Portfolio Analysis and Key Learnings — Atomico Angel Programme 2020
In 2020, I had the chance to be part of Atomico Angel Programme. I want to reflect in this article how it went, what were my investments, and what I learned from it, in case it can help futur members of such scout programmes, or anyone that want to become a Business Angel. I believe it can also help founders who want to reach out to BAs, and more specifically those part of scout programmes.
In a nutshell, this “scout programme” by Atomico invites individuals to become Business Angels, with a budget of $100k at your disposal. Selection is by recommendation (Thanks again Roxanne Varza) but they usually look for people who have strong startup experience and network, but have not become BA yet because of money disposal. More on the 2020 Angel Programme announcement here.
Conditions for the Scout programme were pretty simple, I could invest in pretty much every startup I wanted if it respected some simple ethics rule, and I had to deploy the money in at least 2 deals. Of course, every deal had to go through KYC process so that Atomico admin team could approve it.
A the beginning of the programme, I announced I wanted to focus my investment around impact, and especially three areas
I had also announced I wanted to make sure my investment would be as diverse as possible, and with diversity I meant having women and men as founders, not only white and not only from Paris (but my focus was to invest in France-based startups).
I have invested in six startups thanks to the Atomico Angel Programme. Needless to say how excited I am to be modestly part of such startup journeys.
- Biloba On demand pediatric consultation
- vorteX.io Hydrology monitoring services with compact space-based altimeters
- Colori Teaching kids to code without screens, Montessori-based.
- Koalou A better health pathway for kids and families.
- Magma Digital marketing suite for higher education.
- Kelvin Ecological digital companion, with strong focus DIY products.
If you’re interested in having a look at deals done by my fellow members of Atomico Angel Programme 2020, and also discover members of 2021 programme, check this article.
When I look at my portfolio
- Parity Objective : 2/6. Two startups have at least one woman in the founding team.
- Diversity objective: 2/6. Two startups have at least one non-white founder.
- Location objective: 2/6. Two startups are not from Paris.
If I had expected diversity and parity to be at 50%, I have realized how hard it is to achieve such objectives when dealflow (all the deals that I managed to look at) is still in majority Paris-based startups founded by all-male teams.
Regarding the source of these deals
- One startup is a startup I had already a crush on, and I knew the founder from before.
- One startup contacted me directly on Linkedin “out of nowhere” but with a very personalized message referring to my investment thesis.
- Another founder came back to me end of 2020 after we had met at an event (ChangeNow Summit) beginning of the year.
- For the remaining 3, they all came through referrals, either with other angels or with common network.
Regarding the startups that I’ve decided not to invest, I’d say the ratio is a little bit different. Introductions I received were more in line with my focus, while direct outreach from founders was often not of interest to me.
There are two startups that I wanted to invest in but the deal did not happen.
- For one startup, it’s because I contacted them without knowing if they were raising money. They were not in 2020, and unfortunately Atomico Angel Programme Rules make it mandatory for the deal to happen during the year timeframe.
- There’s another startup that I really like that I couldn’t invest into. I had agreed back in April 2020, at a time where the idea for them was to make a pre-seed round. But at the end of 2020, their plan changed and they decided to raise a seed round (2M€) and I had to drop because less interesting conditions for a small BA.
All of my deals were pre-seed rounds, usually a few hundred thousand euros and half of them were done through BSA Air (SAFE). I invested around 15k€ per deal, which is now considered as a “medium size” ticket for a Business Angel.
Before this experience, I had already been advisor to a few startups, but understanding what it’s like to be a business angel was full of learnings, especially, two main challenges:
- Having a deal flow. This is not a straightforward as one would think. There are platforms, newsletters, but I’d say it as hard for new Angels to find the right startups to invest in that for young founders to find the right Angels. And 2020, the year of Covid19, was not the best year to leverage events to discover and meet with young startups…
- Building an angel network. Good deals come from your fellow angels, and value you can bring to your startups is also to connect them with other angels. I found it particularly hard, despite my existing network, to be able to tell who is investing today (yesterday is always easier), and in which areas.
Edit: A good friend and mentor made me realize I did not include any financial element in this portfolio review. To put things in perspective, the deal with Atomico is that if there’s a financial return, then I get a piece of it. As a consequence, of course I selected startups that I believe can become global market leaders, that have high ambitions and where there’s a chance I can get an upside. But that was not my top priority. I wanted to back startups that I believe can have a real impact on our education, health systems and planet.
Being an Angel Investor is not just writing a check, it’s also about helping them with advice or introductions, especially when they’re early stage. While the programme has ended for me, meaning that I’m no longer investing in new startups, I have a (moral) commitment with my 6 startups to do my best to be available whenever they need. Also because this activity is on the side to my main activity (Deputy CEO of health tech startup Kaduceo).
So while 2021 is already well engaged, what is sure is that I would love to do it again in 2022 with another VC Scout programme.