The third installment in the ‘Ask the VC’ series goes to Charles-Antoine Morand, Partner at Newfund.
As a brief introduction, how did you make your way into Newfund and how would you describe yourself?
I joined Newfund in 2009 as the third man in the team. The fund had been founded a year earlier by F. Véron and P. Malka. I have a financial background and have been working with SMEs for the last 20 years or so, with a strong focus on innovation. I am a technology enthusiast who is very excited about what the future holds!
Tell us more about the current fund and the companies you look to invest in.
Newfund has over €200M AUM. We invest in innovative companies with dedicated entrepreneurs (who are invested financially) and which have early commercial traction. We would typically be considered as seed/series A investors.
What variables do you use to make your decisions?
One way to picture my job would be to spot opportunities behind entrepreneurs so a great combination of team/innovation/client would be the first variable I would consider.
How would you say Newfund differs from the other VCs in Paris?
We believe innovation can arise in any sector, not just “hashtag” ones, so we try to stay hungry for it. As an example, we invested in a robotic surgery company in 2010 when few people were interested in it and also in an automotive gas testing solution just before the Volkswagen diesel gate.
What are the most notable exits Newfund has had to date?
In 2015, we exited MobPartner a mobile affiliation platform which had grown from nothing to €25 million revenues in less than 3 years. The company was eventually sold to Cheetah Mobile, listed on NYSE.
This summer, Zimmer Biomet acquired Medtech Surgical, a robotic surgery med-tech company which Newfund was the first to back and also the second largest shareholder to the CEO.
What are your thoughts on what makes a good founding team/Founder?
Will, courage and management skills for the CEO and execution talents for his team.
What have been some of your favorite companies to invest in and why?
Of course nice exits tend to bias our opinion slightly but the truth is, it is rarely a nice and easy way to the top, more often a bumpy road.
We’re proud to have backed great entrepreneurs and great success stories, but with close to 50 active portfolio companies, we have many more exciting companies whether they’re now on a clear path to success such as Tageos in the RFID space, or still in the making such as Quasardb in Big Data, a 100 Gbits/s transactional database.
What is your Investment focus outside of France?
It is the same as for France but we tend to invest with local people/funds we know in order to bridge the cultural gap.
The French government has been the most active venture investor in 2016 though BPI France. France is also very startup friendly with numerous benefits for entrepreneurs although this is not widely known or well represented. Why? What needs to be done?
There has been a lot of French bashing, even by the French, and the word hasn’t fully come across yet but clearly the French environment for startups can be today considered as entrepreneur and business friendly in regards to financial (grants, loans, access to capital), tax and infrastructure.