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Growth · 11 December '17

While on a Trade Mission with the Mayor of London

In October 2017, the Mayor’s International Programme organized a Trade Mission to Paris. The mission led by the Mayor himself was organized by London and Partners. We are proud that two of our LCIF portfolio companies Benivo and Baby2Body were also invited to the mission. Here is a brief account of their experience on the mission:

An account by Matthew Chic, Chief Commercial Officer, Benivo

Benivo is the world’s first specialty provider of welcome, onboarding and relocation services built with a technology-first approach for the needs of large volume, entry-level recruitment.

Benivo was introduced to the Mayor’s international programme through Funding London networks, which led to us being invited to accompany the Mayor of London on the Paris Trade Mission. It was an honor to join the Mayor on this vital tour to strengthen our business ties with France.

As the CCO of Benivo, I had 2 primary objectives on my agenda: First, to build network in the Parisian corporate community and second, to assess viability for expanding Benivo’s service suite from a thriving London market into Paris.

What I observed:

  • A vibrant young professional scene and a community of business leaders eager to assess capabilities of new entrants to the market.
  • A competitive technology ecosystem with many promising new players.
  • Very similar dynamics exist between volume recruiters in London and Paris. Multinational companies headquartered in the respective cities share similar challenges to attract, convert and retain the best talent – no matter if their candidates are local, national or international.

What I brought back home:

  • A clear understanding that Paris is a growth market for Benivo.
  • Useful details about the French employer perspective on benefits provision and framing problems.
  • A network of support contacts should we wish to open an office presence in Paris.

The learnings from the Paris Trade Mission have been invaluable and will be central to the developing our expansion strategy. And one personal learning that was reinforced was on the mission was – Talk to Everyone; this would be my advice to anybody joining a trade mission.

An account by Melinda Nicci, Founder, Baby2Body

My company, Baby2Body been a part of the Mayor’s Go to Grow programme for most of this year and the positive impact that the programme has had, has been incredible. Having already travelled to Berlin and Silicon Valley with the amazing delegates that make up this group, my expectations were high for this recent Paris Trade Mission. The opportunity to travel with the Mayor of London was an honor in itself – and the connections, new relationships, brand establishment and conversations I had while there made everything that much sweeter.

Of course, there was a business benefit of this trip. My company, Baby2Body, is the most advanced personal health and wellbeing coach for pregnant women and new mothers – using machine based data analysis to help a woman optimize her health at a time when it has a direct impact on her child’s health as well. We are utilizing AI, machine learning and integrating with wearable devices to hyper-personalize each user’s experience, based on their own personal and behavioural data, we coach women to make healthier choices, improve their lifestyle and have healthier babies. This trip to Paris was especially meaningful as we are in exciting partnership talks with a wearables company based in France and this trip helped to cement those relationships and establish our presence there.

There was also a substantial personal and professional benefit from this trip that I’ve been so grateful for. From the mentoring to meeting the Mayor, to the opportunity to speak on a panel on the connection between London and Paris, to speaking with representatives from Johnson & Johnson, and meeting an interesting mix of startups and corporates at the networking at WeWork – it was incredible from start to finish.

Ultimately, the importance of these trade missions is to strengthen the ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startups in the UK and abroad, and to help bring the message of UK Scale Ups to the rest of the world and the Mayor, the Mayor’s Office, the Go to Grow Programme, and the Department of International trade have been a key driver of these opportunities. I’m already packing for our next trade mission to India and look forward to sharing the learnings from that experience as we expand and grow our business in Asia and other new markets.