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Investor Spotlight: Roundtable CEO Evan Testa

Testa: "We want to enable everybody to finance the next big thing in the private markets."

Roundtable co-founders (l to r) Simon Ternoir, Julien Fissette, and.Evan Testa
Roundtable co-founders (l to r) Simon Ternoir, Julien Fissette, and.Evan Testa

What: Roundtable is a social platform that wants to democratize startup investing. The company, a product of a collaboration with Hexa (eFounders) startup studio, launched with a bang earlier this year after raising a €3 million Seed Round via its platform from more than 100 Business Angels.

The startup was co-founded by Evan Testa, Simon Ternoir, and Julien Fissette. Testa and Fissette had met while working at Boston Consulting Group, and Ternoir is a serial entrepreneur.

The company goes beyond crowdfunding by allowing founders to list their startups on the platform. Investors can then boost the startup by sharing their plans to invest to attract other investors. If critical mass is reached, those numerous investors are then bundled into a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which helps keep the startup's cap table clean.

The bet by Roundtable is that the wisdom of those communities will vet and back the best startups, and in the process make the deals accessible to more investors. Business Angels can share their activity to attract even more deal flow. Founders have access to an alternative form of early-stage capital. Investors who might not otherwise be able to source deals or have sufficient funds can enter a deal at a lower amount.

"We had this idea for Roundtable because wealth is moving from public markets to private markets," Testa said. "We want to enable everybody to finance the next big thing in the private markets. It can be in startups. But it can also be investing in funds, venture capital, and private equity funds. And we are leveraging the power of community to do it."

Since the company was formed 2 years ago, the platform has been used for 250 deals at a total value of €150 million.

What's New: The company recently announced a feature called public communities, which are created by Business Angels (many of whom backed Roundtable). People can apply to join these communities which then share potential deals.

To start, there are already more than 80 private investment communities on the platform. To create a community, an investor has to apply to Roundtable and have already participated in a few deals. Once validated by a Roundtable committee, these communities can announce themselves and invite others to join.

Station F director Roxanne Varza (a Roundtable investor) recently announced she had created a community for female investors called "Gold Diggers."

"For maybe the last year I've been seeing more and more founders really care about having women on the cap table, so I started sharing these deals with some women investors in my network," she wrote on LinkedIn. "We created a WhatsApp group that quickly grew to 40 and includes incredible women...We want to bring more women to cap tables and help more women get started in investing."

Other communities include "Unhiders" created by Paul Lê, cofounder of La Belle Vie, which supports diverse impact entrepreneurs; and Mozza Angels, created by Adrien Montcoudiol, CEO of start-up studio Mozza, and Antoine Sakho, Mozza Angels, to expand their investing thesis based around product developers. (See our Mozza profile here).

Roundtable is also promoting this feature to groups of alumni from other companies or universities. The alumni investment groups on Roundtable include The SaaS Club for people who have formerly worked at Hexa (formerly eFounders).

What It Brings To The Table: By hosting the startups seeking to fundraise, Roundtable takes care of all the administrative work involved in creating the SPV. The ability to create such financial instruments leverages the company's Luxemburg financial license. Roundtable makes its money by charging fees for that administrative work, so it's not dependent on the success or valuation of startups that raise on the platform.

Eating Its Own Dogfood: Roundtable used its platform to raise its Seed Round by consolidating investments from 100 Business Angels from across Europe. In addition to backing Roundtable, those investors have now effectively become ambassadors for the startup, a dynamic that the investment communities seek to further leverage.

"That was a strong decision on our part," Testa said. "But we thought that in the current ecosystem, it was a good play in terms of go-to-market and marketing and positioning."

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