đŸ‘» Fight đŸ’„

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I have a big mouth when it comes to call out offensive or poor behaviours in the venture capital industry. People rightfully complain about that. it’s a valid comment to say that it’s probably too much. My unacceptable excuse is that I compensate for the colluding hypocrisy of some people in our industry.

I don’t care, I do this job for the founders, not the investors. It has never been about the money. The investment enables the relationship, but I would still do this job of supporting entrepreneurs without it.

Let’s take off the pink glasses, I don’t live in a yes world. I like to pick fights for two reasons: The first one is to defend someone who is suffering from a disrespectful and hurtful behaviour. The second one is to get into a constructive conflict during which I intend to potentially change my opinion/perception of things.

If you are in the first category and suddenly decide to engage with me into the latter, I will reject it, as someone shall first make amend for their mistakes with rightful intentions, and attempt to clean-up their mess.

I hate hypocrisy.

As I said to an investor yesterday over email yesterday
 “If we are not aligned in the way we conduct business, it’s useless. If at one point in the future, we are aligned, let’s collaborate. For now, let us stop there.”

And more recently over Whatsapp to a Partner at one of the top venture capital firms in the US who was fishing for deals the week before in Europe: “Disappointed by your silence regarding this deal. It's not the output that matters the most, but how the situation could have been handled around the circumstances. I must say, quite poorly this time. Let's hope for better future collaborations.”

Actions matter of course, but rightful intentions are the foundations. And it always translates in the way we do things from a behavioural standpoint.

Are you familiar with the notion of Growth Mindset ? In short, individuals tend to achieve more if they worry less about appearance and instead put more energy into learning, through hard work, strategy and input from others.

The latter is a matter of open-mindedness and rational compassion, which are respectively our ability to fully welcome the views from others, contemplating the possibility they might be right, and to put ourselves in their shoes, trying to understand their feelings.

Those elementary aspects for a fruitful discussion are only possible if the parties respect each others and have rightful intentions.

Many times, this is not the ground that is set during an argument or a conflict. People are masters when it comes to hide behind excuses of all sorts, run away from their responsibilities, deny their faults, or force their views.

I don’t think I can change how people behave. Sometimes, we speak our mind, call out wrongful behaviours with no impact, without the ability to provide a solution, and it is frustrating to feel powerless.

This post is for the ones who care and believe that they could do better in the way they engage with people in discussions, negotiations, conflicts.

It’s about positive honesty.

As for entrepreneurs, I advise you to read the two tomes of the five dysfunctions of a team from Patrick Lencioni in order to set the ground for a thriving organisation.

In the meantime, enjoy this late discovery

I will share with the audience on radiochateau.live today !

A word from Kima - Speed beats Perfection

This is the short note that we shared with our portfolio founders

Publishing the short note that we shared with our portfolio founders


Dear founders,

By the time this letter reaches your inbox, you have already started to communicate with your employees, customers, more broadly any kind of stakeholders. You have started to implement a work-from-home policy and you know that this is not an exercise. You are facing an unprecedented situation.

Many of you have reached out to us in order to gather our comments.

No predictions.
Just precautions.

In January, many of us were joking about it, in February we were kind of moving on already, and in March we simply got caught unexpectedly. Nobody’s laughing anymore. It’s a raw demonstration of how blind and clueless most of us are when it comes to the exponential effects of any given organic situation. Very few have experienced it, those who did will always admit that it came as a surprise. We only rationalize looking backwards. 

It could be 3, 6 or 9 months before we get back to real business. And we don’t know what “back to real business” actually means in terms of intensity.

Be a first mover, have no regrets.
Act fast and now. Here are three precautions:

Gain clarity on your numbers, act upon them, fast, now. Analyze your cohort. People are in survival mode. To save money, people will cut services and miss payments. If your growth rate tends toward zero as people stop spending, that your churn rate increases as people cut or default on recurring payments, your activity might be steady at the very best, but realistically, it could be worst.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Employees expect news from you, on a daily basis. Do not fail them. Stress is a factor against performance. Fun stuff / Positive news / Life hacks... All those things contribute to how people will overcome this situation. Shopify just offered $1000 to their employees so they can get the appropriate equipment. You probably can’t provide that much but do what is in your power so they are and feel supported.

You will fight for attention from your current investors, against other portfolio companies. There will be prioritization, whether it’s fair or not doesn’t matter unfortunately. On top of that, your valuation could potentially suffer, whether it’s now or in few months time. Master pro-active strategy, execution, and communication to maximize your chances. If you can get additional runway, go for it.

You can’t beat the situation. If you need to be right before you move, you will never win. You will have to cut things, to reallocate resources. Not in weeks or months, now.

The only thing we truly regret is inaction.
Speed beats perfection.

Yours truly,

Alexis, Jean, Jeanne

— 

Readings

Peacetime CEO / Wartime CEO

Cash, Culture, Creativity

Cash, Culture, Creativity

Racing under slippery circumstances

Metaphor & GIFs ahead.

Sky the limit

When the curve is on the rise, even though we secretly fear the crash, we act like nothing bad could ever happen.

Expectations are high, conditions are great and small mistakes here and there don’t seem to have much impact. We raise more money, burn more, take more risk & some shortcuts.

The tires are burning a little, but every other players are driving super fast as well.

In the paddock, people are kind of enjoying the show and somewhat resting, even though they wear their equipment, ready to act if necessary.

video games car GIF

Then comes the rain

You had planned everything, except this.

It came so fast, so unexpectedly. There is no choice, you must act accordingly here & now if you want to have a chance to make it throughout the turbulences towards there & then.

rain save GIF

Everything is changing. Fast.

The visibility is limited, the new conditions imply adaptation, and small mistakes suddenly seem like they could be fatal.

Everyone is rushing into the paddock.

formula one precision GIF

The moto is simple: keep the engine running, manage the duality of driving reasonably fast. Focus on the things that matter. Speed of reaction, pace of execution, precision of action.

  • Speed of reaction is critical. You can’t go back in time, everything you do now matter for the future, every step you miss is a potential liability or fatality. Cash is a variable, not an infinite resource. Be extra-rational.

  • Pace of execution. Keep high velocity, even though it’s under a lower degree of activity. Keep your people busy and active, but also socially present with virtual gatherings and regular updates.

  • Precision of action. Your margin of error is limited under uncertain and tough circumstances. Require excellence from your team, in everything they do. Accountability gives a sense of togetherness, it’s the ciment of your culture.

It’s not a question of whether the rain will stop or not. It’s fucking raining and you have no clue when it’s going to stop nor how long it will take for the track to dry up.

CASH, CULTURE, CREATIVITY.

crashing crash landing GIF

Your cash is impacted by your burn rate, your churn, your growth. the burn rate depends on your cost structure, subject to churn and growth rate. It’s simple math. Your churn might increase, your growth rate might decrease. Do not add additional pressure on your cost structure. On the contrary, contain it or better, be more rational about it. Not only your survival is at risk, but also your valuation will probably take a hit. Be cautious, take additional money if you can to extend your runway.

Image result for 5 dysfunctions of a team pyramid

Your culture will hold strong only if you manage to keep the pyramid of trust, commitment and results intact and reinforced. Communicate regularly, thoroughly towards employees, investors, partners, customers. More importantly, listen to them as they share their fears and concerns. It’s in the struggle that we see the true face of the culture one has crafted.

zen bruce lee GIF

Let’s be optimistic for a moment. The best thing that can happen during the worst moment is that it triggers a mechanism of singularity as your system reference all of a sudden ceases to exist as you know it. You’re out of your comfort zone, which can foster creativity under the right circumstances. Use this as an opportunity for your team to come up with innovative ideas, different paths and approaches to problems and challenges.

Now what ?

Some of us benefit from better conditions under those circumstances, some of us already suffer from brutal consequences, regardless fairness that isn’t the currency of the world we live in. To mitigate the impact, we shall be coming together to help one another.

Startup tourists will soon become deserters.

As for the others


Keep riding the tide until the sun rises again because it always does :)


It’s all Upside Down

Ambition

Lesson from a bakery

On the 30th of August, 2019, I received a message from Louis, a baker based in Dijon, the capital of Burgundy.

In his email, he mentioned his mindset, his ambition, his will to scale and grow his business! Surprising, touching, intriguing.

Ibanfirst, our discreet portfolio company despite its impressive results, has its engineering team based in Dijon. With Pierre-Antoine, the CEO, we went there a couple of weeks ago to meet with them, and have diner with Louis Tortochot and his wife the evening before.

Amusing part of the story
 when Louis and I started our thread few months ago and until very recently, I didn't know that he was participating in a national tv contest and would be soon rewarded with the title of French best bakery.

We discussed about many things in regards to the expansion of his business during that diner. But one question was still unanswered : where did his ambition come from?

A couple of years ago, he reached out to a successful entrepreneur based in Dijon. After a couple of genuine conversations, this person invited Louis and his wife to fly over to Newport Beach where he would meet with even more successful entrepreneurs. There he learnt the meaning of ambition, that most boundaries are the ones we set for ourselves rather than just constraints from the world.

After this inspirational trip, he came back to France with the will to build something bigger than a local bakery.

Louis has all the qualities from our best entrepreneurs: he is obsessed, he works hard, he never stops learning, he experiments a lot, he takes risk, and also take some radical decisions.

But more importantly, he's rationally limitless. Louis is an incredible example to follow, an entrepreneur at heart who pursued his ambition, reached out to people with the right approach, and traveled abroad to open his mind.

We encourage often our portfolio entrepreneurs to fly over to San Francisco to breath the fresh air of peer pressure and ambition. They are sometimes reluctant to do so


Afraid to be far from the team? learn to be present while absent. Detect operational or team discrepancies thanks to your absence.

It's not going to be a game changer? You don't know what you don't know. Don't draw conclusions so fast, very very very few people regret that trip, or often it's because they didn't engage properly with the local ecosystem.

As for Louis, regardless if he builds something big or not, he made me realise that ambition is within reach of all people, and that it’s mostly tied to the limits we set or think exist.

Next 40 & French Tech 120: Sale histoire

“On est pas sĂ©lectionnĂ© par la FT pour le next 120 alors que l’on croit de 10x en 2 ans. As tu un pouvoir de nĂ©gociation avec eux? C’est un peu hallucinant cette histoire...”

“Pour info, on a pas Ă©tĂ© sĂ©lectionnĂ© dans le FT120.... Arnaque ! 2500% de croissance en 3 ans, cette annĂ©e on fera plus de 50M, mĂ©ga rentable, et en plus c’est eux qui sont venus me voir pour nous demander de postuler
”

Je ne peux rien faire.
Passe Ă  autre chose.
Sale histoire.

Le classement French Tech 120, Ă  part les mĂ©dias tech qui vont savoir quoi faire la semaine prochaine, les entrepreneurs et investisseurs en manque d’inspiration pendant leurs discussions d’afterwork, et Ă©videmment les sĂ©lectionnĂ©s
 Le reste s’en moque un peu, mĂȘme s’ils s’en plaignent.

Je ne me suis jamais mĂȘlĂ© de ces classements, ils ne m’intĂ©ressent absolument pas. Notre portefeuille de startups chez Kima Ventures reprĂ©sente 25% du Next 40, et si collectivement nous devions prendre une initiative forte, ce serait probablement celle de se retirer, en remerciant le gouvernement de ses bonnes intentions.

On se trompe parfois, il suffit juste de l’accepter, d’apprendre et de rectifier le tir. MĂȘme si j’ai peu d’espoir qu’ils retirent cette fausse bonne idĂ©e bien engagĂ©e, ça vexerait probablement quelques personnes.

DĂ©jĂ  vu

Entre 2008 et 2011, j’accompagnais des entreprises, dites de petites tailles (un chiffre d’affaires de quelques dizaines de millions d’euros par an, tout juste rentable), dans leurs opĂ©rations de cotation sur Alternext, renommĂ© Euronext Growth en juin 2017.

Les arguments que nous avancions pour convaincre les entrepreneurs de rĂ©aliser une telle opĂ©ration Ă©taient toujours les mĂȘmes:

  • C’est bon pour la notoriĂ©tĂ© de l’entreprise;

  • Ca permet de crĂ©er de la liquiditĂ©;

  • On peut ensuite se financer sur le marchĂ©.

Seulement, aucun de ces arguments n’était valable, en tous les cas pas pour les entreprises de cette taille:

  • Quand vous ĂȘtes une petite entreprise, c’est votre vĂ©ritable rĂ©ussite qui permet de bĂątir une notoriĂ©tĂ© durable, et vos quelques passages dans les mĂ©dias s’estompent rapidement. Le fait que vous soyez cotĂ©s, honnĂȘtement, tout le monde s’en moque;

  • Pour qu’il y ait de la liquiditĂ©, il faut de l’offre et de la demande, de maniĂšre suffisamment abondante pour que les Ă©changes soient frĂ©quents, dynamiques, et que le prix que reflĂštent ces Ă©changes soit le plus proche possible de la vĂ©ritable valeur de marchĂ© de l’entreprise. Sauf que ces entreprises sont petites, vulnĂ©rables, avec des perspectives de croissance incertaines. Rares sont donc les investisseurs qui s’y risquent. La liquiditĂ© est donc limitĂ©e.

  • Enfin, pour se faire financer, il ne suffit pas d’ĂȘtre cotĂ©, il faut ĂȘtre crĂ©dible. Et bien que le fait d’ĂȘtre cotĂ© en bourse suppose que l’entreprise publie des comptes de maniĂšre rĂ©guliĂšre et rigoureuse, ça ne prĂ©vaut pas de sa performance. Donc pour se faire financer, le marchĂ© n’est qu’un moyen comme un autre, avec les mĂȘmes exigences.

Je n’ai pas besoin de vous convaincre que le marchĂ© cotĂ© des entreprises de petites et moyennes tailles est une aberration, les chiffres parlent d’eux mĂȘme:

Mi 2007, deux ans aprĂšs sa crĂ©ation, Alternext (Euronext Growth) comptait prĂšs de 100 sociĂ©tĂ©s cotĂ©es reprĂ©sentant un encours de 5,4 milliards d'euros. Une prouesse se disait-on, alors qu’en rĂ©alitĂ©, c’était juste un appel d’air sans rĂ©elle substance. En 2019, plus de dix ans aprĂšs, l’indice d’Euronext Growth comptait 200 sociĂ©tĂ©s cotĂ©es totalisant une capitalisation boursiĂšre de 12,1 milliards d’euros. Ces sociĂ©tĂ©s avait levĂ© 128 millions d’euros lors d’opĂ©rations primaires, un maigre pĂ©cule. Et avec une capitalisation boursiĂšre mĂ©diane de 23 millions d’euros, on ne peut pas dire que ce soit trĂšs flamboyant.

Sur un marchĂ© rĂ©gulĂ© et rĂ©glementĂ©, censĂ© sĂ©lectionner des entreprises pour leur sĂ©rieux malgrĂ© leur taille modeste, qui exige d’ailleurs que ses participants publient leurs comptes de maniĂšre rĂ©guliĂšre et rigoureuse, les instigateurs peinent Ă  crĂ©er l’émulation qu’ils espĂ©raient tant.

Alors imaginez pour des startups 😅

L’histoire se rĂ©pĂšte

Quand on parle donc des indices Next 40 et French Tech 120, malheureusement, on connait dĂ©jĂ  l’histoire
 Et les perspectives qu’offrent les prĂ©mices ne sont pas brillantes:

Comment votre startup est-elle sélectionnée ?

Il faut postuler, sur la base de l’argent que vous avez rĂ©ussi Ă  lever et sur votre croissance Ă©videmment. Pas de panique sur les sujets liĂ©s Ă  la rentabilitĂ©, on n’est pas lĂ  pour parler des sujets qui fĂąchent. En revanche, si vous n’avez pas levĂ© d’argent, et que votre croissance rentable est maitrisĂ©e, merci d’aller voir ailleurs. Vous brulez une tonne d’argent avec un manque manifeste de visibilitĂ© malgrĂ© l’hyper croissance que vous affichez, aucun problĂšme, vous ĂȘtes carrĂ©ment Ă©ligible, avec une belle chance que votre boite soit sĂ©lectionnĂ©e.

Hyper-croissance, pour vous donner un petit ordre d’idĂ©e, on parle notamment de boites qui sont passĂ©es de 10 Ă  20M de chiffre d’affaires, en perdant 15 Ă  20M sur la mĂȘme pĂ©riode
 Ou certaines dont le volume d’affaires est passĂ© de 20 Ă  40M en un an, alors que leur commission avoisine timidement les 15%. En gros, elles font un petit plus de 5M de chiffre d’affaires


Souriez, ce n’est pas fini :)

Que se passe-t-il tous les ans pour ces indices ?

Personne ne le sait
 Est ce qu’on les renouvelle, comme une saison sportive, en faisant monter les nouvelles pĂ©pites et en dĂ©gradant les autres ?

Si on ne le fait pas, on ne tient pas compte des évolutions du marché, ce classement devient une aberration. Et si on le fait, on range les anciens au placard, comme des perdants non-méritants, et ce classement devient un beau casse-pipe.

Belle impasse. Beau message.

Que pouvez vous gagner ?

Si vous ĂȘtes sĂ©lectionnĂ©s, vous pouvez bĂ©nĂ©ficier de privilĂšges que les autres entreprises n’auront pas. Donc on dĂ©cide, suite Ă  une sĂ©lection impossible Ă  rĂ©aliser de maniĂšre diligente, de mettre en avant des entreprises face Ă  d’autres. Oui, je parle de vous lĂ  bas, ceux au fond, qui ont rien demandĂ© mais qui visiblement sont moins importantes que les autres puisque vous n’aurez pas le mĂȘme traitement de faveur, dĂ©solĂ©.

Par exemple, si vous ĂȘtes un entrepreneur dont la sociĂ©tĂ© a 50M en banque, qui rĂ©alise 30M de chiffre d’affaires pour 10M de rĂ©sultat opĂ©rationnel, en croissance de 200% par rapport Ă  l’annĂ©e prĂ©cĂ©dente, en gĂ©nĂ©rant 90% de votre chiffre d’affaires Ă  l’International, ça peut donner ça


Conclusion

Il est irresponsable de figer un classement d’entreprises dont l’équilibre Ă©conomique est extrĂȘmement fragile, qui perdent autant d’argent qu’elles en lĂšvent, et pour lesquelles l’avenir est trĂšs incertain malgrĂ© leur volontĂ© farouche de devenir des icĂŽnes.

C’est comme si Kima Ventures dĂ©cidait de publier les 42 meilleurs boites de son portefeuille, envoyant ainsi un message aux quelques 750 autres comme quoi elles ne sont pas dignes de reconnaissance. C’est sans aucun doute injuste. Et dĂ©gueulasse.

Pour autant, dans un monde discrĂ©tionnaire, tout le monde a sa chance, c’est une compĂ©tition qu’on peut tous gagner si on en a rĂ©ellement envie. Il faut choisir la course qu’on peut gagner et progresser Ă  mesure qu’on accumule les victoires.

Pour finir sur une note positive, il faut rappeler tout de mĂȘme que le gouvernement agit relativement vite et bien sur certains sujets cruciaux comme les plans d’intĂ©ressement salariĂ©s ou encore l’embauche de talents Ă©trangers. Ce sont des mesures incroyables qui changent rĂ©ellement la donne sur le dĂ©veloppement des futures icĂŽnes françaises de la tech.

Maintenant, haut les coeurs !
On a du boulot :)

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