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 startup Hub Grade. From September 2015 to March 2017, he spared no means: he communicated, argued, asserted his vision… until he won his case. Seduced, BA ended up joining him along with seven others. Give them time, however long, toobserve the company’s developmentwas obvious to the founder of this digital real estate start-up, launched in 2015, when he was still at EM Lyon. “It is 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 beyond the financial contribution, the good investor is the one who will bring professional expertise, an address book and moral support.

BAs hold valuable expertise

Baptiste Collotfounder of the startup Trustpair, was not wrong. 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, choosing an expert BA was crucial: “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 group, generally finance departments. The others are experts in SaaS software »he adds.

An experienced BA can also act as a guide. “Many people have good projects without knowing what to do with them, notice Jean-Louis Decossea former startuper turned BA, 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 equally valuable. “Jean-Louis Decosse brought us skills that we didn’t have in our team, assures one of the co-founders, Benjamin Ducousso. His experience at Cegid helped us as he worked to monetize 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 raising phase, he was able to reposition 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 gold mine. 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 invest in his start-up.
– DR

Present in times of doubt

Finally, the choice of BA is also one question of feeling to avoid tensions, guarantee a relationship of trust and a shared vision. “It is 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 associating, it’s better to make sure we’re looking in the same direction. “My intervention always depends on the companies’ needs, and they vary enormously. It can be the organization of a workshop, my presence on the board or just a cup of coffee to discuss. »

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

Above all, the support of a BA can prove crucial in the event of a soft blow, with an uplifting phone call or even regular pruning if necessary. “The business angel sometimes assumes the role of a 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 he was the one who came to remind me of the value of my work. Sometimes you need someone to say, ‘What you’re doing is great. Confidence is an engine to move forward in entrepreneurship. Business angels can be there to boost it. »

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