Welcome to Seed Scout which takes you inside France’s early-stage startup scene. As a reminder, this newsletter is free. Upgrade to a paid membership to get full access to all the articles.
In this week's edition:
- Seed Of The Week: Augment raised a €6 million Seed Round to develop its online business education platform. Co-founder Ariel Renous takes us inside the company that wants to reinvent business education and make it more accessible.
- Investor Spotlight: Upscalers is an early-stage angel investment club that takes a community-led approach to backing startups by recruiting experienced operators to be angel investors. Co-founder and CEO Yoann Benhacoun breaks down Upscalers' model and motivations.
- Sector Deep Dive: Go inside France's EV charging sector, one of the hottest categories in climate tech.
- Hot Seed Deals: Phospho, Minitrucks Robotics, Prolong, Crealo, and more!
Chris O'Brien & Helen O'Reilly-Durand
The French Tech Journal
Seed Of The Week: Augment
Childhood friends Roy Wellner and Ariel Renous attended a prestigious business school together and found the experience, well, lacking. They learned a lot and yet did not necessarily feel it prepared them for the modern, digital business world.
So they joined forces to fix that by co-founding Augment, an online business program that wants to expand the market for business education by creating courses taught by prominent entrepreneurs and successful business leaders.
"We're building a business education that's much more affordable and accessible to basically everyone who cannot quit their job, invest that much money, spend two years moving to a different city," Renous said
Upscalers CEO Yoann Benhacoun
Upscalers is an emerging early-stage investment club of business angels that has built a community of startup operators and founders to identify deals and vet investment opportunities. After two years of refining the concept, Upscalers recently announced it closed a pre-seed round for an undisclosed amount to expand its community-building and recruiting activities.
"It's been an intense two years," said Upscalers CEO and co-founder Yoann Benhacoun. "Let's see what 2024 will bring us. That's gonna be the year of growth and scale for us hopefully now that we have the product that's going to help us to scale."
Sector Deep Dive: France's Surging EV Charging Economy
France's startup economy got a jolt this month when EV startup Electra announced it had raised €304 million to deploy its charging stations across Europe. The impressive check size despite a lukewarm funding climate is the latest sign of how investors and the French government are placing big bets on this industry as part of the larger fight against climate change.
According to Dealroom, France's EV startups have raised a total of €1.4bn, with €1.2bn of that since 2021. As investors continue to ramp up their support for climate startups, the EV sector has emerged as one of the hotter categories.
Let's take a closer look at why EV charging in France is booming.
Hot Seed Deals 🔥
What: Prolong, an after-sales "care and repair" B2B SaaS platform for maintenance and repair services in the fashion industry.
Why: To provide its fashion label clients with a white-label solution to coordinate the maintenance and repair services of their products.
Investors: Imagination Machine (startup studio), AFI Ventures (Ventech's impact branch) & several impact-focused Business Angels.
What's Next: The new money will enable the startup to strengthen its teams, continue platform development, and accelerate sales, both in terms of geography by targeting international brands and in terms of segments by expanding into jewelry and watchmaking.
What: Phospho, a platform that monitors interactions between Large Language Model (LLM) applications and their users.
Why: To provide LLM App developers and product teams with consolidated metrics and product analytics allowing them to detect problems and improve the conversational experience.
Investors: Elaia, Y Combinator & several business angels; Julien Chaumond (Hugging Face CTO), Abou Laraki (Monk AI CEO), Mehdi Ghissassi (Google Deepmind Director of product) & Nicolas Schul (Mistral AI product developer).
What's Next: The first funding round will go towards expanding Phospho’s team and product development to establish Phospho as a leader in the field of product analytics for LLM technologies.
What: Minitrucks Robotics, a manufacturer of radio-controlled vehicles for transporting and handling heavy loads.
Why: to provide industry workers with ultra-compact trucks to transport heavy loads in tight spaces
What's Next: The new cash will be used to fuel the company's growth and finance a new line of products.
What: Crealo, a copyright management SaaS platform.
Why: To automate the management of copyright rights (publishing, music, arts etc.) thereby providing more reliable royalty calculations and smoother royalty payments.
Investors: Kima Ventures, Evolem, 212 Founders, Super Capital, and several Business Angels.
What's Next: The startup will use the funds plans to enhance the quality of its product, foster new partnerships, and expand its workforce.
What: Omena, a support app for menopausal women.
Why: To provide support for menopausal women and advice and information on symptoms and risks
Investors: Fair Equity, Club Mozza Angels
What's Next: The femtech will use the funding to expand marketing efforts increasing awareness of menopause in France through campaigns and partnerships with high-profile personalities, and continuing engagement with workplaces before attempting European expansion.
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