What ISAI, the French entrepreneur's fund, is saying about French entrepreneurs with their latest investments

Feb 21, 2013
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isai logoISAI recently announced an investment in Hospimedia, a health & medical professional’s media company. The 2 million euro investment is the first in their most latest fund – ISAI Expansion – which is meant to help companies that already have significant traction and are perhaps event profitable, but still need a capital injection to grow. This is ISAI’s 9th investment, their 8th having come earlier this year with an investment in Pubeco, and e-Spam (Update: “Web-to-Store“) company, which, like Hospimedia, is based in the North of France near Lille.

Looking at these two most recent investments, I can’t help but wonder what happened to ISAI? Their general manager, Jean-David Chamboredon, has spent the last few months defending entrepreneurs via the Pigeon Movement, but that’s not really an issue here. When I first met Jean-David, my impression was that this entrepreneur’s fund was meant to invest in the risky projects that old finance VCs and business angel groups made of former executives of public companies wouldn’t do.

Obviously, asking them to invest only in the most risky of projects would be absurd, but I feel there’s been a shift in the profile of their investment companies. In the beginning,it was Blablacar, Shopimum, Commerce Guys – these are huge risks, that have gone on to raise future rounds, build great products, and get great traction (I here rumor that Shopmium’s getting ready to annoucne some cool stuff); however, I don’t see Hospimedia or Pubeco as global companies. Pubeco, basically a replacement to the the spam mail you get in your letterbox Update: a “Web-to-Store” company, and Hospimedia will have trouble scaling up its clearly useful media outside of France (as the health industry is very country-specific in regulations, practices, needs, etc.).

Perhaps this is a sign of how hard it is to be a VC in France these days, that even an Entrepreneur’s Fund has to invest in safer investments in order to maintain their business model. Perhaps there just aren’t enough good startups looking for a large seed or series A round (I doubt it). Or perhaps, ISAI is just not investing in risky startups these days.