PSL-Pépite: training for student entrepreneurs to boost start-up projects


With 40 projects supported, made by about 60 student entrepreneurs, PSL-Pépite is celebrating its 3rd anniversary with the graduation of 20 student-entrepreneurs this November 29th, under the patronage of Axelle Lemaire, former Secretary of State in charge of digital development. Focus on success stories of PSL-Pépite, a flagship PSL program for student companies.

PSL-Pépite is one of 29 student clusters for innovation, transfer and entrepreneurship implemented in France in 2014, due to the initiative of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. Since its creation, PSL-Pépite supported 138 projects and promoted 77 new companies in sectors as varied as fair trade (Graapz), recruitment (Job’n Roll), ready-to-wear fashion store (Besight, Mon Sauveur), media and communication (Cocy Mag, “TITRE PROVISOIRE”)... These projects were developed during the entrepreneurial training by students from very diverse backgrounds*, helped and supported by a dedicated team.

Training in entrepreneurship as soon as you obtain the bac

From intensive support for a budding project (PSL-Starter) to personalized support for an advanced project, PSL-Pépite adapts to the student's needs. This degree-training course offers the ideal framework for launching successful entrepreneurial ventures (theoretical courses, workshops, conferences, hackathons, business relations ...) with the award of the Student Entrepreneur degree (D2E).

This year, 20 students have received this diploma and were honored to have Axelle Lemaire, former Secretary of State in charge of digital development (2014-2017):


Learn to weave and develop your network

PSL-Pépite offers real opportunities for collaborative work. "The PSL-Lab is a true center of innovation and shared ideas. By working on my start-up there, I came in contact with other student entrepreneurs and could capitalize on their experience with things like legal or marketing issues. It gave a real boost to my productivity and my network!”  said Michael Pontif, founding student-entrepreneur of Iqemusu, a start-up hosted at PSL-Lab, who invites you to discover cuisine differently. Spanning 260 sq.m, PSL-Lab is a coworking space inaugurated in November 2015 by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, as part of the 2014 Participatory Budget project.

PSL-Pépite also helps students establish links during professional workshops between expert tutors and young entrepreneurs: "Experts can bring their knowledge and know-how in their field of activity or on working methodologies, and young entrepreneurs can in return, challenge their ideas: it is a win-win program for all players”, said Jean-Yves Moïse, delegate in charge of the digital development of trades at EDF Commerce.

My work makes sense, I know why I get up every morning and I can do things my way. It's a real motivation to be able to cope with hard knocks! Fati Mrani, founder of the start-up Avekapeti.

At the PSL-Lab, the exchange is continuous between the creators of start-ups, who see in this cohabitation a real opportunity to evolve by finally confronting "similar problems together, receiving support and privileged access from experienced and competent people - we would not have benefited from those resources if we had not followed this training“, said Yaël Dahan, founder of the start-up Reporters, which offers a playbook which is intergenerational, playful and educational.

To become an entrepreneur while being a student: a daring bet?

For Marie Beauchesne, founder of the feminist ready-to-wear fashion label Ypsylone, in any case, the entrepreneurial adventure requires "a mix of realism and a dream". That view is shared by Nicolas Maréchal, tutor and innovation manager for the company EDF : "It is a beautiful adventure to complement traditional courses. Getting started when you are a student is a good opportunity because it's a time when you do not usually have many constraints (family, loans, work ...) and you still have time and energy to embark on a new project”.

Obviously, Jean-Yves Moïse adds, "it can, of course, also be complicated because students still lack experience in areas where they have not had the opportunity to study or practice." All the more reason, for Nicolas Maréchal, to engage in programs like PSL-Pépite: because it is "a real opportunity for student-entrepreneurs to gain experience in these different fields and put chance on their side”. In any case, and even when the project is not successful, "the student will learn a lot of things during this adventure that will serve him throughout his career," says the tutor.

Rentrée 2017 des étudiants PSL Pépite

Some keys to success in an entrepreneurial adventure

Jean-Yves Moïse and Nicolas Maréchal offer some ideas for managing as well as possible this new adventure in the entrepreneurial world: although the creation and development of a project requires a lot of energy and challenge at every moment, create and surround yourself with a good network of collaborators, and partners to progress is a must. Both speak about the importance of defining one's goals according to one or more targets. Because "knowing how to modulate ideas to sell the right product to the right target" is a key success factor, says Jean-Yves Moïse. In the end, do not lose sight of the fact that the customer is the "ultimate decision maker,” insists Nicolas Maréchal.

Above all, you must first find out why you are embarking on such a fascinating adventure. Fati Mrani, founder of start-up Avakapeti, a company that provides home-made and home-cooked products for the office, knows it: "My work makes sense, I know why I get up every morning and I can do things my way. It's a real motivation to be able to cope with hard knocks!”