choose them well and not just for their money, Financing

It took a year and a half to Brieuc-Oger to convince a business angel (BA) to sponsor his start-up Hub-Grade. From September 2015 to March 2017, he did not skimp on the funds: he communicated, argued, asserted his vision … until he won his case. Seduced, BA ended up joining him along with seven others. Give them time, no matter how longobserve the development of the companywas obvious to the founder of this digital real estate start-up, launched in 2015 while still at EM Lyon. “It’s so valuable to convince a digital business angel that this time has been worth it”he explains.

In France there are approx 4,500 business angels. In 2017, they invested 63 million euros in companies. But in addition to the financial contribution, the good investor is the one who will provide professional expertise, an address book and moral support.

BAs hold valuable expertise

Baptiste Collotfounder of the startup Trustpair, did not make a mistake. In 2017, half of their fundraising (1.1 million euros) was done with six tech business angels. For a start-up that controls and digitizes B to B payments, it was crucial to choose an expert BA: “Two of our BAs specialize in fintech: Pierre-Antoine Dusoulier (iBanFirst) and Damien Guermonprez (Lemon Way). They are familiar with the environment and the target audience, generally finance departments. The others are experts in SaaS software.”he adds.

An experienced BA can also serve as a guide. “A lot of people have good projects without knowing what to do with them, notice Jean-Louis Decossea former startup who became a BA, a member of the Lyon network Ad-Hoc Invest. Especially in the start-up phase, we sometimes sit on the board to bring our point of view, our experience. »

Among the companies he has supported: Wizbii, a platform for youth employment, founded in 2010. During its fundraising in 2011, the BAs provided only 1 million euros out of the 5 harvested, but their know-how was just as valuable. “Jean-Louis Decosse brought us skills that we did not have in our team, assures one of the co-founders, Benjamin Ducousso. His experience with Cegid helped us as he worked to make money on our audience. Another of our business angels, Olivier Heckmann, gave us the benefit of his experience as an investor. When we were in the capital increase phase, he was able to reformulate us. Thanks to him, we learned to be less commercial and to ask our interlocutors directly what they had to offer us. »

BA’s address book can also be a goldmine. Brieuc Oger was thus able to expand his contacts, especially in real estate. “At our level, the network is almost as important as the money. The presence of the BAs has increased the sector’s confidence in us. »

Brieuc Oger, the founder of Hub-Grade, took 2 and a half years to convince 8 business angels to bet on his startup.

Present in times of doubt

Finally, the choice of BA is also one questions about emotions to avoid tensions, guarantee a relationship of trust and a shared vision. “It’s important to have an honest discussion from the beginning, says Anne de Kerckhove, one of the most active BA women in France. If the entrepreneur is not open to interaction, if he refuses feedback, then there is a problem. » With investments in more than 25 companies, she has learned that you must always know the person in front of you. Before you associate, it’s better to make sure we’re looking in the same direction. “My intervention always depends on the needs of the companies, and they vary enormously. It could be the organization of a workshop, my presence on the board or just a cup of coffee for discussion. »

And it can also turn into a long-term relationship … “Even today, even though I no longer participate in his business, I have lunch every three months with Tom Adeyoola, whose start-up Metail was my first investment.”says Anne de Kerckhove.

Above all, support from a BA can prove crucial in the event of a soft blow, with an invigorating phone call or even regular pruning if necessary. “The business angel sometimes takes on the role of psychologist, confirms Benjamin Ducousso. Olivier Heckmann especially helped me take a step back from the project. I was going through a period where I had lost confidence and it was he who came to remind me of the value of my work. Sometimes you need someone to say, ‘What you’re doing is amazing. Self-confidence is an engine for moving forward in entrepreneurship. Business angels can be there to boost it. »

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