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French VC Alven raises €350m for latest fund

The Qonto, BeReal and Ankorstore backer now plans to invest in more startups outside of France

By Selin Bucak

The Alven team

Paris-based VC firm Alven has raised €350m for its latest fund to back pre-seed to Series A startups all across Europe. It’s the largest early-stage fund raised in France to date. 

This, its sixth fund, exceeded its initial target of €300m and is 40% larger than its predecessor. It will invest between a few hundred thousand to €15m into European businesses or European founders in the US, and reserve around 60-70% of the fund for follow-ons.

All existing limited partners have reinvested in the fund, which has also attracted several new investors from European, North American and other global institutions. 

“We pride ourselves in building long-term relationships with entrepreneurs, and this also applies to investors in Alven,” Guillaume Aubin and Charles Letourneur, cofounders of Alven, say.

Alven, founded in 2000, has already made a dozen investments from the new fund, including in cyber insurance company Stoik, traffic data provider Mytraffic and digital assets data software Kaiko. 

Investing more across Europe

The fundraise coincides with the opening of a new London office and plans to hire across investment and portfolio support teams. The firm is looking to increase diversity within its team as well and says it will announce a number of female hires in the coming months.

Alven is mainly known for its investments in French unicorns Qonto, Dataiku, Algolia and Ankorstore. Other investments include social media sensations BeReal and Yubo, and beauty business Typology

But with the new fund, partner Thomas Cuvelier says the team expects to do more deals across Europe. Approximately 10% to 15% of the fund has been deployed so far, with recent investments in France, UK, Finland, Sweden, Poland, the US and Switzerland. 

The fund will continue to invest across fintech, marketplaces, enterprise software, social and entertainment. The team will also focus on new sectors including crypto and climate tech. 

Alven aims to support startups with hiring as well, through its internal people operations team. In an effort to improve diversity at portfolio companies, Alven also said it set up a number of initiatives to nurture a pool of female executives.

It’s also recently launched a programme to identify and train people in Web3 called Operation3. Launched in partnership with global Web3 community Jericho, the programme helps those working in Web2 learn about Web3 through a combination of mentoring and workshops. It then matches them with tech companies to find their next position.

€2bn assets under management

Since it was founded, Alven has invested in nearly 160 teams and has realised more than 70 exits. Most recently, it sold security platform Sqreen to cloud monitoring platform Datadog and fast delivery startup Frichti to its German competitor Gorillas. Following the fund closing, the firm’s assets under management have reached €2bn. 

Cuvelier adds that the team is focused on companies with sustainable business models and will be keeping an eye on profitability even more than before, in the current market environment. 

“Last year was very unusual and maybe some investments were a bit reckless and valuations were too high”

“The market is actually going back to normal. Last year was very unusual and maybe some investments were a bit reckless and valuations were too high. It’s good to see a bit more normality coming to the market,” he says.

“As early stage investors we are less affected by what’s happening in public markets, but we think it’s a great opportunity because there will be a cleaning effect and we’re going to see more sustainable business models.”

Appetite for early-stage funding

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on boosting scaleup funding in France and across Europe, which has resulted in funding being driven mostly by later-stage rounds, according to Eurazeo’s The State of the French Tech Ecosystem report

The report found that both the average amount raised at seed stage and the number of rounds stayed flat in 2021. In addition, the top 15 largest growth rounds accounted for 41% of the amount raised by French startups over the year.  

Alven isn’t the only fund ready to plug the gap. Earlier this year, more than 250 of founders across France partnered up to launch Galion.exe, a seed fund targeting €80m to plug the gap in early-stage funding for French businesses.  

Selin Bucak is a freelance finance writer based in Paris. She tweets from @SelinBucak2

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