Behind the scenes of the business world, some names naturally stand out. Harold Parisot, with his audacity and vision, created the Chinese Business Club, a unique exchange place between the big names in industry, politics, and media. But how did this ESSEC graduate manage to attract emblematic figures such as Emmanuel Macron or Prince Albert of Monaco to his club? How has the Chinese Business Club evolved over the years, particularly in the face of the Covid crisis, to become a key player in the French entrepreneurial world? In this exclusive interview, Ecostylia takes you on a journey to discover the inner workings of the club, through the journey of its founder, his challenges, and his successes. Dive into a world where business, elegance, and ambition intersect, and discover how the Chinese Business Club has become the meeting place for today’s decision-makers.
Pierre-Antoine Tsady: Mr. Parisot, could you describe your journey starting with your youth, your studies, and how you came up with the idea to found the Chinese Business Club?
Harold Parisot: I graduated from the ESSEC Business School in Cergy Pontoise. After being an employee for several years in telecom, I negotiated a mutual termination with my former employer to start my own business. Indeed, it was at this point that I had the entrepreneurial click. In 2012, I was often in contact with Chinese investors who wanted to meet politicians and business leaders or even French brands to sell. That’s how I got the idea to found the Chinese Business Club.
P.A.T: Tell us the story of the Chinese Business Club. How did the club resist Covid?
H.P.: The first years were complicated because I didn’t have the network and the contacts necessary to keep my Club alive. In 2015, I tried to bring Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of Economy, as the guest of honor of the club. Not knowing him and having no contact at Bercy, I contacted the Bercy switchboard! I did well to try because my request was eventually accepted by his office and he came to the club on June 15, 2015. This was a big communication coup in terms of visibility and reputation for the Chinese Business Club. The Covid health crisis was a new step to overcome for the club. I decided to broaden the target to entrepreneurs, start-ups, VSEs, SMEs, business angels, and investors.
P.A.T: The Chinese Business Club is becoming more and more French. What happened for it to be less Franco-Chinese?
H.P.: Because of Covid, the Chinese are now much less numerous than before, which is why the Chinese Business Club is now 90% French. While waiting for the Chinese to return, the club is increasingly turning towards the French Tech and entrepreneurship.
P.A.T: Can you tell us about your teams and how you work to live up to your reputation?
H.P.: I have been working alone since the creation of the club in 2012, I have no employee, no salaried worker, no intern, no assistant. However, I work closely with a team of freelancers for many years. They work very well and are always very responsive to my expectations and requests.
P.A.T: The Chinese Business Club attracts leading entrepreneurs. What do you attribute this great success to?
H.P.: I confirm that the Chinese Business Club has never worked as well as it does today! I think I chose the right strategy by targeting entrepreneurs and young business leaders. They have a real interest in joining the club to meet many French billionaires, business angels, investors, and journalists.
P.A.T: Who are the entrepreneurs, inventors, and business leaders that you particularly admire?
H.P.: I am always admiring of people who work and are ambitious regardless of the results. I believe that in life, you have to dare and try even if the expected goals are not always there. I have always been attracted to those who succeed, because it motivates me and pulls me up.
P.A.T: You have invited Presidents Emmanuel Macron, Nicolas Sarkozy, H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco… Could you share memorable moments experienced with some of these prestigious guests? How have these experiences reinforced the club’s reputation on the international stage?
H.P.: I admit that with hindsight, I realize the luck I have had to be able to bring all these personalities! It is obviously always a privilege and an incredible experience to be able to rub shoulders with them one-on-one upon their arrival at the Chinese Business Club. I alternate between politicians, the big bosses of the CAC 40 and more and more entrepreneurs at the head of French unicorns with always incredible success stories! The guests of honor are the pretext to bring together the member companies and the many personalities, as the business opportunities will essentially be made in the room among the many guests at each lunch.
P.A.T: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs wishing to get the most out of the Chinese Business Club?
H.P.: I invite entrepreneurs who are members of the Club to arrive as early as possible at each event to leave with as many contacts as possible. Of course, you will not do business with all the people approached, but you will only meet decision-makers and that’s a real time saver. I spend my time introducing people to each other and making connections.
P.A.T: We have observed a real diversity among the members of the Club. Is it a priority for the Chinese Business Club to promote parity and diversity?
H.P.: I can confirm that parity is respected! There are as many men as women. The strength of a network is its diversity. The Chinese Business Club includes many French billionaires, business angels and investors, but also politicians, senators, deputies, ambassadors from major countries – mainly Africa and the Middle East – and even professional athletes and gastronomic chefs. Miss France and the Chiefs of the GIGN, RAID and BRI are also regulars at the club! As you have noticed, it’s very eclectic.
P.A.T: Can you describe the elegance as you appreciate it in women and men?
H.P.: I believe that elegance lies in a way of being, a state of mind and an appearance. That’s why at the Chinese Business Club, elegance is expected from all guests in order to optimize meetings, exchanges and therefore opportunities between members, all in a spirit of kindness and respect for all. In terms of appearance, I believe it’s important to be well dressed. For me, elegance is also a form of respect for one’s interlocutors. That’s why at the Chinese Business Club, suit/tie for men and dress or suit for women are the norm.
P.A.T: What does Harold Parisot do when he’s not at the Chinese Business Club? Do you engage in cultural, sports or artistic activities? If so, which ones?
H.P.: I mainly enjoy spending time with my family and loved ones, I do a bit of sport at Lagardère Paris Racing – tennis and swimming – and increasingly, I support entrepreneurs in the development of their start-up as a business angel – pre-seed and seed investments [initial financing of a nascent start-up, ed.] – by opening up my address book and contacts to them. I try to be an active investor for the young entrepreneurs I support by dedicating time and energy to them.
P.A.T: Finally, how can we contact you?