How a great Startup transforms itself into a great SCALE-UP

Since its creation and one financing round after another, Evaneos has rapidly worked its way out of the “startup zone” to become one of the sexiest French scaleups to date. Since the Series B financing round lead by XAnge in 2013 the team has performed outstandingly: reinvesting in this 80 million dollars series D with our friends at Partech, Level Equity and Quadrille Capital was a no-brainer.

Rule #1 : Great startups get great money

Figures first. This D round is one of the largest VC-funded operation this year for a French startup. In January Ledger, a hardware cryptocurrency wallet startup backed by XAnge, had already raised a stunning 75 million dollars from international funds. This means serious VC money is available for the best startups. Until a couple years ago, we lamented the lack of ambition of the French startup ecosystem despite amazing projects. Let’s be frank, sometimes the local funds also were a little short on ambition when it was time to go global. How was it possible to give birth to such good businesses and technologies, and not have the financial muscle to support their growth and international ambitions?

Today I am glad to report that a good startup or scale-up can find all the capital it needs. And this is a great news:

  • French VCs raised €2.7 billion in 2017, making them the European leaders for the first time ever (UK funds follow with €2.3 billion). The momentum is stunning: French VCs had raised €1.6 billion in 2016, €1.1 billion in 2015 and… €0.3 billion in 2014. The amounts being invested into startups logically follows the same path. According to EY Barometer, the number of startups to have raised between €10–20 million between the first half of 2017 and the first half of 2018 doubled (36), while the overall amount collected rose from €230 million to €450 million. The same applies to the €20–50m range, where French leaders were 18 to raise €596m, compared with only 9 for a total of €260m a year earlier.
  • In the meantime, investments from across the Channel and the US are on the rise, as French startups are more and more attractive for Anglo-Saxons investors. Think about Ledger, Algolia, Believe, Payfit, Dataiku, Qapa, Dashlane, Qonto, Virtuo and many others…

Rule #2 Passion makes it all work

How cliché is that? The most successful ventures we know (at least the ones we funded) all have in common to be lead by passionate and dedicated founders. One could describe the EVANEOS founders, Eric & Yvan as just “two bright engineers”. But what I see is two guys who have always had a passion for travelling and who love to see a smile on a customer’s face. They also give a strong attention to feedback and detail, which has had a big impact on the fate of their business: what’s a better way to enter the tailor-made travel industry than through passion and a precise understanding of customer needs?

Personalization works better than ever and Evaneos’ ability to listen to their customer’s travel interests, to be able to automatically propose the best tours and then measure their satisfaction, is part of their secret sauce. While some of the major tour operators have started offering personalized experiences on their websites and catalogs, I believe this is a good opportunity for Evaneos to showcase its capacity to offer the best service possible thanks to its agility and technological advance.

What I love about Evaneos:

  • The two founders, of course. Eric & Yvan were recommended to us by our friends at Dolead, in 2013. It’s been a very exciting ride ever since.
  • It’s a marketplace (you know how much we love marketplaces at XAnge), and a very healthy one. A capital efficient model, no inventory requirements, a growing list of destinations (160+) and travel experiences, an efficient tool to allow local travel agencies to sell the best personalized experiences as possible while growing rapidly: all about it is virtuous.
  • Confidential gone global. When Eric & Yvan started, tailor-made travel was a rather confidential segment of tourism. It still is, in a certain way, relative to the overall size of the global market. They are now rapidly building their presence in Europe and building a great brand at mid-range between luxury and mass-market. Since we joined them in 2013, Evaneos has undergone a solid growth, year after year, thanks to the diversity of its offering, opening 160 destinations with more than 1 800 local agencies!
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