What I look for in a start-up
I look at the management – we invest in people first so this is the first thing I look at. The reason for this? We know that things will never roll out as planned. The management is the main asset because they know how to adapt to unpredictability. Adaptability and agility is absolutely key in our current environment – more so today than it’s ever been because of all the changes, the disruption, the volatility and uncertainty in our modern world.
Then, I look at the idea – how exceptional is the technology or service going to be compared to what’s already there in the market? The entrepreneur’s ambition is key: they have to think very big – that way they’re more likely to reach a target. We always think too small – but marginal changes have no real impact, you just do what you were doing before, only slightly better. The main challenge is to think completely out of the box, to go against how we’ve been trained to think in terms of marginal adaptations and instead strive for vast structural change, this is what we really need.
Why this is the perfect time for entrepreneurship
The greatest ideas are crazy up and until they become the best idea. Nobody trusts that this idea is going to be successful until suddenly it becomes the disruption. Now in 2018, we have 50% of the next generation saying that they want to be entrepreneurs. I love that, and in terms of timing it means that what we’re doing at OneRagtime comes at exactly the right time. We’re here to make sure that this new wave of entrepreneurs has more of a chance, more support to live their dreams and be successful.
My tips for entrepreneurs
1. Take risks and be bold.
2. Put the best team together and have some seniority around you – you need people who’ve been through changes, who have experienced disruption, who have top management skills.
3. Embrace diversity – I believe very strongly in all forms of diversity. I think an organisation is much stronger business-wise in terms of efficiency and performance when you’re diverse. Diversity brings together different states of mind and different ways of analysing the same situation or problem. A diverse team is also better positioned to bring new ambitions and target new markets.
4. Be organised in a lean manner – the problem with our society is that the old organisations which have been around for so many years have difficulty changing the way that they’re structured. They’re too slow, it takes time before decisions can be taken. So, my advice for any business is to remain as lean as possible for as long as possible. Try to remain authentic and very connected to your roots, with autonomy in each business unit because that keeps you quick, agile and grounded. As a result, you’ll stay connected to your market, aware and ultimately, fast.
My advice for investors
It’s extremely difficult to invest, so if you’re risk averse, you’re very likely to always see the glass half empty. It’s especially difficult to invest very early stage, as you don’t have any proof of success yet, so you have to use your judgement.
Because of this I believe you have to have a portfolio approach, because you want to diversify your risk. That’s fundamental to the way we structured OneRagtime, so we can offer these opportunities to our investors to have a very rich deal flow across the board. It’s an important element of any good investment strategy, diversify your risk and consider your portfolio management.
Another piece of advice I would give is to follow the development of a company that you liked at some point but that you didn’t invest in. Of course, there’s always the investments that you miss, but this is a huge part of the game. You learn from this, whether you were too slow, or you were questioning, or simply because your judgement was wrong at the end. You have to accept that as part of building your strategy and building your track record that there will be things that you couldn’t do, entrepreneurs that you couldn’t support or those who chose someone else. This is all part of building your own strengths. You’re as much identified by what you do as by what you don’t do, in the end.
I chose OneRagtime because I thought the business model was original, it’s a mix of identifying, investing and advising. Not only are we trying to identify the best start-ups, those with the perfect positioning in terms of new technologies and disruption, but at the same time we’re there to help them – we’re finding investors for them and we’re advising them.
I like the idea and the international positioning. At OneRagtime we apply the same rules to ourselves as we do to our start-ups – start immediately on at least both continents, Europe and North America. 10 or 15 years ago, most start-ups would start first in one country, mature a little, then progress to the next market, growing sequentially. Today, there is no time for that. You have to do everything in parallel; it’s a challenge but it’s the only way to achieve success.
What’s more, I like how OneRagtime is not just about investment but about the entire community. You have the OneRagteam really helping the start-ups we invest in to help achieve their goals and you have the investors who are super committed and really feel a part of the adventure. These investors want to spend time, they want to be able to help, to open up their own ecosystem of contacts, to give their advice – to me it’s the perfect recipe for success. There is a true ethos of collaboration, there’s an ambition to succeed, to help, to find the right investors. We’re building something extremely positive with talent, expertise, ambition, within an international team that spans different generations but that shares one common ground: excitement. We’re curious and we want to be involved – so we have a connection at all levels between investors, start-ups and corporates. The benefits of this community really are amazing.
Want to join Virginie and our other brilliant investors? Head to our Platform to apply to join our Investor community and invest in our one-of-a-kind start-ups.
Or do you have an exceptional start-up we should know about? Our Platform is also the place to pitch us and apply for funding, contacts, operational resources and so much more.