choose them well and not just for their money, financing

It took a year and a half before Brieuc-Oger convince a business angel (BA) to sponsor his start-up Hub quality† From September 2015 to March 2017, he did not skimp on resources: he communicated, argued, asserted his vision… until he won his case. Tempted, the BA eventually joined him, along with seven others. Give them time, however long, toobserve the evolution of the companywas clear to the founder of this digital real estate start-up, launched in 2015 while 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 about 4,500 business angels† In 2017 they invested 63 million euros at companies. But in addition to the financial contribution, the good investor is the one who brings professional expertise, an address book and moral support.

BAs carry valuable expertise

Baptiste Collotfounder of the start-up trust couple, make no mistake. In 2017, half of the fundraising (1.1 million euros) was carried out with six tech business angels. For a start-up that verifies and digitizes B-to-B payments, choosing an expert BA was essential: “Two of our BAs specialize in fintech: Pierre-Antoine Dusoulier (iBanFirst) and Damien Guermonprez (Lemon Way). They are familiar with the environment and target customer base, generally finance departments. The others are experts in SaaS software »he adds.

An experienced BA can also serve as a guide. “Many people have great projects, without knowing what to do with them, notice Jean-Louis Decossea former startup turned BA, member of the Lyon network Ad-Hoc Invest. Especially in the start-up phase, we sometimes sit on the supervisory board to put forward our point of view, our experience. †

Among the companies he has supported: Wizbii, a youth employment platform founded in 2010. During the fundraising in 2011, the BAs provided only 1 million euros out of 5 harvested, but their know-how was just as valuable. “Jean-Louis Decosse brought us skills that we didn’t have in our teams, assures one of the co-founders, Benjamin DucoussoHis experience at Cegid has helped us monetize our audience. Another of our business angels, Olivier Heckmann, gave us the benefit of his investor experience. When we were in the capital raising phase, he was able to reframe us. Thanks to him, we learned to be less commercial and to ask our interlocutors directly what they had to offer us. †

The BA address book can also be a gold mine. This enabled Brieuc Oger to broaden 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 industry’s confidence in us. †

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

Present in times of doubt

Finally, choosing a BA is also a matter of feeling to avoid tensions, to guarantee a relationship of trust and a shared vision. “It is essential to have a frank discussion from the start, 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 should always know the person in front of you. Before we 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 to discuss. †

And it can also become a long-term relationship… “Even today, even if 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 be decisive in a soft blow, in an invigorating phone call or even crop regularly 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 great. Self-confidence is an engine for progress in entrepreneurship. Business angels can be there to give it a boost. †

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