Daniel Michel joined EIT ICT Labs on April 1, 2015 as Head of Access to Finance. He is based in Paris, France and works with a team of experts spread across 8 countries in Europe (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Finland). He talks to us about his role and ambition at EIT ICT Labs.
What is your role as Head of Access to Finance at EIT ICT Labs?
Our EIT ICT Labs objective is to build leading pan-European digital companies, with the best technologies, the sharpest business models and the most agile entrepreneurs. The role of Access to Finance in particular, within EIT ICT Labs Business Development Accelerator (BDA), is to help our coached start-ups raise the funds required for their development according to their maturity and needs.
What are your main challenges?
We have 3 main challenges: selection, preparation and financing. We cannot help all our start-ups. We operate a very sharp selection process to keep the very best companies. After selection, we coach their management teams to be able to present in a concise and accurate manner the essence of their business model. We know well our ecosystem of European investors and what they are looking for. Thus it is important to prepare the teams to make a good impact from the very first minute they meet potential investors. They will never have a second chance to make a good impression. Finally, with our selected and prepared start-ups, we go on road show, meeting the most suitable investors likely to have an interest for their technology and activity.
What are your strengths to achieve your mission?
The strength of Access to Finance relies on a team of experts having a strong track record in advising CEOs of high-growth companies during their financing rounds. They all have not only a solid experience with different cutting-edge technologies, but also financial expertise. As for my own background, my engineering experience at EADS on distributed software architectures, together with my financial experience working at HSBC Investment Bank or UBS, bring me the ability to understand technology with the business sense of an investment banker. I can stand on both sides of the fence.
"Having a disruptive technology is obviously not enough"
What would you say to an entrepreneur before he comes and sees you?
Most financial investors usually ask that a successful start-up is built on a solid management team, a robust product/service, and an appealing market. In addition to that, I always ask a CEO to demonstrate to me how he/she is going to make money. Having a disruptive technology is obviously not enough, it must at some point translate into a cash flow statement.