With 30 startups in its program, has TheFamily cracked the code on European Accelerators?

Jul 9, 2013
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TheFamily_Nicolas_Potter

TheFamily has announced a few figures in its first months since launching earlier this year. The accelerator now counts 30 startups under its roof – that’s up from 10 just 3 months ago – and, more importantly, says they have receive 800 applications to the program. The high application rate may be due to their minimal barrier to entry: the Paris accelerator asks for just 1% of a startup’s equity in exchange for entering their program.

When former LeCamping MD Alice Zagury took her EIR Oussama Ammar and a few team members and founded TheFamily, I was skeptical, but curious. I’ve been working one day a week at the program’s main office, normally used as an event space, such as for the 386 office hours or the 48 dinners they’ve hosted. Nevertheless, I wasn’t quite convinced at first: 1% isn’t a lot from a business perspective, and without a physical program, it was difficult to see how the value-added was going to be offered to startups.

The breakthrough came when I started looking at it from a startup’s point of view, namely as many startups had asked me my impression of the program and whether it was “worth it.” The logic is such:

Imagine your startup is valued at $1 Million today. It isn’t, because otherwise you wouldn’t be going into the program, but imagine it is.

1% of $1 Million is $10K. Now what do you get for $10K?

Well, you get a team who is now aligned with your success. Not because of the 1%, but because that 1% theoretically allows them to invest first in upcoming rounds, to maintain, increase, or decrease their stake in your company.

That team has connections to international and local VCs, entrepreneurs, political Influencers, and almost anyone who matters in France. They travel all over the world to conferences, to learn, to evangelize, and to look for opportunities. Opportunities for you to succeed ,but also for them to succeed. Because your success is their success – they are aligned.

What’s more: since TheFamily is new, they have a ‘hype’-obligation to have something amazing and statistically unlikely happen in the first 18 months. They’ve announced one startup has raised $500K – that’s OK, but given that’s just 3% of their startups, it’s a little less than what would be statistically likely to happen. They need a large fundraising, an explosion of growth in the US, or a Google-level buy-out (at an American valuation) to really show that they can change (or influence) the fate of a startup.

There are, I believe, a few things in the works, but given that TheFamily’s goal is to welcome 100 startups by the end of the year (they are surprisingly on track to do so), now might be a good time to get your seed startup into the program.

  1. The price goes up once the model is proven.
  2. If the price doesn’t go up, the acceptance right will definitely go down.

If you ever want to get a taste for what it’s like being a member of TheFamily, all you need to do is visit their offices and work there for an afternoon. You’ll hear Alice make about 1000 phone calls setting up dinners, office hours, conferences, and welcoming a number of guests. You’ll hear Oussama run in and say things like “We’ve figured it out. We might be able to bring convertible notes to France,” as he did just last week.

If you’re looking for an excuse, the July 16th Office Hours with Parse/Scribd founder Tikhon Bernstam and Xobni founder Adam Smith might be a good enough one. Tickets are 25€ with the discount code ‘iamsorude.’