It’s official: the specialist in vegetable alternatives to animal proteins, HappyVore, now has its own factory in the Loiret. This production unit should be able to produce 10,000 tons of vegetable nuggets and patties, which are then distributed to supermarkets and restaurants. An investment made possible thanks to 35 million euros raised in series B with Artal and business angels already involved in the project since the first fundraising of 3 million was carried out in January 2020.
Also at Upway the latest collected 23 million euros with Exor Seeds, Sequoia Capital and Origins funds will provide a welcome boost after an initial funding round of 3.5 million in November 2021, which enabled the company to launch. Enough so that this platform for buying and selling refurbished electric bikes can now turn international. But convincing the investors to get started took time and energy.
The first piece of advice may seem like a boat, but it is essential: you do not go into lifting with a flower in your rifle. The exercise is getting ready. “What is complicated is that you have to continue to manage the business in parallelRemember Guillaume Dubois, CEO and co-founder of HappyVore. And the more history there is in the company, the more there is to prepare investors for. The first fundraisers in the seed phase are therefore often quicker to set up, especially when business angels are preferred to foundations. “Here we are more about feeling, influencing. For HappyVore, some did not even look at the details of the project. They were only interested in its effect,” says Guillaume Dubois.
This does not mean that there is no need for special preparation. On the contrary. Several elements remain unavoidable. “Especially an excellent pitch: sharp, short and dealing with essential topics”, clarifies Toussaint Wattinne, CEO and co-founder of Upway. It is also better choose the right time, when the company has enough money, advises Guillaume Dubois. “That way you don’t get stressed by the weather, with a knife at your throat. »
#2. Trust the network
We can never stress enough the importance of networking to an entrepreneur, and this is true when you are looking to raise funds. Both Upway and HappyVore approached the first potential investors directly via the founders’ network through Uber for the former and McKinsey for the latter. “Our first contact was not interested, but he gave us the name of another person, who in turn referred us to others, and one thing led to another, only through word of mouth did we find our first investors”, recalls the CEO of HappyVore.
The other benefit of searching your network is thatexpand your range of options. “We must multiply the requests for introductions. The more the person knows you, knows how you work, the more relevant the touch will be,” comments Toussaint Wattinne.
#3. Find the investors you want
However, there is no doubt about allying with the first comers. Choosing your investors is like getting married: it is better to share the same vision and common values for the union to work. “So you have to be proactive and not wait for investors to come to you,” advises the CEO of HappyVore. This makes it possible to select upstream the investors who are likely to respond to the project, without wasting time making contacts that will not succeed.
Once the first filters are in place, think broadly. Firstly, because it can be advantageous to show investors that there are more going on. And then because it speeds up decision-making without leaving them with the impression that time is not pressing. In its first round, Upway traded with no less than 25 funds. “And again, we didn’t imagine the variety of funds that could exist, and we didn’t look too closely at business angels! remembers Toussaint Wattinne.
#4. Put yourself in their shoes
Once the investors have been contacted, they still need to be convinced. To do this, there is no need to pull out: “The important thing is to put yourself in their place, to understand their way of thinking and talk to them about the right topics,” sums up Guillaume Dubois. Leave the non-essential information and the speakers a little too arrogant. “Don’t pretend you’re better than the others, simply different », warns the managing director of HappyVore. And keep the most important thing in mind: “know your market, the competition, your product”, he continues.
Investors also want to be sure of the risk they are taking. Giving them tangible elements to support them in their decision is therefore always appreciated. This could be, for example, registered patents, already signed commercial contracts or an experienced, motivated project team that masters its trade.
#5. Manage your emotions
Entrepreneurs may be well prepared, but there’s still one aspect of fundraising they’ll have less control over: the emotional. “In this kind of exercise, ups and downs can follow each other from one hour to the next. Some discussions go really well, others are difficult. It can easily become difficult to manage,” warns Toussaint Wattinne. Nevertheless, you must maintain confidence to get to the end of the promise.
The presence of a partner or the support of the entourage counts to overcome this often complicated phase. “For my part, we worked by communicating vessels with my partner, continues the CEO of Upway. When one was worse, the other supported him and vice versa. Especially since some phases are more stressful than others, such as due diligence. “At the time said you no to all the other funds and are only linked to those that are selected. If they cool off, the situation can become very unpleasant,” warns Guillaume Dubois.