For many startups, listing on the public market might seem a million miles away — but it’s not quite as far-fetched an aspiration as that.
For the last six years, European tech firms have achieved more public market listings (or IPOs) than US tech firms, according to Atomico’s State of European Tech Report 2019. A standout year was 2018, where Europe saw 87 companies IPO compared to 32 State-side, with their share prices increasing by an average of 222%.
Camille Leca, chief operating officer listing from the pan-European stock exchange Euronext, says that even businesses with quite modest valuations can successfully list: “We have companies that go onto the market that are quite small, worth around €30-50m.”
Publicly-listed companies and their shareholders benefit from a number of opportunities, such as further funding for external growth, internationalisation, increased visibility and more.
The TechShare programme
Euronext has recently opened applications for its annual pre-IPO programme for tech companies, TechShare.
The free programme, which began in 2015, helps aspiring tech entrepreneurs familiarise themselves with capital markets. Previous participants have included the multi-service mobile platform CM.com and drug development company Theranexus. Each year 120 tech companies from eight European countries join the programme and a community of 400+ international alumni.
So what were the key learnings and outcomes for previous TechShare participants?
We spoke to ID Finance, a Spanish company that offers multiple digital finance and online lending products, and Miracor Medical, a Belgian startup that develops medical devices to help people with heart problems, to dig into their experiences on the programme and give insight for future participants.
You don’t have to be a big dog
Smaller companies often overlook a public listing because of the assumption that businesses need to be a global powerhouse before even considering it. Well that’s not necessarily true.
Bertrand Grimmonpre, chief financial officer at Miracor Medical, changed his perspective on going public through connecting with corporations like banks, lawyers and financial experts during the programme: “Even though an IPO’s impact on an organisation is important, you do not need to be a ‘big’ corporation to do it… listening to some participants and orators convinced me we could also do it.” Companies do, however, need to have raised at least €5m to get listed.
“Even though an IPO’s impact on an organisation is important, you do not need to be a ‘big’ corporation to do it…”
You can learn everything you need to know
The programme connects companies with alumni across nine different countries. These connections are extremely useful, according to Boris Batin, chief executive officer at ID Finance: “[It was great] sharing knowledge with tech companies from different sectors bringing different perspectives and positioning across their corresponding industries.”
Grimmonpre adds that it was useful taking in expert advice from companies who had listed: “Listening to experienced people who made the decision to go public and who have shared their vision was, for me, the best part of the programme.”
“At the end of the programme you’re very focused on [things like] investor perception, equity research and how financial markets are working.”
Leca explains that launching the programme became a no-brainer for Euronext when a lot of feedback surfaced from entrepreneurs who found the IPO journey rough. Many founders have a lack of knowledge of financial markets — a resource that the TechShare programme is bursting with.
“We start from the basics of why you want to do an IPO, and the different steps and guides working around it. At the end of the programme you’re very focused on [things like] investor perception, equity research and how financial markets are working,” she says.
You can go it alone
Grimmonpre says that Miracor Medical has built up the confidence to scale independently, contrary to the route taken by many medtech companies which partner with (or are acquired by) huge companies in order to grow.
“Things are changing. People in the organisation believe that standalone growth represents a valid scenario that would bring a lot of added value to stakeholders,” he says.
While both companies have not listed yet, the programme has had a positive effect on their growth, and has strengthened the interest in a public listing in the future, they say.
Batin says that ID Finance doubled its revenues in 2019, and has been listed as the fastest-growing startup in Spain by the Financial Times for three years in a row. It also closed a “record-breaking” €5.4m crowdfunding round in 2019 — “the largest ever done in Spain”.
He adds that “an IPO is one option currently under consideration as part of future funding opportunities”.
Grimmonpre says that Miracor Medical is currently raising between €18-25m, while it eyes another “big round” in 2022 which could possibly be its big break into the IPO world.
TechShare is a pre-IPO free educational programme launched by Euronext in 2015 that helps tech entrepreneurs to familiarise themselves with capital markets, available in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. The format is set up around three different modules: 2 European academic campuses, 4 local workshop sessions and individual coaching with some partners. An added benefit from the programme is the networking opportunities and the shared experience among participants. Attending companies from Ireland and Norway can also join the European campuses through IPOready, Euronext’s second pre-IPO programme. Applications are now open until 23 October for the 2020-2021 cohort. Learn more here.