Workshop Supplies and Agenda
Workshop Supplies and Agenda

I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop in Angers, France. Angers is a sister city of Austin dating back to 2010. Not only is Angers a sister city, Austin has 19 other sister cities. Austin Angers Creative, AAC, is a group whose mission is to support awareness and growth of Angers artists in and beyond Austin and continue to strengthen creative collaboration between Austin and Angers. ACC promotes the development of Angers and Austin music, film, food & wine and tech industries by leveraging the existing “foodie” cultures to expose mission and events to a broader audience and through collaboration with the city governments to develop long-term structures and support systems.

AAC invited me to Angers for the screening of Correspondance as part of the Premiers Plans film festival. As I researched more about Angers, I came to realize that they have an impressive tech and startup scene, supported by the national and local governments. Angers is a part of La French Tech as Angers IOT French Tech, and many of the startups are focused on IOT. In fact, there is a for-profit IOT commercialization hub called, Cite De L’objet Connecte Angers, that supports young ventures bridge the gap between prototyping and mass production.

After speaking with Bruno from AAC about running a workshop in Angers, he introduced me to the great folks at ALDEV. ALDEV is Angers Loire Métropole’s economic development agency. ALDEV was extremely helpful especially Yoann Digue. Even though my trip came quickly on the coattails of CES, Yoann expertly organized a workshop at WeForge and brought in folks from Cite De L’objet Connecte Anger, Angers French Tech, and The Village by CA.

Ganaelle Guiter, head of international relations at the Angers mayor’s office, prepared a comprehensive itinerary for me include a day of tech meetings before my workshop. I met with ALDEV in the morning at a lovely restaurant called L’ail des ours. The team brought me up to speed on all the initiates, and it was great to hear about operation fox and the village and thank Yoann for all his hard work.

After breakfast, I met with Angers French Tech cooperative director Yannick Bourdin at Café Étienne. Yannick was a pleasure to chat with and had come with many questions about my innovation workshops and Austin’s entrepreneur community. I enjoyed hearing about Anger French Tech and their focus on IOT. They are still making some formative decisions on governess and are planning a move into the old post office. Very exciting!

Angers team

After coffee, we headed to We Forge, the venue hosting my workshop. We Forge is a company that offers concrete solutions for the development of entrepreneurship and local initiatives, supporting young companies from implementation of their solutions all the way to commercial successTheir mission is to create work conditions and solutions that are propitious to the hatching of successful projects: offices, companionship, networking, and investment funds. We Forge was extremely hospitable and even offered me a desk anytime I’m in Angers. 🙂

Company space
We Forge

The workshop format is a familiar one, I’ve given this workshop many times. It is a condensed version of the 1-day train the trainer session. I’m hosting the same format during in Austin for the Austin Design Sprint Community Workshop Series on February 22nd at Capital Factory in Mobility X.

I rapidly led the attendees through all five stages of the Design Sprint process, teaching how the various steps fit together and why and how they work. I shared tips and tricks for facilitating a Design Sprint and for incorporating these techniques into everyday meetings.

The workshop format was activity-based. Attendees put pen to paper, worked with others, and gained experience with all the sprint activities. I ended with Q&A, allowing participants to learn from my experience running many Design Sprints with some of the world’s most exciting startups.

Design Sprint workshop
Design Sprint workshop
Douglas Ferguson
Design Sprint workshop

After the workshop, Yoann had arranged for an aperitif so that we could all meet and converse a bit more. I had the opportunity to talk at length with Laurent Aguenier, technical director for Cite De L’objet Connecte Angers. The “Connected Object City” supports start-ups, SMEs, ETIs and large groups at all stages of their IoT projects, from idea to industrialization. They are helping to ensure a future of IOT In Angers

I also spent some time chatting with Elodie Douaglin. director of digital innovation mission, coordinator of the Operation Fox Accelerator. Operation Fox is a program for early-stage ventures that includes funding and consists of a 5-week program. Each cohort consists of about ten startups.

Once the “foxes” graduate from operation fox, they are eligible to participate in Le Village. Le Village supports later stage startups and is at the heart of Angers entrepreneurship. Angers startups, SMEs and large groups are united in a dynamic of open-innovation and exchange. Partners include We Forge & Crédit Agricole Anjou Maine.

Station F by Aymeric Penven, of ShakeUp Factory

I traveled back to Paris on my way home to Austin and was hosted at Station F by Aymeric Penven, of ShakeUp Factory and visited Le Laptop for a nice chat with Pauline Thomas. Le laptop has 2 locations in Paris. One on Rue Geoffroy L’Angevin and is a creative space set up for workshops and events, while the other is on rue Arthur Rozier and is a co-working, gallery, and smaller collaborative space. Pauline and I met at the rue Arthur Rozier location and had a great chat ranging from workshop techniques to content marketing. Stay tuned for more about Le Laptop and Pauline, they are hosting Jake Knapp in Paris this summer and are starting a collective on medium to which I plan to contribute.

If you are in or near Austin, come visit us at the Austin Design Sprint meetup. Each month we have a guest speaker share their experience participating in a Design Sprint . If you would like to be a future speaker please email me.

Design Sprint Day 1
Design Sprint Day 1