How do French start-up investors work?

FOCUS – Family, friends, business angels, funds … Finding capital to start a startup is a quest for twists and turns. Le Figaro tells you about the day-to-day lives of investors

Some of them may become unicorns, start-ups worth more than a billion dollars. Others will prosper, and will be bought by a group. Less fortunate – because there is always a bit of luck in the success! – some young shoots will be forced to stop their activities. But all of them, as they developed, needed financing and investors. They are the ones who make the rain and the good weather in the world of the young shoots. Often, the media tells the ideas, the innovations, and the way of working of these modern companies, with "cool" offices. A world that is much more dreaming than funding methods … Yet, without investment, no one would talk about start-ups: they simply could not hatch!

If banks do not lend money directly, there is a thousand ways to find capital to advance his project. The first is in the family circle and friendly. What Jonathan Lascar, patent entrepreneur and investor calls "the money of love." 3000 or 4000 euros, help depends on the generosity of loved ones. "This help can raise about 20K to launch his project, says Jonathan Lascar Figaro . It is also possible to have a grant from Bpifrance, such as the French Tech Scholarship, up to 30,000 euros. Some generous business angels can also invest tickets from € 50,000 to € 100,000. Most senior colleges are developing their own network of business angels. "

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And then? Serena Capital, Aurinvest, Global Founders Capital, Axa Strategic Ventures, Bpifrance … France has dozens of investment funds – public or private – that invest sums of money – from tens of thousands of euros to several hundred million – in start-ups, at various stages of their growth, from the first steps in the business to the preparation of an IPO. Successful entrepreneurs such as Marc Simoncini, Xavier Niel, and Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet have "set up" their own investment funds.

"Most French funds are less risky than US funds in Silicon Valley"

Jonathan Lascar, entrepreneur, and investment director at Bpifrance

Health, biotech, foodtech, innovation .. The sectors are many and varied. Who takes the first step, the entrepreneur or the investor? The closer we are to "priming" – the beginning of the entrepreneurial adventure – the more the investor is the first to move. At less advanced stages (seed, series A), the young shoots go to meet the funds, to convince on their team and their project. Victoire Millerand has worked for five years at Bpifrance, where she officiates for Bpifrance's "Ambition Numérique" and "Ambition Amorçage Angels" funds. His role? Detect and chase high potential startups. "The first part of my job is to sniff out interesting personalities and teams," she says. Then there is training, coaching, and a lot of listening. Metaphorically, it is a little a role of physical trainer. "

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Once the" physical preparation "Has borne fruit and that some young shoots have the wind in their sails, they are looking for larger investments, supposed to propel even higher. This is called, in jargon, the "B or C series". "This step requires a thorough understanding of a market, it takes between weeks and months," says Charlotte Corbaz, investor at Bpifrance on behalf of the "Large Venture" fund with a billion euros of funds and intended for innovative companies in hyper growth. Large Venture has invested in Devialet, Sigfox, Doctolib and Parrot. "Even though companies are a bit more mature, it's still venture capital and failure can happen," says Charlotte.

Failure can occur. Whenever. But as its name suggests, "venture capital" requires daring to go further and not be content with known territories. "French early stage investment funds must take more risks than US funds in Silicon Valley and invest earlier and more dynamically in our young shoots judge Jonathan Lascar. In my opinion, We should dare more! "Because if the failure can occur, there is also in the investment a bit of luck that it is necessary to provoke …" We trust a team, but we do not can never really be sure of the success of a project, "says Victoire, before summarizing:" To be a good investor, you have to be optimistic and project yourself into a world that is changing faster and faster. "


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