Up-e : the failure of the concept of start-up market place
The company from Sophia Antipolis, in which the whole new generation believed, should avoid the winding-up by trying to find a rescuer.
As other stars of the Net-economy (Clust.com, Alidoo.com, Stoody, Wakama, Redgift, and about ten others) the start-up from Sophia Antipolis Up-e did not resist the e-krach of April 2000. Up-e had been even more touched by the bursting of the 'Internet bubble' as it had opened in April 2000 with a concept of start-up market place. That's the first resounding failure experienced by the new economy in Sophia Antipolis.Suspension of payments since late DecemberAs a result, despite a notoriety success, it did not succeeded in raising funds. It didn't even managed to raise funds for itself and to make sure for some months of tranquillity, just to wait until the recover. And if the Commercial Court, which has tried its case last January 17th, should not pronounce the winding-up, that's because the company is still negotiating with other rescuers and because it could go on under a new form.But the Up-e 2000 model, in a start-up booming period, has lived. Since late November, it's getting worse. Then, a massive layoff process has been engaged. It is scheduled that early February there won't be any employees left (during flourishing time, the company was composed of almost ten people). Olivier Mercoli, the chief executive, left the company in the middle of December and is now in Paris where he's still looking for a rescuer. A more serious problem late December 2000 : the company suspended the payments and seemed to be heading towards a pure and simple winding-up.The 'first Thursday' adventure in Sophia AntipolisWhat happen today to Up-e is very symbolic of the new deal of the Net-economy. Founded in March 2000, the start-up has hold the aspirations of a whole generation of new entrepreneurs (see article 'Up-e.com : daughter of a start-up'). The point was to get project holders in touch with investors.In the meantime it has created the appointments of the new economy. Each first Thursday of the month, it gathered together all of those who were attracted by Internet and the great changes caused by the NITC at the Sun City Café of Sophia Antipolis. The company also organized these convivial appointments in Paris, in the same time and the same themes, in which everyone was 'networking'.A historical page of the new economyThe success, as far as notoriousness is concerned, has been immediate. Very mediatized at the national level, Up-e, in a booming period for start-ups, has seen plenty of projects flooding in. Within nine months of activity, the company has received around 4.000 ones. Investors were very interested in it as well. But, in term of efficiency, this was an obvious failure : not even one single fund raising has been done for start-up projects which some of them were interesting even if a lot of them were part of the 'nointerest.com' style.In the meantime, the e-krach of April had changed the deal and had make investors much more overcautious. An attempt has been done to find a new market with Up-merger which aimed at mergers and acquisitions. The principle was the same : getting in touch through the Web site. But the storm was howling on that field as well since the end of last year.While waiting for rescuers, Up-e should try to go on slowly on the innovation niche, rather than on the 'dotcoms'' which has collapsed. Anyway, that will be the end of the start-up electronic market place. A page of the story of the new economy is turning. Already.