The French Tech ecosystem is experiencing the biggest funding week in its history. And it’s still only Friday.
Entrepreneurs and investors across the country were already stunned after experiencing an unprecedented parade of nine-figure fundraising in the first half of 2021. But in the past four days, France has sort of shifted into high gear. with four fundraising rounds making headlines.
On Tuesday, Sorare set a new French record by announcing a funding round of 580 million euros for his blockchain-based fantasy football platform. Hours later, the Mirakl market platform leaked details of a € 473 million round. The next day, the FoodTech Sunday platform trumpeted a € 100 million round. And Thursday, Vestiarie Collective unveiled a funding round of 178 million euros for its circular economy fashion marketplace.
“In 48 hours, we [raised] as much as during the whole of 2015. “
For a country that begged international investors to take it seriously just a few years ago, the latest race would seem to validate how far the French startup scene has come. The mega-rounds of funding are a sign that entrepreneurs are launching businesses from France that investors believe may be the kind of global champions needed to justify such fleeting valuations.
“In 48 hours, we [raised] as much as in the whole of 2015 ”, declared the French Minister of Digital, Cédric O.“ What happened in the United States and in China is happening in Europe. We are entering this innovation economy, which creates economic prosperity, job creation and the ability to support major social and economic challenges.
The minister made his remarks Wednesday at the France Digitale Day conference, a high-level gathering that attracts a who’s who from the French Tech scene to an event organized by his namesake industry association. The timing of the press releases seemed destined to coincide with the event where the news put everyone in a festive mood.
Globally, investment in startups has skyrocketed this year on the heels of accelerating corporate digitization coupled with the aggressive entry of huge private equity and growth funds into the capital game. -risk.
CB Insights reported that startups around the world raised $ 156 billion in the second quarter of 2021, up 157% from the second quarter of 2020. In France, startups have attracted € 5.14 billion over the years. first six months of 2021, almost as much as the 5.39 billion euros raised over the whole of 2020, according to a report released this summer by consulting firm EY. Major tours this year in France include Contentsquare (€ 408 million), Ledger (€ 312 million), BackMarket (€ 276 million) and Alan (€ 185 million).
Calendar issues aside, this week’s funding has succeeded in highlighting the diversity of an ecosystem that has proven itself in different technological sectors, from Fintech to Saas, including AI and Marketplaces. At the same time, there are telling parallels between each of the major financings. rounds this week.
For example, all four companies have made headlines over the past year:
- Cloakroom became a unicorn in March after a round of 178 million euros.
- Sunday raised eyebrows in April with a funding round of 20 million euros just weeks after the creation of the company.
- Sorare gained international attention during the initial craze surrounding non-fungible chips when she closed a 40m Serie A round in February.
- Mirakl consolidated its ascent in September 2020 with a funding round of € 255 million.
The short gap between funding cycles suggests a sort of land grabbing mentality on the part of founders and investors: Digital transformation creates huge opportunities for companies that can first enter and dominate a market.
This seems to be the case for Sunday, founded by Victor Lugger, Tigrane Seydoux and Christine de Wendel. Lugger and Tigrane founded the Italian restaurant chain Big Mamma. As many restaurants did during the pandemic, Big Mamma placed QR codes on tables that customers could use to get the menu on their smartphones.
But the company went further by connecting QR codes to an ordering and payment system. The founders created this platform to create Sunday and lifted the Seed cycle in a matter of weeks. In a video posted on Twitter this week, Lugger said on Sunday that it had listed 1,500 restaurants in the 5 months since its launch and has been used by 1.1 million customers.
Sunday already has 170 employees with customers in France, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom. The new money will be used to continue the rapid pace of hiring to fuel expansion into even more territories. “I think the team is going to grow massively,” said Lugger. “It feels like we’re at the foot of a huge mountain but we have the best team, the best spirit, and we’re so excited.”
Jean de La Rochebrochard is co-founder of the New Wave Seed fund, supported by Xavier Niel, which joined the Sunday’s Seed round in April. He said this week’s grand tour made sense as the company needs to move fast and become big to capitalize on its initial momentum.
“Sunday has to build a superior product and that requires investing heavily in it,” said de La Rochebrochard. “They rock the distribution, so the product has to be amazing as well.”
In the midst of this week’s spinning top, there is also recognition that there is more pressure on these companies to keep their promises even as they face new challenges. Foremost among them is attracting the best international talent, which means competing with the biggest names in tech and a host of other money-flooded startups.
Adrien Nussenbaum, co-CEO and co-founder of Mirakl, said the talent hunt was one of the many factors that helped lift such a massive round. The large number gives Mirakl visibility to potential employees while allowing him to pocket more money than he could have made from an IPO at this point, he said.
The company will use the money to hire hundreds of developing employees as well as for sales and marketing of its platform that helps other companies launch third-party markets. Demand has been insatiable, Nussenbaum said, and the big check will allow Mirakl to continue to innovate and take risks.
He also acknowledged that the current Private Equity boom offered Mirakl the opportunity to seize this moment. Just a few years ago, a country like France might not have had companies mature enough to attract the attention of major global fund managers like those who led Mirakl’s last 2 rounds: Permira and Silver Lake.
“If we were in a bear market, we probably wouldn’t have made such an increase,” Nussenbaum said. “This funding gives us the opportunity to have full control over our destiny.
Chris O’Brien is a Sifted correspondent based in France. He tweets from @obrien.