Our first exit: Sodexo acquires Foodcheri

An early validation of our investment thesis

Today we’re delighted to announce our first exit, and we do so in the best scenario possible. In one of our industries of expertise, FoodTech, and involving returns well over the target of the fund.

Sodexo S.A., a leading $17Bn market cap French publicly-listed food services and facilities management company with operations in over 80 countries, has acquired a majority stake in FoodChéri, the fourth member of our growing portfolio family. Founded in 2015, FoodChéri is a virtual restaurant that lets customers order fresh, chef-prepared meals that are chilled and ready-to-reheat and consume upon delivery, targeting both the B2C and the B2B2C market.

Exits after a short period of time leave you with mixed feelings. On one side, we are incredibly happy for the FoodChéri team because it’s a reward for all their hard work. We’re also very happy for our LPs (Samaipata’s investors) because of the attractive returns delivered. At the same time, we can’t help being sad to see such an amazing team and great project leave our portfolio in a short period of time. Moreover, we at Samaipata are very happy with the news as they are an early validation of our investment thesis and the opportunities in the European venture capital market.

But, before I move on into our own retrospective of FoodChéri’s story, I’d like to give the real credit to those who deserve it. Congratulations Patrick, Julia and the FoodChéri team! you’ve done and incredible job so far and this is just the beginning, the best is yet to come. We at Samaipata feel honoured to have been part of the journey!

Let’s start by the beginning, two years ago. Everything started by doing one of our industry deep-dives across the globe, in that case we were looking for interesting trends and companies in the FoodTech industry. I wrote about it in another post a while ago, pointing out that we found the “almost ready to eat” segment very interesting. We firmly believed there was a real opportunity to build something great there. Check out the slide we shared back then!

Thus, we focused our efforts on the space of “almost ready to eat” meals and we were lucky to find an extraordinary entrepreneur, Patrick Asdaghi with an outstanding background: Telecom engineer @ Imperial College, Harvard MBA, CMO at La Fourchette among other interesting experiences. He was working on something very close to the intersection of where we thought the opportunity lied: FoodChéri. I still remember one of our associates running through the corridor of our Madrid office saying: “I’ve found it!”

It was love at first sight. We met the team in Paris, and were very impressed with what they were building. Moreover, co-investing with another founders-fund, our friends of Breega, made us feel very comfortable, as we were very aligned in our vision of the opportunity and the company.

Since we first met back in January 2016, we’ve done our best and worked our hardest to help the company, we have had a lot of fun, we have felt in love (even more) with Paris and have enjoyed every bit of working alongside such a great team of people and group of investors.

Why we’re so happy about this news?

Apart from the most relevant fact which is that we feel full of joy for the founders of our portfolio companies when they are rewarded for their hard work, there are a few additional reasons why this news makes us at Samaipata particularly happy.

  1. Closing the investment loop for the first time
  • As an emerging VC firm, like in any start-up, launching is always hard and it requires a lot of work and effort. An exit represents somehow the first complete investment cycle and also the first feedback loop to learn from. We raise money, find opportunities to invest, help them scale and exit. Having done so in just 24 months of existence make us feel happy and proud of all the hard work and all the efforts made by the Samaipata team (Actually it reminds me a lot of launching my start-up. I explained a bit more about this here)

2. There’s liquidity in the European venture capital market

  • VC, as an asset class, has always had this stigma about the lack of liquidity, specially in Europe. Again, here our vision is optimistic as the exit volumes are growing steadily due to both IPO’s, buy-outs and acquisitions, as shown in the graph below:

3. Corporates doing M&A and the growth of CVC’s

  • At Samaipata we firmly believe — and have been arguing so since launch- that corporates are, and will continue, doing more and more M&A (both minority and majority investments) as a way to ‘outsource’ innovation. The rise of CVC’s is an excellent example of this fact. This graph below proves this from a more helicopter view.

4. There is high value in being thematic:

  • We are a thematic fund focusing on marketplaces and vertical brands, having invested in 8 companies in the space in the last two years.
  • We strongly believe in being thematic/specialised, we believe in the virtuous cycle created by focusing on certain sectors and geographies, on which we build in-depth expertise. Being focused allows us to add more value to the entrepreneurs in our portfolio, who benefit from our sector knowledge and relevant network, as well as from synergies with the rest of the portfolio. Moreover, it gives us access to the most qualified deal flow, as we become an investor of reference on marketplaces and vertical brands.

5. There’s value in our Pan-European approach

  • Since the very beginning, Samaipata stands as a fully-fledged Pan-European fund. We believe that in order to access the best deal flow in the spaces we focus on, we cannot just focus in our home country (Spain). We’re proud to be Spanish-born and strongly believe in the Spanish market but we invest across Europe. That’s why we recently opened an office in London and we are hiring a senior associate to be our person in the ground in Paris

Not much left to say but that we are incredibly grateful and proud to have been an active part of FoodChéri’s amazing journey and can´t wait to see the amazing future ahead brought by the partnership with Sodexo. Best of luck Patrick, Julia and team :)

On our side, we at Samaipata we continue working very hard to find, back and support exceptional founders. It’s our job and we love it! If you’re project fits our thesis get in touch!