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Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were the GAFAs. Behind every successful company is an entire organization structured around extensive market research, financing and impactful pitches.

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École Polytechnique, with its X-Up program, has set up a six-month incubation period for "early stage" startups. These startups are those that initiate product development, build a customer base and establish a solid cash flow.

The startups supported are part of the most important industries today: health, energy, finance, industry 4.0, aerospace etc... On May 31, the X incubator will launch the thirteenth edition of its incubation program, X-Up Promo #13, with its pre-incubation period also known as the "sandbox."

"The sandbox is a pre-incubation period that lasts two weeks during which the pre-selected start-ups are challenged and confront their projects with feedback from experts" explains Roberta Camera, head of the X-Up incubation program.

This period is also an opportunity for the X-Up incubator to assess the motivation of the project leaders/entrepreneurs and to decide whether their approach can be supported in a concrete way.

The pre-incubation period is structured on two axes:

Week 1 : Boost your start-up and develop your ecosystem

The first week is an opportunity for the start-ups to work intensively on their respective projects but also offers an opening to the X-Up ecosystem, its history, its services and its team. The entrepreneurs exchange with the X-UP team but also with the coaches of INSKIP, a consultancy for innovators and entrepreneurs who are guided in the areas of strategy, personality development and business development. Through participation in five workshops, start-ups work on their ecosystem, entrepreneurial posture, value proposition, market analysis, and customer discovery techniques. In addition, their business model is challenged by a domain expert, Phillipe Baud. To conclude the week, participants meet with the CEOs of start-ups from the center's ecosystem with interventions from the co-founders of Exotrail, Sensome, Zinium and Bubble who share their success stories in turn.

Week 2 : Discover prototyping and improve your communication

The objective of the second week of the sandbox is to better know the entrepreneurs, their soft skills and to evaluate the complementarity of the team. Indeed, through a workshop on theatrical improvisation, set up by Next level Formation, a specialist in the field, it will be possible to evaluate the fundamental skills of an entrepreneur: stress management, listening, audacity, the ability to make mistakes, taking a step back...

There will also be the possibility to participate in a challenge in the prototyping space of the center. The opportunity to allow participants to experience in real time what it can mean to go from an idea to a prototype. This is made possible thanks to the activities organized by the center's prototyping engineers and designers.

During this period, the entrepreneurs will also focus on communication. A specific work to improve their pitch, which will be led by Diane Gaillard. Co-founder of Consultancy32, Diane has been a trainer in communication for executives and managers of start-ups and large groups since 2006. She is also a professor of international communication.

What's next? 

The end of the sandbox includes a presentation of the project by the entrepreneurs in front of an external selection committee that evaluates its feasibility and gives its decision on possible support.

Validated participating start-ups will be able to move on to the next stages of incubation. These stages will include building the MVP, validating the business plan, defining financing, and ending with a pitch to investors in December 2021.