Occupation business angel – Forensic informant

They play a key role in supporting the start-up of young companies. Who are these business angels who finance start-ups and whose added value lies in support and advice? Meeting with three Vendée investors who have decided to put their experience at the service of innovative ideas.

“The seed financing does not exist in France,” protests Alain Foltzer vice president of Abab, a network of business angels (BA) born 11 years ago in Nantes. Since then, the association has expanded to the Vendée, with the creation of a territorial delegation in 2017, led by this multi-entrepreneur in the private hospital sector.

“The truth, he continues, is that bankers don’t know how to finance companies that don’t have balance sheets. The only alternative to development is either love money (financing by family members) or business angels, private investors who accept to take a risk by essentially betting on the trust that the project leader and the company instill in them.idea he defends! “However, emphasizes Alain Foltzer, “the role of a BA is not just financial.

THE TRUTH IS BANKS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FINANCE COMPANIES WITHOUT BALANCE SHEET.

It mainly lies in supporting entrepreneurs. And to add, ‘if we have to paint a composite picture, it’s often retired male entrepreneurs who have sold their businesses and have a little capital ahead of them. That said, the typical profile is starting to expand. Women, younger profiles are starting to join us! This makes it possible to tease traditional visions by challenging certain established models. You should also know that it is a choice with risks, the goal is not really to make a profit. Start-ups are based on fragile models, which is why there are as many successes as there are failures in the investments made. Unicorns, these billion dollar super startups remain extremely rare. Very often a business angel is satisfied with finding his first bet. »

TO TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY

In terms of qualities, a business angel must have an analytical mind and an eye for his environment. “We cannot practice the language of the wood,” warns Sylviane Raynaud, business angel at Abab. To understand the motives of the project leader, it is necessary to dig a file before validating it. The relationship established from the first contact should be based on transparency of information. That is the precondition for creating trust and moving forward together.” She clarifies: “I work on affect, I choose my files based on the personality of the responsible person, even though I am more sensitive to environmentally responsible initiatives, for example related to the protection of the environment. From a traditional economic background, it can sometimes be disconcerting to be confronted with intangible projects with great uncertainty. It is the entrepreneur’s ability to instill confidence that will decide whether or not to invest. Of the eight stocks in the Abab portfolio, there is only one that I haven’t bet on. That said, I love being open to change and cooperating with the emergence of new models. I enjoyed experiencing all these entrepreneurial adventures. This is where my greatest pleasure lies.” The young retiree ran a business for 16 years before selling it to a group in 2018. “We were tailor-made manufacturers for the pharmaceutical industry,” says Sylviane Raynaud. In hindsight, I had a busy active life, without ever being part of any club other than my professional union. I felt like I was already taking enough time off my family not to run the networks in the evenings and weekends. A choice that, despite everything, leads to a form of supposed loneliness that she is breaking free from today with this new activity. “For the first time I feel like I belong to a group of my peers and I really like that!”

According to her, being a woman in a masculine environment is not an obstacle. “Of the 21 members of Abab Vendée, we are only two women. This can be explained quite simply. First, to be a BA, one must have money in person. It is clear that female entrepreneurs are still in the minority, even as the younger generations take the plunge faster! Second, a marriage system that allows total freedom is needed. I think this is an argument that more women than men work. There is a more pronounced form of caution with us, a responsibility not to spend household money. When I invest, I invest my own money and make sure that my family is protected from risk.” According to Catherine Abonnenc, vice president of Femmes business angels, of the 5,000 to 6,000 individuals investing in France, no more than 9 to 10% female.

KEY DATA From ABAB VENDEE

Date from creation : end of 2017.

First file : early 2018.

Principle: each business angel positions themselves individually by investing the amount they want in the start-up they want.

Number folders learned : eight files were and are still supported by Abab Vendée. This year, a financing exit was made following the buy-out of 100% of the shares of a network-backed start-up.

Ticket medium investment by means of BA : €10,000

Transaction amount: The Vendée association has 21 individual members who have invested a total of almost 2 million euros since its creation. More than a dozen additional financings were made to support the growth of the portfolio start-ups.

THE SHALL TO HAVE URGE

For Frédéric Mandin, a former entrepreneur in the agri-food sector, the motivation lies elsewhere. “Through my national and later international professional experience, I lost the direct link with the richness of the industrial fabric of the Vendée, which I really appreciated. I promised myself, the day I sell, to share my experience with people in the area. Today I am a business angel as I hold salaried positions in the company I was a shareholder in which was bought by a world leader. If I had to take stock of this experience, I would be torn between the desire to help and the frustration of not being able to devote more time to it. Being a business angel remains an energy-intensive activity. My main goal is to pass on desire, will, knowledge and ambition to those who need it. I am convinced that professional success plays a rather powerful mental role. In school you are given tools and resources to succeed, but you are not told how difficult it can be at times. My role, beyond the financial aspect and the prospect of immediate profit, is to instill in all these neo-entrepreneurs more belligerence and the will to desire,” he concludes.

MY MAIN OBJECTIVE IS TO PROVIDE DESIRE, WILL, KNOWLEDGE AND AMBITION TO THOSE IN NEED.

Since its inception, Abab Vendée has processed between two and three files, despite a “trough” linked to the Covid period. “These are essentially start-ups in the start-up phase, the more advanced structures don’t interest us,” explains Alain Foltzer. Sourcing is done in close collaboration with the Vendée Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A representative of the CCI takes care of the administrative follow-up of the files, while two instructors appointed from among the members of the association are responsible for the personal guidance of the project leaders. “There is quite a bit of direct sourcing, complains Alain Foltzer, but we are working on our notoriety until it becomes a reflex for any entrepreneur in the area who wants to bring forward new ideas! That is why we are organizing an information meeting in the Vendée towards the end of the year”.

WHAT STEPS? FOR THE EDUCATION OF A FILE ABAB?

The pre-selection of files is done in close collaboration with the CCI Vendée and Abab. As soon as a potential has been detected, the project leader is invited to pitch to a selection committee. It concerns all affiliated business angels who jointly decide whether or not to continue the instruction. Two BA instructors are then appointed to thoroughly study the file together with the contractor. At the end, the instructors write a report in which they give their opinion on the presentation of the file to the next decisive stage: the investment committee. With a favorable advice, each business angel positions itself individually as a future shareholder of the company at the level desired by him. The project leader is then regularly followed by his instructors who guide him during his entrepreneurial adventure.

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