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Cake Break with Simone Riva

Simone is Senior Principal at Partech, focusing on early-stage investments. He joined in 2021. 

1. Simone, you have invested in start-ups all over Europe with a particular focus on Germany and France. What differences do you see between these two ecosystems?  

The German tech ecosystem has been very much shaped by Rocket Internet who have created huge numbers of top-quality founders and professionals. 

Some of the key distinctive points of the German ecosystem are: 

Very collaborative ecosystem: several founders of German unicorns have started to invest in the next start-up generation sharing opportunities or investing alongside local VC funds. 

Execution ability: over the past years I have met and invested in founders and teams that were pure execution machines overperforming the best growth trajectory expectations. 

Low adoption of innovative tech solutions both among large corporates and startups (German startups usually try to develop all tools internally) 

Historically the German ecosystem has been more skewed toward B2C platforms than B2B SaaS platforms (partly due to the Rocket Internet heritage and partly due to slower adoption from large corporates). 

Founders are on average very open to international investors. 

Very complex stock option mechanism. 

Despite the well-known German efficiency, notarization processes of funding rounds can take months. 

France has a tech ecosystem that became mature more recently and where the French Government played a key role through BPI France and the investments of several French multinational companies. 

A few important points are: 

A lot of successful software companies serving both SMB and large corporates in some with a global footprint. 

Large Corporates are very much interested in innovation and the startup ecosystem, making it relatively easier to sign contracts and partnerships with them. 

A lower level of collaboration between local VCs and business angels from an investment perspective. 

Several collaborative initiatives among entrepreneurs to share best practices. 

A good level of French in some cases helps to convince entrepreneurs to have you as an investor. 😊 

Ecosystem progressively becoming more and more international. 

  

2. What do you look for in founders?  

Hunger and ambition. 

Bold strategic vision. 

Transparency and fairness. 

Ability to listen to good advice. 

Deep knowledge of reference market structure, dynamics, and positioning vs. Competitors. 

Strong execution mindset. 

Data driven decision making. 

  

3. What’s the best life hack you’ve learned from a founder?   

Not all growth stories follow a linear or even better exponential trajectory…sometimes during hard times a company can become stronger and better positioned for success in the long term. 

  

4. What’s your favorite snack to grab from Partech kitchen?  

Well, that’s an easy one: obviously the Koro dried fruit. 😊 


Thank you Simone!
 

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