We give the Mic to Arnaud Delattre, the White Knight of Venture Capital
Today our MC is Arnaud Delattre, CEO of Starquest Capital. Arnaud is altogether the last of the Mohicans and one of the first men on the moon. He believes in chivalrous values: courage, honor, bravery, loyalty, and commitment. This doesn’t sound like aggressive shark business attitude. And yet, he turned his principles into an efficient business model. Let’s discover his views and convictions.
“Starting up a business teaches you humility. The people who get the economy moving towards the right sense of history are invisible, inaudible. They over-work and are underpaid, but they are independent, and freedom is priceless. You have to jump into the wild. I respect that so much, I created my VC fund with Emmanuel Gaudé to empower courageous people of that sort. I support those who shake things up and push the boundaries. The true entrepreneur is not a cannibal. His project is not to destroy and eat in the nest of others like a cuckoo. He creates value with no negative externalities.
We live in a world where social mobility doesn’t work anymore. Entrepreneurship has become the only way to move up when you’re not an heir. That’s what I wake up to every morning. The challenging goal is to subvert the hegemonic position of cartels and oligopolies. The best entrepreneurs are sorts of libertarians. I am no utopist though. I am more of a true liberal. I want money to flood and flow on every worthy project. I am fighting for a meritocratic and democratic society that would champion risk-taking.
When Starquest invests in a business, we know we are going to finance the equity gap and be exposed to higher risk.We don’t want to over-judicialize the relationship with the entrepreneurs. Lawyers index their business plan on the level of your troubles, so we try to stay away from them as far as possible. Although our form is corporate, our attitude is collaborative. I prefer to sustain projects connected to deep-seated trends forging a progressive and liable society on the long-term.
Iam an optimist. The new generations are empowering. I find it reassuring that people don’t believe in the media anymore. They are more lucid than some would say. Everybody knows that the French ecosystem in venture capital malfunctions. Lobbying before the Senate is obvious. Most of the biggest firms organize their world to make it impenetrable. Theoretically, the equation risk/profit should be economically healthy, but 90% of the money invested in venture capital thanks to fiscal incentives fled to risk-free and/or innovation-free investments and speculation. It is true that investing in young startups specialized in deep tech, cybersecurity, or green energy is way harder than speculating on real estate. We fight for companies with little assurance that they are going to perform. But we fight with conviction and our track record is the proof of our sound work. I believe in the saying “work hard in silence, and let your success be your noise.”
Indoors, I promote learning-by-doing management with my team. I deal with digital native Millennials who don’t want to work like we used to. They can be hyper-productive and still come to work in pajamas. They cost me a limb in candies and junk food, they party, they travel, they laugh loudly and listen to bloody music, they even are sometimes impertinent. They definitely want to be free and make a difference. They know that true generosity towards the future consists of giving everything to the present, and they spare no effort. They have the nerve to stand for what they believe in, even though the reality of society is sometimes disappointing. They get their heart broken by the previous generations from time to time, but they take the hit and bounce back. I am so proud of them for that. That is why I would not be in this game without them. It is not easy to hold long money in hot risk zones. Excel sheets won’t be of any use to you in case of difficulty. Emotional and relational aspects of the business are so important; you can make a difference as long as you have intelligence, guts, and wild instincts.”