Hi Inov-Dentressangle is a Franco-German VC firm co-founded in 2013 by Pierre-Henri Dentressangle and Valérie Gombart. The firm recently announced the first €75 million closing toward its planned 3rd fund of €150 million. Hi Inov (as in, Hello to Innovation) has more than €320 million in assets under management and has backed 38 startups in 10 years.
This third fund will write early-stage checks between €2 million and €6 million, and up to €15 million for Series A and B rounds. Hi Inov targets 6 sectors: SaaS applications, PaaS-no-code-low-code, cloud infrastructure and Devops, data and AI, collaborative tools and future-of-work services, and climate tech. The Hi Inov portfolio includes Deepki, Platform.sh, and 360 Learning.
The firm has co-headquarters in Paris and Munich. That Munich office is expanding Hi Inov's presence in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium. And Hi Inov is in the process of adding more than 12 new team members this year.
Gombart's journey to co-founding Hi Inov was full of detours. She lived in Germany as a teenager, studied business administration and commercial law at the University of Washington in Seattle, and then business administration at Audencia (France). She worked in the financial and VC sectors for two decades, including a stint at Seventure Partners where she helped open the German office.
In helping to start Hi Inov, Gombart took a very distinct approach. The fund wanted to link corporates and startups. Many of the LPs (which the partners also refer to as "customers") are large corporations, and Hi Inov focuses on B2B startups that can solve problems for these LPs. The company intentionally invests in a limited number of portfolio companies so it can work closely with each startup.
"The whole idea from the very beginning was to build a bridge between corporates and startups," Gombart said. "Back in 2013, most of the corporates had to digitalize to get more productivity but had no real idea of how to do it, where to find the technology, how to pick the right one, and so on. We went to these corporates and said, 'Come with Hi Inov, and we'll pick the right ones for you.'"
Gombart sat down with us to explain the firm's history, its investment strategy, and its vision for the road ahead.