Money’s tight for startups in France – or so Journal Du Net claims it will be – accelerators don’t give out the 100K that they do in the US, France angel groups like Keiretsu France charge startups 1000s of euros to pitch angels who won’t and don’t intend to invest in tech startups, and French VC firms are struggling to get more money from their investors. In these tough times, many startups are high-tailing it for the US, like LeCamping’s Onefeat & DocTrackr, or Psykopaint.
That’s why I was pretty excited earlier this month when I was pretty excited when I got an email and a tweet from #1Seed‘s Raj Ramanandi, a London-based investor who looks for seed stage startups, in London, Paris, and all over Europe, in which to invest. When he told me about the 10 deals per year that #1Seed makes, I told him to tell me more about the fund’s vision so I could put him in touch with my favorite startups.
@RudeBaguette would love to. Email / call / meet? In advanced discussions with 2 great Parisian startups !
— #1seed (@number1seed) June 8, 2012
Not a Fund, Just a Guy with a heavy Wallet
Raj told me that #1Seed isn’t a fund, it’s just two guys – Raj and his partner Lee Pickrell – investing in companies that they like where they think they can add value. #1Seed is very hands on – though they may not carry the biggest dollar sign in your startup’s investment round, they will champion your round and help you raise the remaining amount. Additionally, their investment doesn’t just carry cash in the bank – they are focused on hands-on, “American style” angel investing. Their network is your network, their time is your time. After all, your success is their success.
In Paris, they’ve been working with local Angel Investor Francesco Maio to get an idea of what startups are coming up, in addition to making EuroStar trips to Paris. They’ve also been working with John Burke, who I met earlier this month when he was a member of the Jury at Startup Weekend Paris. John will be interviewed 50 Paris startups to get an idea of their experience with raising a seed round, in order to identify how #1Seed can best help.
Already making some solid Paris investments
#1Seed already has some good investments under its belt, and they are currently closing a round with Onefeat, now in San Francisco’s I/O Incubator. Additionally,they are in discussion with another undisclosed startup, but it’s clear from their list of interests that they are picking well and picking smart.
I probed Raj a bit about his intentions to set up a ground base in Paris. He said that, for now, he feels he can create intimate relationships in Paris while still remaining in Paris, but “if [he needs] an excuse to buy a place in Paris, [he's] there!” I asked Raj about his impressions of the Paris startup scene so far:
“[Paris has] a very different startup culture. It seems to be a small enough scene where it is easy to network, where the true quality rises to the top very quickly. It would be good to see that quality stay in Paris for its early life and help improve the local scene. We saw no shortage of quality engineers, quality ideas, now is the time for some of these guys to breakthrough with commercial success – we hope we can be involved in a couple of these in the next few years.”
Raj is an avid reader of The Rude Baguette – he’s even subscribed to our Weekly Rude Baguette Digest – so if you’ve got an awesome pre-seed startup, and you like this way #1Seed does things, drop a comment below!