Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Nest has now set up operations in Paris.

The development follows on the heels of the privately-held startup incubator and investor establishing an office in Nairobi in July. Nest’s global reach now spans six cities including London, Singapore and San Francisco.

The company was founded in 2010 by CEO Simon Squibb.

“We could have announced it earlier, but France is pretty much on vacation the entire month of August,” joked Ethan Pierse, who manages the Paris branch.


Ethan Pierse, Managing Partner, Nest VC

Pierse met Squibb in Paris, when what was meant to be a casual coffee meeting turned into hours of chatting.

Both were entrepreneurs with years of experience in branding and project development. Pierse, who had relocated from the States a decade ago to France, was well-tuned to the startup scene there. With aligned values, they saw an opportunity to work together.

Nest aims to nurture a visible and active community in Paris, and a similar corporate acceleration programme to the one in Hong Kong.

“France has a tremendous startup scene that is not well known outside of the region. So much of it goes to Berlin, or to the US, so it doesn’t seem like it’s coming from France,” said Pierse. (Sic)

Nest currently operates three 12-week mentor programmes in Hong Kong, with insurer AIA, DBS Bank and carmaker Infiniti. The programmes are designed to advance startups in the healthtech, fintech and smart cities sectors, involving mentorship and educational components before culminating in a public demo day.

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“Sectors like fintech, healthtech, IoT and renewable energy, transportation or luxury — these all also have the potential to be big in Paris. The idea is to provide a [cross-geographical] network. So if a startup is looking to develop in Asia or Nairobi, we would provide business opportunities through our network,” Pierse told e27. 

The benefits of having corporate VC backing

The accelerator programmes that Nest runs are free, a model that will continue in Paris.

“They’re free for startups because our partnerships with the corporates allow that. It’s possible to run an accelerator without taking money from people,” said Pierse.

This is through working with corporations, such as the company’s association with DBS. The DBS accelerator offers mentorship from industry experts, a dedicated co-working space in Wanchai and access to the DBS and Nest ecosystem.

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“Every piece of equity you take from a startup complicates their ability to make funds. It’s not just about having the corporate name on the accelerator. The reality is that corporations can bring their expertise to many subjects. Our idea is this: if we fall in love with your startup, we will make it a successful business. We are going to put money into it, and then we are going to find ways to put more money into it,” he concluded.