After Investir en Direct, Jérôme Masurel and Charles Fourault launched 50 Partners. What is the structure’s recipe for providing the best possible support to French start-ups?
JDN. After your activity as a fundraiser with Investir en Direct, you launched 50 Partners. What led you to create this new structure?
. At Investir en Direct, many young start-ups come to us at a stage where they are not yet mature enough to be financed. Some projects are attractive, but the entrepreneurs need to make more progress to present them to a panel of investors, for example by completing their site, generating more traffic or finding the right monetization levers. If these conditions are not met, the response from an investor is usually negative. This time, 50 Partners is positioned as a support structure which, at this stage, will offer start-ups expertise on their market, thanks to our network of 50 experienced partners, to then help them raise funds.
What makes you different from an accelerator or a classic incubator?
We want to offer the best incubation model to French start-ups. Hence the creation of a hybrid structure. With Investir en Direct we have succeeded in creating a quality ecosystem for both entrepreneurs and investors over the past two years. 50 Partners will not impose a maximum duration of incubation and will focus on the long term. However, the duration of access to offices will not exceed 8 months for three positions. We also assume that the value of an incubator lies more in the network of mentors than in the funding and material support.
If we give a start-up 400,000 euros and ask it to manage, it’s not a sure thing. Human resources are the key to success, and this is done by those who advise a manager. We also seek to associate a qualitative ecosystem composed of large groups, schools and even lawyers and financial advisors. In the long term, we want to take a place that meets a significant need on the part of new projects. Entrepreneurial funds intervene at the next stage of development. They are complementary.
How do you plan to encourage mentors to be more involved than in a traditional accelerator?
“The fact that all the mentors are involved in the success of the projects seems to us to be crucial.
The notion of a financial association between mentors and projects allows the mentors to maintain their investment in the support they provide. The fact that all mentors are associated with the success of the projects seems to us to be crucial and this is unique in the existing structures. At 50 Partners, we base our positioning on the fact that we have 50 experienced partners who will accompany our start-ups. We already have 30 mentoring partners and this number will not exceed 50. Most of them are recognized mentors in their sector, such as Pierre Trémolières (Delamaison.fr), Pascal Chevalier (Netbooster), Didier Rappaport (Dailymotion), Didier Kuhn (Screentonic) or Jonathan Zisermann (Mediastay)…
How does the equity investment process work?
When a start-up joins our program, we take a 7% stake in its capital, which breaks down into 6% for the 50 Partners structure and 1% for the sponsor who accompanies the project a little more closely. This is a way of motivating the mentor who plays the role of sponsor. The start-up receives in exchange a sum of between 10,000 and 15,000 euros. But after that, any investor is free to invest in our start-ups.
How did you animate this ecosystem and set up such a network?
Our previous mission was to connect investors, most often successful entrepreneurs, with young digital entrepreneurs. Every month, during our event called the start-up barge, we select 3 to 4 projects from among some 40 that we present to investors. We have also set up study trips to offer these entrepreneurs and investors a better understanding of markets they are not familiar with, such as the South and North American markets and soon Berlin. This is an activity that we maintain as part of 50 Partners.
A graduate of EM Lyon, Jérôme Masurel began his career as an analyst at NextStage in 2001, before joining Rotschild & Cie the following year, where he worked in the private equity department until 2004. He then became a partner in the entrepreneurial network Agregator and in 2010 founded Investir en Direct with Charles Fourault, with whom he launched 50 Partners in August 2012.