So, something exciting happened last week. I was selected to attend the Viva Technology Paris event starting on July 30th and while it is always exhilarating to talk about Hyphen to new audiences, and even more exciting to spend time in my home city, something even bigger took place at Viva Tech Paris. But, before I get into that, a bit about the Viva Tech conference. Viva Tech is a brand new international Tech conference that brings together around 5,000 top startups from around the world. The goal of Viva Tech is  to connect with top investors and businesses with awesome startups to help expand the businesses of the future.

My experience exceeded all of my expectations.  The event garnered over 45,000 visitors in 3 days with over $11m in new funding handed out to startups.  There were 15 industry-focused labs intended to bring together startups and businesses, top leaders and developers into pitch areas and demo stages that were specific to that industry.  These labs were hotspots for collaboration and connection between startup to startup or startup to big-name companies. Some of the most compelling labs included the Urban Transformation and Innovation sponsored by Cisco Systems and Health Tech by Novartis. The speakers present were also some of the heavy hitters such as David Marcus, Head of Facebook Messenger and Yuanqing Yang, CEO of Lenovo.

In addition to all the above fun events, Viva Tech also had many company-sponsored challenges built to help big businesses solve their toughest problems with the help of cutting-edge startups! AccorHotels sponsored the Hospitality and Tourism Lab and created an innovative challenge to help their company improve the communication between management and employees.  Hyphen entered the AccorHotels Challenge to help them with “re-thinking our ways of working in our hotels thanks to mobile” and was one among many who applied.  To provide a bit of context, AccorHotels is a huge group consisting of Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and many other hotels with about 3,900 properties across 94 countries. We knew this competition would be a competitive one. Fortunately, we made it through to the final round and one of three finalists along with Beekeeper and WeeAkt.  The jury was made up of AccorHotels Senior Management, including Miguel Zancajo, the Senior VP of HR Support for Digital Transformation; Marc Champsaur, Senior VP of Corporate Systems; and Pierre Lagrange, Chief Transformation Officer.  After pitching to the “Talent and Culture” and “Digital Services” Committee, I waited for the jury to make their decision.

Why did we want to win this award so badly?  The stated goal of AccorHotels is to bring the voice of employees to their top executives to create a transparent, open culture of feedback and conversation between management and the workforce, which is exactly what Hyphen is all about! Even though they had just set up an annual engagement survey, they were clear about the need for a a real time pulse of the organization. In addition, given that many of Accor’s employees interact primarily through a smartphone, Hyphen’s mobile first approach is a perfect match! The story seemed too good to be true and hence I nervously anticipated the jury’s verdict.  When we were finally announced as the winner of the start-up challenge, we were exuberant because not only does this award take our story to a bigger audience, we also have gained the opportunity to work directly with Accor. As we embark on this journey with Accor, I’ll make sure to keep you all updated.