The French entrepreneur who's put his money behind unicorns like medical AI company Owkin and payroll software Payfit is now backing Resonance, a €150m evergreen early-stage VC fund.
Resonance is the new tech investment vehicle of Otium Capital, the family office of Pierre-Édouard Stérin, founder of Smartbox, a gift box seller. The new fund will sit within Otium and be led by Maxime Le Dantec, previously a principal at Balderton, and Alban Oudin, a principal at VC firm XAnge.
Resonance will write cheques between €100k and €10m in seed and Series A rounds in Europe, with a particular focus on French tech companies. The partners want to spend time advising entrepreneurs on areas like recruitment, long-term strategy and fundraising, so will only do a few deals a year.
Le Dantec and Oudin met at university and started out as entrepreneurs before joining VC firms.
“We always knew we wanted to create something together, and we have complementary sectors of interest,” Le Dantec tells Sifted. “I’m investing mostly in fintech and large enterprise SaaS with a tech component, and Alban is more focusing on consumer SaaS [and] SME.”
Otium Capital and Resonance
This isn't the first time Stérin has offered young entrants to the startup world a helping hand. The CEOs of Doctolib and ManoMano both worked at Otium Capital before setting up their own companies, which are now two of France’s most valuable startups.
“Alban and I really wanted to create a fund, and we took the best of two worlds,” Le Dantec says. “We benefit from being inside Otium but we have our own name and own fund, we have full ownership on things like marketing and investment decisions.”
One of the benefits of being backed by Otium is the ability to create an evergreen fund. That means that the fund has no end date, and there's no pressure to exit portfolio companies by a certain date. With a sole limited partner, decision-making is also streamlined.
Resonance says it may soon recruit people in the UK and Germany to chase deals and help their entrepreneurs with expansion plans.
Too often, fundraising is a bad experience for founders: it’s very opaque with no clear timeline
“At the moment, we really want to focus on getting the best deals,” Le Dantec says.
After partners receive their share of the fund's performance, the remaining profits will be donated to Stérin’s charity, Le Fonds du Bien Commun, which invests in and incubates charitable projects focused on social causes like education and loneliness.
Another of the fund's goals is to improve the fundraising experience for entrepreneurs.
“Too often, fundraising is a bad experience for founders: it’s very opaque with no clear timeline. The process often ends with a partner meeting — a presentation in front of a large audience of partners which does allow for conversation. Partner meetings are where 80% of investment decisions are made and yet they focus too much on form over substance, and have a natural bias for great communicators,” Le Dantec says.
“At Resonance, we make fast decisions — often offering a term sheet in less than two weeks — and we make sure the process is a two-way conversation.”