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Joining Avolta Partners

I officially joined today Avolta Partners as a Managing Director to offer fundraising and M&A advisory to emerging technology leaders. While I have been casually advising tech startups on fundraising in the past, I thought it was better to structure my action and use the support of an established organization like Avoltat Partners to better serve entrepreneurs. Founded in 2012, Avolta Partners is the fastest-growing investment bank for technology companies in France with more than 15 operations undertook in 2014.

While I will now focus more on advising companies on fundraising and M&A, I will continue to be deeply involved in StartUp42 as well as in my teaching and consulting engagements.

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Goodbye v0.2

StartUp42 v0.2

This post was originally published on StartUp42 blog on February 6 2014.

Last Monday the second season of StartUp42 ended with our Prototype Fiesta. As our startups are now moving towards their future on their own, I wanted to take some time to reflect on how we helped them during the last 4 months.

What we did great

  •  Having a Program Manager on-site (initially Kevin, then Aline), every day, to coordinate interactions between the startups and mentors, partners and myself. Moreover, as both Kevin and Aline were business school graduates, they were able to help (with different skills) some of our startups on the marketing side of things. Remember, 70% of our founders have a technical background.
  • We managed to really boost some startups on the marketing and communication side. For example Worldcraze was virtually unknown before StartUp42. With the substantial press coverage they got during the past weeks, they have transformed into a known brand with copycats even popping up.
  • More than 60 mentors came during the 4 months to share their knowledge and experience with the startups, 50% of them being entrepreneurs.
  • We joined the Global Accelerator Network which gives us a stronger bridge with the Techstars network as well as relationship with other accelerators globally.
  • We attracted more than 100 investors, media and corporate partners for our Prototype Fiesta, which really demonstrates the seriousness of our program.

On the lessons learned side, while our Program Manager was able to help the startups from time to time, their action was unfocused and not optimum towards all our startups, due to their other program management activities. While I was very wary about Entrepreneurs In Residence, this situation made me change my mind. We will announce very soon a new EIR for our v0.3.

I am very proud of how our startups performed during the Prototype Fiesta. Most of them were really transformed by the accelerator experience and I wish them great success in their entrepreneurial life.

If you also want to be part of such adventure, applications for our v0.3 session are now open until March 3rd.

Feedback on GAN MD Conference

GAN MD Conference
GAN MD Conference

This post was originally published on StartUp42’s blog on January 14th 2014.

Back in November of last year, I attended the annual GAN Managing Director conference in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. The GAN (Global Accelerator Network) is the global accelerator club founded by TechStars, that we joined in September of last year. Created over two years ago, the GAN already has some very impressive numbers: more than 50 accelerators, in 63 cities, from 6 continents, with over 3125 jobs generated and $548M raised in financing.

The annual MD conference is supposed to bring together management teams from accelerators around the globe to connect, share best practices and learn from experts in our industry. This year, 46 people from 27 different accelerators – most of them located in the U.S., the rest in eight other countries including South Korea – attended the 3-day conference. As a fresh new member of the GAN and, to be honest, still a rookie in the accelerator space, this sounded like the perfect event to improve my knowledge and get to learn from very experienced accelerators’ MDs, including the folks at Techstars. And, of course, I got to spend a few days under California sun in November ;)

As I predicted, I learned a lot. Here are my key takeaways:

1/ Apart from local specificities, most accelerators face the same problems. To name a few: early access to deal flow, manage and educate local investor base, get quality mentors.

2/ Being a non-profit like us is not the norm at the GAN. All accelerators present follow the “standard” YC/Techstars model: raise funds, invest in startups, take equity and live of (relatively small) management fees. As most seed accelerators raise less than $5M, almost no accelerator can live on management fees, or at least not until they realize a substantial exit. Most of them try to diversify as much as possible their revenue stream through consulting or event organization.

3/ Successful accelerators maintain close relationship with their local investor base. As John Greathouse , one of our guest speakers, pointed out: “VCs like to feel like they’re important. Find something operational a VC can help you with and reward investors for being active in a tangible way”.

4/ Corporations are more and more interested in creating their own accelerators (we have seen it in France as well, with the recent launch of Canal+ accelerator). There is a clearer and clearer will from corporations to learn from startups on how to engage with consumers and move products.

5/ Engaging alumni (previously accelerated startups’ CEOs) with newly recruited startups is a great way to share knowledge and build your own community.

Since we don’t currently invest in startups at StartUp42, many of the problems faced by my fellow accelerators do not currently apply to us. Nevertheless, I came back from this conference better armed than ever to help our startups and work on the future of StartUp42.