A recent post was dedicated to explain the first successuful exit for crowdfunders that happened in October about a deal involving the Biotech start-up called ANTABIO (France).
As the Canadian community wanted to know more about that story Seeding Factory has interviewed Antoine Lemonier, founder and CEO of ANTABIO.
Seeding Factory: Hello Marc, thanks for accepting this interview! First of all could you quickly present ANTABIO?
Marc Lemonier: ANTABIO is a start-up biotech company dedicated to the discovery of novel drugs to treat and prevent antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. ANTABIO’s novel compounds block the drug-resistance mechanisms and the virulence of pathogenic bacteria by targeting key bacterial pathways. Incorporated in 2009, the company is based in the life-sciences technopark “Biostep” near Toulouse, France.
S.F.: Could you explain us why you’ve decided to go and raise money through WISEED.com ?
M.L: The famous “Death Valley” for entrepreneurs and startup biotech companies is a real problem, and the economic climate is not helping. There was a need to find an alternative model to fund the very, very early stages of the development of our projects. At this time we knew a crowdfunding platform, based next to us, in the Toulouse area. Although most of France’s crowdfunding platforms were seeding artistic ventures, WISEED.com focused on innovative business and technology start-ups.
Through the WISEED platform, ANTABIO raised 300,000 k€ in less than 3 months in contributions from more than 200 small investors, enabling the company to achieve its goal of €1 million in seed financing. We used the funding to complete proof-of-concept studies in its two discovery platforms and move its technology to a value point that would interest larger investors.
More details about the ANTABIO deal here.
S.F.: Since the very first contact, then during the following 18 months, what kind of relationship did you build with WISEED?
M.L.: It was a very smooth relationship because we knew each other. By the way WISEED was not involved in the day to day management of the company. Basically they played the role of a shareholder in our company thanks to the holding they created to gather all crowdfunders.
WISEED was acting as a middleman between crowdfunders and us. A representative from the holding was responsible for managed the 200+ investors who believed in us.
S.F. : By the way do you know what kind of crowdfunders have invested in ANTABIO?
M.L.: Profiles of investors are very diverse: people simply looking for an investment opportunity, common people concerned about the unmet medical need of nosocomial infections, friends and family, entrepreneurs…
One obvious thing: we are grateful to all individuals for their valuable feedback and comments.
The crowdfunding opportunity
S.F.: As an entrepreneur, what do you think of equity-based crowdfunding for start-ups? What are opportunities? What are the obstacle?
M.L.: For us the crowdfunding experience was a real succes. It has clearly helped us to survive the famous “Death Valley” during those past few years. For entrepreneurs the current difficult economic climate in Europe has lead to a shortfall of other funding alternatives. In addition to unlock fresh money the crowdfunding concept is also a fast and easy process (only 3 months to raise 300,000 k€)
However the model also shown limits. Compared to other source of investsment, an entrepreneur will rarely raise millions via crowdfunding. Plus the expertise and support ordinary brought by venture capitalists or angels make a difference.
Finally even if our story is a successful one we have to remember that it’s a world-premiere. It means the model has no relevant track-record and only the future will prove the crowdfunding capacity to generate wealth for both entrepreneurs and investors.
S.F.: According to you experience what are the key points that an entrepreneur should focus on to attract crowd-investors?
M.L.: One of the most important factor is to connect with the people’s needs. It means generating value and profit while addressing a true society problem. In our case, the objective is clear: answer a major unmet medical need.
S.F.: Some people are afraid (especially in the US following the JOBS act signature) that equity-based CF could lead to frauds and other scams for novice investors. What do you think about it? Do you think the crowd is wise enough?
M.L.: As for all financial deals, if you want to build solid foundations for your business you need to work with renowned professionals within the proper legal framework. That is what we did while choosing WISEED.com. If you do that, there is no reason crowdfunding should be a problem for your venture.
S.F.: Finally, what do you think the Biotech/Health industry, a capital consuming sector, should expect from crowdfunding?
M.L.: An ideal bridge opportunity to cross the “Death Valley” and engage a virtuous circle.
You are in the biotech industry too? We would like to know your feeling about the crowdfunding concept!