Raising money in the US when you are a (tiny) French start-up
“French VCs, European VCs, … Meh. We will raise money in the US”.
This is a sentence that I hear quite a lot in Paris these days. And yeah I get it, raising money in the US remains the absolute proof of success when you are a French entrepreneur.
Plus, in 2015, two French/US rounds had the chance to be well covered by the tech media: Snips Series A and La Ruche qui dit oui Series B.
I’m not exactly sure why, but it led people to think that it’s now super easy to raise money from the US.
(Spoiler alert: it’s not.)
But let’s say that you’d like to give it a try anyway. How do you do it?
To answer that question, we (@Joris_Thom and I) gathered data from venture databases and VC websites and tried to make sure we didn’t miss any deals.
Also to make sure we’re drawing a realistic picture of the landscape…
- we excluded companies that have been US-based from the start such as Lending Club, Wit.ai, Placemeter, Insensi, Mindie, … , even though their founders are French.
- we did not consider the London offices of American VCs as US based VCs (e.g. the European teams of Accel, Index, Google Ventures or DFJ). Although well connected with their US counterparts, they are led by independent teams and based in London, which makes them European VCs and not American VCs.
And here’s what we found:
only 20 startups
based in France
from US VCs
That’s less than 1% of the 3000 venture deals which happened in that time frame.
Who made it to the glorious 1%?
7 Series A:
DocTrackr (Atlas & Polaris),
Front (SoftTech VC, BOLDStart Ventures, Caffeinated Capital),
Holidog (private investors),
Misterbnb (MicroVentures, Pole Capital, 500 start-ups),
PriceMatch (Tekton Venture),
Snips (The Hive, Eniac, 500 start-ups)
5 Series B:
Algolia (Storm Ventures),
La Ruche qui dit oui (Union Square Ventures),
Novapost (US bureau of Accel),
RedBird (The Commercial Drone Fund),
Sketchfab (FirstMark Capital, Techstars)
8 Series C and next:
Believe Digital (TCV, GP Bullhoud Sidecar),
Blablacar (Lead Edge Capital),
Criteo (Bessemer Ventures),
Kyriba (Upfront Ventures),
RAD (Vaizra Investments),
Scality (Menlo Ventures),
Sigfox (Elliott Management Corporation),
Talend (Silver Lake Partners)
But what made them stand out? Notwithstanding their off the chart traction…
1. Most of them had already raised from a European VC before (or during) their US round
As you can see from our small list, 2/3 of the US rounds are Series B or later.
- Algolia raised a first round from the talented people at Alven, Index and Point Nine before receiving $1.2m from Storm Ventures (and then, yeah, $18m from Accel).
- La Ruche qui dit oui raised a Series A from XAnge before their $8m round with Union Square Ventures (Believe did too). And Sketchfab raised its first round from no less than than Balderton and Partech.
- Two former clients of ours, Talend and Kyriba, raised not just their Series A but also their Series B in France before their US rounds, from IdInvest and Iris.
- Pricematch onboarded Tekton Ventures with Partech during its Series A.
2. The rest of them went to Techstars, the YC or 500 startups before raising their US round
- Front for instance was funded right after completing the Y Combinator acceleration program, and ended up West Coast flipping the company. (btw, Algolia went to YC too)
- Misterbnb, Snips, and Holidog went to 500 startups
- DocTrackr (and Sketchfab) went to Techstars
- Only Finexcap managed to fly under the accelerators’ radar
Conclusion: still want to raise money in the US in a few months’ time?
Then start by applying to the best US accelerators.
Or be ready to raise a badass European round
and if you pick the later, don’t forget to give us a call.
At Chausson Finance, we match smart money with great companies.
In the first six months of 2015, we have already helped raise €24m:
- Alkemics €5m Series A with Index Ventures (UK),
- Take Eat Easy’s €6m Series A with Rocket Internet (GE), DN Capital (UK) and Piton Capital (UK)
- Cheerz’s €6m Series A with Serena Capital (FR)
- Famoco’s €4m Series B with Hi Inov, BPI and Aurinvest (FR)
- Habiteo’s €3m Series A with Serena Capital (FR)
You can also check out our previous article about the 5 key ingredients to raise €2m and more.
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