3 French internet titans launch a European startup school

In France, it seems January is always full of surprises. This time last year, new seed funds Kima Ventures and Jaina Capital were announcing their plans to fill a gaping void in the French investment landscape.  And now the same French internet titans (more or less) are announcing the launch of the Ecole Européenne des Métiers de l’Internet (EEMI), a European internet startup school set to kick-off in fall 2011.

The news first broke in Paris Match (not traditionally known for tech news, but hey) in December. The initiative comes from the founders of three of the most well known companies in France: Meetic (Marc Simoncini), Vente-Privée (Jacques-Antoine Granjon) and Iliad (Xavier Niel) – who knew they wanted to launch something together but not necessarily for profit (phew!). And their three profiles should work rather nicely together, given Niel’s technical background, Simoncini’s marketing strength and Granjon’s expertise in e-commerce. They’ve teamed up with Alain Malvoisin, who specializes in education, to launch this school dedicated entirely to training various types of internet professionals.

Starting in February, anyone post-Baccalauréat (more or less the equivalent of a high school diploma) will be able to apply and only 250-350 students will be accepted per year. The team is obviously looking to select only the best of the best applicants, who either demonstrate high motivation or some type of remarkable expertise. The location of the school and the annual tuition fee have not yet been officially revealed, although we can guess that the price tag will probably be in-line with other private schools in France (so roughly €5,000-€8,000 per year). And while the team is strictly French, their aim is to be pan-European; it is even possible that it grow into something similar to the model used by European Business School ESCP-EAP, where students have the possibility to move to a new ESCP-EAP campus in a new European city as part of their program.

Ultimately, the 3-year EEMI program is meant to get students more interested in various web-related careers – which should naturally help produce more entrepreneurs and train students to join startups. And while they’re definitely not aiming to compete with the likes of engineering schools, some have already pointed out that there may not be much difference between this initiative and other specialized schools in France that train students for world wide web careers. Oh, but then again, the other schools aren’t backed not backed by prestigious French internet gurus.

For now, EEMI has gained a lot of interest and many are wondering if it will have a similar positive effect on the local entrepreneurial community as the seed funds that were launched last year. Many (including myself) have often argued that the French educational system isn’t exactly entrepreneur-friendly (don’t get me started) and this may be one of the ways to help change that. Then again, it does seem kind of ashame that it is a private school and that students need to find several thousand euros to pay tuition every year. Ok, this probably seems like chump change to anyone who has paid tuition in the US and may also be quite a good deal if it turns out that Niel, Granjon and Simoncini actually teach these classes themselves (and eventually invest in the startups produced). It somewhat reminds me of the Founder Institute and if funding gets involved (not unthinkable considering that Niel, Granjon and Simoncini are all A-list business angels in France), one could maybe even compare it to Y Combinator…but I digress…

I guess before we jump the gun and talk about EEMI’s founders having the potential to rival Paul Graham across the Atlantic we should first get the good ol’ internet school a website.

Edit: The logo has been modified since the original publishing of this article.