Articles on: Startup
This article is also available in:

What is a Business Angel?

The entire French entrepreneurial ecosystem underlines the importance of Business Angels.

Problem: No one is able to say who the French Business Angels really are, or how to find them.

Incubators, accelerators, investment funds, BPI, fundraisers... All agree that Business Angels are key players in the financing of startups in France, that they invest where no one else invests, that they operate more on a "first sight" basis than other players, that they are necessary in France and that they contribute a lot to the startups on which they focus.

Yet no one is able to clearly tell an entrepreneur who these Business Angels really are, and how to find them.

Not by omission, but simply because the world of Business Angels is impenetrable to those who do not make it their profession!

Reminder: What is a Business Angel?

The meaning of the title Business Angel, almost mystical, is important, because it alone explains the specificity of the Business Angel: it brings much more than money. A Business Angel, by definition, must be able to influence the startup's destiny through the skills it brings, the advice it provides, and the address book to which it gives access.

Moreover, Business Angel rhymes, in a certain sense, with irrationality: if it invests in a startup, unlike traditional financial investors, it is above all because it believes in the founding team and the market that it aims, rather than in a Business Plan. Often, the investment of the Business Angel is a matter of feeling. This is why it is (very often) the only actor to invest in seed capital, i.e. at a stage of maturity when it does not even make sense to look at the company's financial analysis because it is in its infancy.

In short, is a Business Angel only the one who:

invests his personal money
invests "smart money", i.e. he brings to the startup extra-financial skills: its sector expertise, network, managerial or entrepreneurial experience...
has extra-financial selection criteria

Be careful! There are Business Angel and Business Angel...

Since its introduction in France in the early 2000s, the term "Business Angel" has been very quickly monopolized. On the one hand, by France Angels, which brings together dozens of local networks of small investors, and on the other hand, the successful trio of entrepreneurs Xavier Niel, Jacques-Antoine Granjon and Marc Simoncini, who are omnipresent in the media when it comes to investment in startups.

However, neither of them really represent the French Business Angels.

The associations members of France Angels, even if they have participated in the emergence of the Business Angels phenomenon in France, have suggested that anyone investing €5-10k in a startup can define themselves as Business Angel. The networks of France Angels are no longer adapted to the expectations of today's entrepreneurs: investment tickets too low (around €10k/person on average - which can be a problem later on), selection processes too long and tedious, profiles not sufficiently qualified...

Xavier Niel, Jacques-Antoine Granjon and Marc Simoncini are examples of remarkable entrepreneurial successes that inspire young entrepreneurs to dream and dare. But they are not representative of French business angels.
Their media visibility, even if it contributes greatly to the growth of the Business Angels phenomenon in France, leaves very little room for other profiles of French Business Angels, with more representative characteristics: lower investment ticket (around €50k on average, compared to several hundred thousand euros for the trio), lower investment rate (around 3-4 new investments/year, against 1-2/week for Xavier Niel via his fund, Kima Ventures!), stronger involvement among the startups of their portfolio....

So who are the Business Angels?

In view of the characteristics described above, the vast majority of Business Angels are entrepreneurs who wish to participate in new entrepreneurial adventures. The fact that they have gone through all the stages of creating and developing a business themselves gives them extraordinary value for the entrepreneurs they finance.
High-level consultants and bankers, or leaders of large groups, can claim the status of Business Angel. Although the entrepreneurial experience is irreplaceable, these profiles can also bring a lot of value to startups.

They bet on teams that they find talented and friendly, that operate in markets they understand, and that will listen to and respect their opinions.

They are aware of the level of risk of their investments. Their financial motivation only comes later: indeed, if they only wanted to make their money grow, they would invest it elsewhere (real estate, private banking, stock exchange...).

So, here are some signs that will help you identify the right Business Angels:

A good Business Angel should impress you from the first meeting, and make relevant remarks. You must instantly feel that your startup will be stronger with him than without him. They are responsive: your time is precious, so is theirs. If they are interested, they will let you know as soon as possible. They are caring: they know that an entrepreneur must focus on the day-to-day management of his company. So they don't want to add an obstacle to it, and so they don't have to nitpick about details. If a Business Angel gives you too much trouble in your fundraising negotiations, there is a problem. They invest significant tickets: below €50k, it is unlikely that the Business Angel will really get involved. It can happen that very competent and experienced Business Angels invest smaller tickets (between 20 and 50k€). But in these cases, they will not be leaders in the round, but followers. And therefore, they will not be the ones from whom you will have to expect the greatest involvement afterwards. They provide good advices, even if they don't invest in your startup.

Where to find these good Business Angels?

By definition, and with few exceptions, Business Angels are not easily identifiable. This makes them difficult to find.

The Angelsquare community brings together more than 600 qualified French-speaking Business Angels, who share the following characteristics:

"Smart money"
Average ticket 60k€
Cooptation at the entrance

Updated on: 15/04/2019

Was this article helpful?

Share your feedback


Thank you!