Letter to the STATION F Community

By Roxanne Varza, STATION F's Director

Dear wonderful STATION F resident,

We are experiencing a rather unusual time, with the global spread of Covid-19 impacting every one of us. I know that many of you are currently experiencing tough challenges and I wanted to thank you for being so supportive of the community throughout this event. It’s moments like these that often define us and show us what’s truly important. Now, as we get ready to welcome you back to campus (date and info coming shortly), it should be no surprise that things may not be exactly as they were before – which is why I wanted to take a moment to share with you the opportunity this presents for the STATION F community.

The opportunity is more than just business

Since the beginning of this crisis, startups have shown just how much they bring to our society in times of need. Many companies moved quickly to provide products and services for the medical industry – but also many other solutions that enabled us to live and work comfortably through confinement. We’ve seen huge uptake in online and digital services, whether it be remote working solutions, education platforms, online delivery, or even health and entertainment. This is why there has probably never been a better time to create an online business. The technological jump we’ve experienced in the past few weeks presents a huge opportunity.

But this crisis is more than just a business opportunity. In many ways, it presents an opportunity for humanity. In many locations, we’ve seen air quality improve and have witnessed incredible gestures of kindness, things we would have never imagined. It’s been humbling to see this even within the STATION F community. Many of you offered help to others in a variety of different ways. They say that with every crisis people have a short memory and old habits die hard. It’s important for us to hold onto this mindset even after the crisis has passed. 

Focus on sustainable growth, not unicorn status

Over the last few years, we’ve seen more and more entrepreneurs chase valuation before value. Everyone was obsessed with fast growth and the unicorn title. However, the current situation shows us that it’s more important to build a durable, sustainable and recession-proof business, like many of you did, rather than a unicorn at all costs. What does it mean to be recession-proof? It means to provide real value, or a service that is “sticky” enough to withstand hard times when spending and budgets get cut. It also means having a cash runway that can withstand another crisis. It’s time to stop chasing crazy valuations and go after sustainable growth instead.

Selecting all startups on values-based criteria

We’ve always been strong supporters of values-driven businesses at STATION F, whether it’s about inclusion & diversity, sharing or impact. This is because we believe that startups are in many ways building the world of tomorrow – and it’s essential to put people and the planet first. Yet, this crisis is in many ways a wake-up call for us all. We think it’s important for all startups – yes, all 1000 – to be values-driven. We’ll be adding more values-based selection criteria to our two in-house programs and work with our 30 different programs to help them do the same by the end of the year. 

This is a community – let’s act like one

At STATION F, our number one resource is not our beautiful building or the numerous Presidents that walk through the door – it’s actually our incredible community (yes, you!). So many talented people coming from a variety of backgrounds and countries. Yet, we often feel we don’t use the full potential of our community. 

This may sound weird but when you come back to STATION F, let’s act like we’re still in crisis. We were blown away by some of the kind and helpful gestures we saw from you in this time of need, let’s not let that go to waste: don’t shy away from meeting others, and leverage the knowledge of those around us. But more importantly, we should all offer to help, share and contribute as much as we can. In months to come, we’ll be reinforcing our community values in order to bring us all closer together.

STATION F is unique because of you

Many people come from around the world to visit STATION F and often tell us that it is unique and one-of-a-kind. This is because of *you* and what you contribute to making STATION F what it is. I want to thank you for being a part of this journey. I also want to thank you for sharing and upholding our values of inclusion & diversity, sharing and impact. Now, let’s now hold ourselves to the highest standards we possibly can. Let’s continue to dream and build the world we want to see tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

Looking forward to welcoming you back to campus,

Roxanne