Index Ventures Backs Paris-Based Startup Accelerator TheFamily

TheFamily said Monday that it has received an investment from Swiss-based venture capital firm Index Ventures. No financial terms were disclosed. TheFamily is a French startup accelerator.

PRESS RELEASE

TheFamily received an undisclosed investment from Index Ventures in order to further opportunities for entrepreneurs of all kinds in the country.
Our current goal is to develop the best program ever for startups. With this new partnership, it’s all about being surrounded by passionate and experienced people to help us achieve our mission: to design a strong educational system and develop more unfair advantages for startups that do not exist in France. We want to reach out to the dark matter of our ecosystem, to all the entrepreneurs who don’t yet know that they can do this! This is the biggest opportunity in any emerging ecosystem: diversity that includes women, minorities and people with skills outside of the business world.
TheFamily has already gathered more than 800 applications and taken on 30 startups, several of which have already received investments or exit offers.
TheFamily’s wider approach is one that will help it to not only develop effective startups but also instigate change within the French ecosystem. We have a vision, we work with all the other incubators and the local VCs, and schools. We try to align the interests of all the actors of the ecosystem rather than working alone.
Indeed the French entrepreneurial landscape is not for the faint-hearted. TheFamily focuses on the many problems that startups face and hope to find ways to guide them through to success. Our feeling at TheFamily is that we – French, are revolutionaries. Right now we might be frustrated but the time will come for change and that is what we are fighting for. The ecosystem is growing. We see more and more entrepreneurs traveling the world and coming back. Yes it’s hard but it’s changing. We are still here because the best is yet to come. France is a hard place – if you can make it in France, you can make it anywhere.
We need to reach out to young people who have been schooled in disciplines other than business. Most entrepreneurs in France are coming out of management schools. This is good but we wish we would have more diversity. In France we are recognized for our art schools, design schools, engineering schools and we should be able to put into the minds of these people the fact that they can become entrepreneurs and show them the way to do it. We want to prove that it is accessible.
It’s a big job to effect change throughout a sector, but we’re keen to influence not just startups but also government officials in order to change the environment and encourage growth. In many cases, officials also require education as to what a startup is and how it can be supported properly. A startup is not a small company, it’s an organization in search of a scalable business model. In France everything is designed by politics. We, at TheFamily, just don’t count on governmental policies to change the ecosystem — we are privatizing it! We hope to be an inspiration for the next generation of policies and we are always ready to keep the dialogue open with lawmakers.
TheFamily aims to work with 100 startups per year and it is not only working on providing education, support systems and tools for each organization, but it is also creating a very French way of offering focus. We’ve recently revealed plans to offer accommodation in a castle in Normandy. At the castle you can focus on your startup in the most beautiful countryside. It’s a real unfair advantage. There is an atmosphere there that France is known for – good food, better quality of life and being able to enjoy your work in a spectacular environment.
This unusual approach raises high hopes to change a system much wider than its own back yard. It is the deep seated similarities between TheFamily and Index Ventures that makes the right match for investment. To invest in an accelerator rather than just a portfolio company, this is not something many VCs will do. So one of the few firms to be able to do this well is Index. They make fast investment decisions and go a long way to understand very early stage business. This attitude to investment is bold and radical and it makes sense for us as there is an alignment of values. It does not mean there will be exclusivity over the startups in our accelerator, but it does mean that we will be stronger.
Commenting on the investment, Martin Mignot of Index Ventures said, “Alice, Oussama and Nicolas, form both one of the most unlikely and most complementary team we have ever come across. The result of putting three extraordinarily different personalities to work on a project as wide-ranging as transforming the startup ecosystem in France, is that you get incredibly bold and innovative ideas that have never been tried elsewhere. They run TheFamily as a true early stage startup, constantly coming up with new products and iterating rapidly to serve their customers (the entrepreneurs in their portfolio) the best they can, and we believe that they have the right mix of sheer creativity and disciplined execution to have a massive impact on entrepreneurship in France.”

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