Who are the greatest French business angels?

Jérémie Berrebi changes her life. Xavier Niels’ partner in the investment fund Kima Ventures does not give up the daily study of the Torah or his involvement in the Israeli Orthodox Jewish community. Even less for the education of his eleven children, which he raises with his wife in their large house in Bnei Brak, in the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

The young 36-year-old business angel, probably one of the most active in France in recent years, will shake up his working methods. No more overlapping trades at a few tens of thousands of euros at a price of two or three stock investments a week. Jeremie Berrebi wants to move a gear up. After supporting the founder of Free for six years for the investment of more than 35 million euros in almost 250 start-ups, he wants to position himself as a super consultant for the largest family office of the planet, a kind of investment banker for multibillionaire angels. “These are fortunes that represent five to ten times Xaviers’, blows the investor. His new average ticket values ​​it at 10 million euros.

Obviously, something has changed in the small world of French business angels. When Challenges announced its first selection of 100 start-ups, five years ago a famous trio dominated the landscape of investors: Xavier Niel, Jacques-Antoine Granjon and Marc Simoncini. The three men remain very present, although Marc Simoncini has announced that he intends to sell the holdings of his Jaïna fund within three years, in order to move forward. But according to the ranking established by the website Fundme.fr, which connects start-ups and investors, dozens of other personalities have since risen to the rank of sponsors in this French universe of high-growth companies, such as a Jérôme Lascombe, the founder of the PR agency Hopscotch, or Olivier David, a 36-year-old recidivist entrepreneur.

“We must not reduce the world of business angels to the stars of the system”, claims Tanguy de la Fouchardière, vice president of France Angels, which brings together about 75 associations of French business angels. A total of 4,442 individual investors financed 305 start-ups last year to a value of almost 40 million euros. “We see more and more interesting files, we do not lack imagination or entrepreneurs. “he states.

And according to him, tax exemption comes last among their motives: “Taxation is for retirees, not companies. Of course, without losing sight of financial investment – but also the inherent risk it represents – more and more executives and experienced entrepreneurs are offering their time and skills to start-ups. Launched in France in 2012 by Xavier Milin, the Startup Leadership Program allows leaders from large groups to sponsor and advise young entrepreneurs on a voluntary basis for six months without receiving any financial contribution.

“What’s important to an entrepreneur is to have people who help you not to screw up when you have your head in the wheel”, sums up Francesco Maio, co-founder of 50 Partners, which launched Fashion Capital Partners last year, a fund that primarily invests in fashion and technology. About fifteen very different personalities bring money and time. “And no one will be tax free “, assures Francesco Maio. Because startup cycles have their reasons why financial logic does not understand …

No exit for five to ten years

Fabrice Grinda knows something about it. He founded several start-ups before becoming one of the most active business angels in the world. Now based in New York, he has invested in nearly 200 companies in seventeen years. Its evaluation rules are very strict before you decide, but above all there are three prerequisites: Invest in what you understand, as the project, as the team. The rest is a matter of feeling and patience: “I lost money in 60% of the companies I had invested inhe confides. To be successful, you need to have at least ten companies in your portfolio and understand that you have to wait five to ten years before you have a chance to leave. “

Marc Ménasé, founder of Menlook.com, waited for nine years for the resale of Kredity, a credit comparator, to get 25 times the stakes in its pockets. Its average release time is about seven years. But the big shots remain exceptional. Especially in France, where all players deplore the liquidity problem and the difficult exit conditions for investors. In France, successful IPOs of start-ups are exceptions. The most beautiful Exit happens through sales to large corporations, which remain rare, although the giants of CAC 40 have multiplied declarations of love to entrepreneurs in recent times. The angels would so like to believe it.

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