This week three of France’s most prominent Super Angels – Xavier Niel, Marc Simoncini & Jacques-Antoine Granjon – released the list of the 101 projects which would each receive €25,000 “convertible notes,” an amount which will total more than €2.5 Million in investment. As part of the #101Projects contest that the three entrepreneurs set up earlier this year, Niel, Simoncini & Granjon sat on stage for an entire afternoon listening to the 1 minute pitches from over 300 finalists.
In France, convertible notes are not ‘legal’ – that is, the banking regulation restricts non-banks from lending money (without having sufficient capital to compensate the risk), and French laws view the United States’ structure of convertible notes as a form of loan, instead of a form of investment, as it is commonly used. In order to circumvent the law, each startup will receive a €25,000 loan with a 1% interest (the legal minimum), which they will not be required to pay back for 2 years (except for the 250€ interest, again a legal requirement).
For startups who raise money, the #101Projects team will define their equity stake with a 25% less valuation than the round itself (which I’ve heard is pretty close to the Silicon Valley standard of 20%), which means that if startups go on to raise at a €1 Million valuation, #101Projects 25,000€ is at a valuation of 750K€, or a 3.33% stake in the company, instead of a 2.5% stake that 25,000€ would normally afford them at the given valuation.
In addition, for startups who don’t raise money, the official email to winners says that the loan will be requested to be reimbursed “sans malus” suggesting that the investors will not follow up on founders who don’t pay back the loan.
The 101 Projects vary quite a bit, between non-profit Voxe.org, and Pricematch (who raised €1 Million from Partech last month), but the fact remains that this initiative is quite unique, and a good way to encourage investment in very early ideas & people. The project, which was born out of a tweet by Marc Simoncini saying he would invest 25K€ in 25 companies (with founders younger than 25) in 25 days. The snowball effect kicked in, and Granjon and Niel joined in and, as they said in one interview, multiplied 25 by 3 and got 101.
For the full list of the 101 startups, Maddyness has published a nice list of links to their site here