French startup accelerator TheFamily is raising up to $2.7 million (€2 million) from angel investors and Index Ventures. It’s an open round — so far investors have committed $1.4 million (€1 million). Given the overall interest around the funding, the company should quickly max out its round. Today’s news is also a good opportunity to take a step back and tell you why TheFamily has been key in improving the French tech ecosystem for the past year.
TheFamily is raising money using its own open source financing documents, AIR. It’s the French equivalent of convertible notes, designed by TheFamily and SB Avocats. There is a simple reason why the company is raising money right now. Many people in the French startup scene wants to access TheFamily’s deal flow, and, at the same time, the accelerator wants to start managing startup investments.
The team wants to create AngelList-style syndicates and manage the deals. It means that TheFamily will be leading or co-leading seed rounds in French startups inside or outside of the accelerator, will receive 20 percent in carried interests and won’t take any management fee.
Business angels who invest in a syndicate won’t get a board seat or won’t even have a say after investing in a company — they have to trust TheFamily. Moreover, the accelerator is ready to co-invest with more traditional VC firms — there will be plenty of opportunities for French VCs.
“We legally can’t let external investors participate in a syndicate with us, so we needed to make them investors in TheFamily first,” partner and co-founder Oussama Ammar told me in an interview. By investing in TheFamily, you are legally allowed to participate in syndicates with TheFamily.
One of the first companies who will received funding from TheFamily’s investment arm will be Tok Tok Tok.
These individual investors are TheFamily’s godfathers. They range from successful French entrepreneurs to fundraisers, investors, accountants and more. The full list is embedded at the end of this post. “We can accept up to 500 godfathers,” Ammar said.
Index Ventures was an existing investor and absolutely wanted to put more money on this round. The VC firm invested $200,000 (€150,000). Contrarily to what was reported at the time, TheFamily only raised $400,000 (€300,000) in its previous round, including $140,000 (€100,000) from Index Ventures. The team considers today’s round as an extension of last year’s seed round.
But enough with the technical terms and numbers. Seeing what TheFamily has done for the past year is even more representative than what it is currently building. I have been lucky enough to profile many of the most successful startups who are accelerated at TheFamily. In exchange for a 3 percent stake, these entrepreneurs get access to events, classes, contacts, mentors and more. Algolia, TVShow Time, Bunkr and Mindie are all part of TheFamily with 122 other startups.
We tried a billion things over the past year.
TheFamily is also a major startup event organizer in France, with monthly meetups, occasional events, a big fashion conference, or a Saturday school for aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s an important part of the company’s strategy — it’s a very scalable model (you need one speaker to talk to hundreds of people), it puts some startups on the accelerator’s radar, it creates a network of influential people around the company, and it’s a good revenue source to cover salaries and expenses.
And then, there are the weird experiments. TheFamily hasn’t shied away from trying new things, and some of them failed. For example, the accelerator promised a countryside startup castle. I have yet to visit this castle.
“We tried a billion things over the past year,” partner and CEO Alice Zagury told me in an interview. “We killed some of them, we kept others. But one thing is for sure, we will keep killing bad ideas.”
Zagury’s motto could be Facebook’s old motto, “move fast and break things.” The huge Haussmannian house where the startup is now located is a testimony of that. When the lease expired for its previous office, the team could have looked for a slightly bigger space.
Instead, they chose the hard path and aimed for a much bigger space — it’s magnificent. Even though it was expensive, TheFamily created the Koudetat+ Saturday school and sold every available spot in just a couple of weeks to cover the rent.
We can become the global Y Combinator for the rest of the world.
Finally, TheFamily’s greater goal is probably what gets people excited about the company. It’s not just an accelerator, it’s an ecosystem lobby. From an American point of view, France isn’t a startup-friendly country. Arguably, this is all changing right now. But co-founder Nicolas Colin plays an essential role when it comes to talking with officials and making these changes happen faster. What’s good for TheFamily is good for every other French startup.
When I asked about TheFamily’s future, I got an ambitious answer — it even sounded overambitious. This tiny French accelerator, which was just an idea 18 months ago, is now shooting for the stars. “All these people will guide us to our significant Series A round in 18 months,” Ammar said. “The main question is whether we will raise €5 million, €10 million or €20 million. After the Series A round, we will go global. If we build TheFamily’s infrastructure in 20 countries, we can become the global Y Combinator for the rest of the world.”
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Current list of TheFamily’s godfathers:
Antoine Remazeilles, Entrepreneur
Arthur de Catheu, Co-founder of Finexkap and Qilaqila
Bertrand Bigay, CEO at Murat Conseil et Investissements
Bruno Jacquemin, Managing Director at CCI du Loiret
Carl de Bouchony, Founder of Medicoclic.com
Duc Ha Duong, CEO at Officience
Fabien Potencier, CEO at SensioLabs
Fabrice de Gaudemar, Growth Capital investor, member of the Executive Board at Eurazeo
Francois Le Pichon, Founder & Creative Director at Steaw
Frédéric Montagnon, Founder & CEO at Secret Media Inc. Ex Codanova, OverBlog, Nomao, Ebuzzing.
Frédéric Bouleuc, Partner at Andre & Associes
Frédéric Lasnier, CEO Pentalog, Serial Entrepreneur, Startup investor
Georges Klenkle, CEO at Degetel
Grégory Pascal, Co-Founder and COO at SensioLabs. Co-Founder and CEO at Extreme Sensio
Guillaume Teboul, Associate Director at Financiere Cambon
Laurent Kratz, Experienced ICT Entrepreneur, CEO at NEOFACTO and Business Angel Investor
Marc Rougier, Founder and President at Scoop.it
Maxime Garrigues, Managing Partner at X-PRIME
OCP Finance, early-stage investment firm
Olivier Roland, Author and CEO at Les Editions Roland
Pascal Mercier, Managing Partner at Global Equities Corporate Finance
Pierre-Antoine Dusoulier, Head of Western Europe at Saxo Bank
Rumeur Publique, Public Relations and Communications
Serge Alleyne, Founder & CEO at Tok Tok Tok
Stéphanie Delestre, CEO & Co-founder at QAPA
Sylvain Zimmer, Founder at Pricing Assistant, Jamendo, dotConferences.eu
Tritan Vyskoc, Angel Investor
Yanai Zaicik, Startup Investor and Advisor