in business engineering, gathering four business lines: business development, international expansion, the introduction of innovative solutions, and financing.
Why did you choose this path? What motivates you in your entrepreneurial journey?
I was close to the world of start-ups. Evolving in this environment gives me the feeling to be fulfilled. What motivates me is to support fields that I consider important for society and to have a positive impact on the life of people. I enjoy being surrounded by passionate experts and creating synergies to go further in complex projects.
How did you prepare for your start-up journey? What is the tool set that you had to pack in your start-up bag to accomplish your goals?
I was supported by the Versailles Grand Parc business incubator. I have participated in different mentoring programs with the MEDEF (the largest employer federation in France), PWN Global (an international network of female entrepreneurs), and the Suzanne Michaux association in Versailles. I feel very lucky because I have benefitted from the expertise of several adorable mentors, even exceptional ones.
Moreover, I have spent five months in Munich within the framework of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs ‘programme in a start-up specialized in artificial intelligence. Only 25 French entrepreneurs per year benefit from it, so I thank the Chamber of commerce of Paris and the International Chamber of Commerce for having selected me.
To accomplish your goals, you have to create yourself a virtuous ecosystem, in which people inspire you and make you grow, to find complementary skills to move forward always further. It is a process that usually takes time. Each experience makes you progress and generates its share of emotions. So pack in your start-up bag energy and self-control.
What special challenges did you face as a female entrepreneur compared to your male colleagues?
As a female entrepreneur, my challenges were to find a support network. People that are willing to actively listen to me, to take the time to understand the bottom of my mind and to help me to move forward giving me some tools, contacts or constructive feedback and pieces of advice.
An obstacle I had to tackle compared to my male colleagues is to face repetitive condescending attitudes. In some extreme cases, it makes my speech ridiculous while the content is relevant.
You worked as a New Entrepreneur at Masterplan Engineering as part of Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. Can you briefly describe your daily work?
My recurring work was to get in touch with the leads or prescribers of partner companies and to measure their levels of digitalization. Afterwards, I had to identify the most suitable solution and follow the relationship until the launch of a prototype.
How did you benefit from your exchange within the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program?
I have spent five months in Munich to support Masterplan Engineering in its business development. My main task was to introduce predictive maintenance solutions in the French market. At the end, a new customer portfolio was created and new opportunities of prototypes were found. Our collaboration allowed us to be part of a professional organization that we could have not joined alone.
Thanks to this experience I could refine my business model. I know more about the market, and my needs to establish partnerships are more precise.
Munich offers a wonderful start-up ecosystem. It is an international city in the heart of Europe, where you can easily develop a worldwide network with highly qualified professionals. Its economic structure is diverse and includes an exceptional industrial environment and many companies providing advanced technologies. I was pleased to discover UnternehmerTUM, one of the major centres in Europe for innovation and start-ups, with more than 50 high-growth technology start-ups each year.
Thank you very much for the interview!