Partech Ventures is the partner of choice for tomorrow’s digital champions.
As the firm closes Partech Entrepreneur II, its new €100 million seed fund, General Partner Romain Lavault lets us in on Partech’s three key strengths.
Startups, entrepreneurs & industrials: the Partech touch
As Romain sees it, Partech’s role is largely about saving companies time.
To do that, Partech Ventures, whose portfolio now boasts some 130 startup firms, is trying to create a complete ecosystem in which entrepreneurs can thrive. The fund is supported by a community of approximately 90 entrepreneurs, including former key executives at Apple, Twitter and Microsoft, partners from major industrial and services groups and tech giants who offer in-kind benefits and dedicated support for Partech startups. “We want to create a tight-knit community that acts like a true marketplace”, says Romain.
With this in mind, Partech Ventures maximizes offline and online interactions. Offline, the fund organizes quarterly get-togethers such as the Entrepreneur Clubs in Paris, San Francisco and Berlin, where entrepreneurs pitch entrepreneurs, but also carefully selected strategic partners interested in picking up or distributing the startups’ products. Online, Partech equips firms with an array of tools to foster dialogue. With a single click, participants can ask for advice, take an opportunity or propose a collaboration. Romain gives an example: “Worders, a startup specialized in translation, signed an agreement within a week with one of our French firms and is negotiating two other deals in the US. All it took was a few emails!”
Partech Ventures does well out of the network effect too., First of all, from a sourcing perspective, as 20% of proposed deals come from within the fund’s community. “Every founder recommends an average of five deals a year.” On the financing side, as well, because successful entrepreneurs often want to support the next generation. “Seven founders of startups financed by Partech Entrepreneur I, all of whom have gone on to become multimillionaires, are now investing in Partech Entrepreneur II. The entrepreneurs of today are the investors of tomorrow. It is also testament to the trust that we are building together”, enthuses Romain.
A ticket to the world
The second key strength of Partech Ventures is its ability to provide investee companies with international support, which is handled locally by investment teams based in Europe and the US.
“This is a deal breaker for us: we only finance companies that operate – or plan to operate – in more than one country”, explains Romain. Since its goal is to back best-in-sector outfits no matter where they are in the world, Partech does not have any geographical sourcing restrictions and is giving the new seed fund a very international feel. Just 25% to 30% of Partech Entrepreneur II firms will be based in France, as compared with 80% for Partech Entrepreneur I, with the majority of investments concentrated in the rest of Europe and the United States
To help startups accelerate their international expansion, Partech teams at the San Francisco, Paris and Berlin hubs provide assistance in identifying future markets, hiring local senior management and even conducting overseas acquisitions. A few years ago, when PriceMatch, a startup funded by Partech Entrepreneur I, bought its Dutch competitor, Partech Ventures was on hand to oversee the takeover procedures and process. “I personally led the negotiations alongside the founders”, recalls Romain.
Setting high standards when all’s well, but on hand if things go awry
To manage seed investments, Romain works with a six-person team – four investment directors spread between Paris, Berlin and San Francisco and two analysts – who provide startups with day-to-day support on topics as varied as structuring their marketing approach, pricing appropriately and setting the right KPIs.
Embodying this support role, the Partech Shaker is a startup campus opened by Partech Ventures in 2014. Located in central Paris, the 2,200m2 space allows French and foreign investee companies manage their hyper-growth phase effectively, with flexible lease arrangements, hassle-free logistics, access to events and a partner network. PriceMatch was a resident for eight months, during which it tripled in size and was bought by Booking.com.
Partech Ventures has enormous faith in its entrepreneurs. To give an example, Romain backed Tribe when the startup was in crisis and everyone had given up on the project. He supplied the funds for one last pivot, which turned out to be the right one. “I’ve always believed in them and I was delighted for them. They are now established in California and just conducted a major fund-raising round with Sequoia Capital. That’s how we operate: we set high standards when all’s well, but we are also on hand if things go awry.”
The last word?
When asked about what motivates him with Partech Entrepreneur II, Romain answers straightaway: “What drives us every day is the desire to build a genuine community of outstanding entrepreneurs within every tech hub on the planet, and to work together to write the success stories that will be game changers for millions of people. As the saying goes: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’”.