BGV is a VC firm based in Silicon Valley that invests in Enterprise Software. With a new office in Paris Region, the team at BGV was blown away at the support and opportunities offered by Paris Region including connections to relevant start-ups and corporations. But if BGV chose Paris Region as its European hub it is mainly for its large talent pool as well as the strong entrepreneurial spirit now engrained into the French way of doing business. We had the pleasure to meet Sarah Benhamou, Principal at BGV Europe & Israel to find out more about the firm’s global footprint.
Please tell us a few words about BGV and tell us how you connect with the French Tech ecosystem.
BGV is an early-stage Venture Capital firm based in Silicon Valley, investing in Enterprise Software and more especially in verticalized AI, Programmable Cloud and Cloud Native Security solutions. We are specialized in cross-border investments, helping companies that are conceived outside the US to expand there. We are sourcing deals from Europe with a strong focus on the French ecosystem, Israel and India. I must say that we have a French DNA in the team as two of our General Partners, Eric Benhamou and Eric Buatois who live in the US, and I are French. We have made several investments in France and looking forward to doing more!
What led you to open a ‘flying’ office in Paris Region and what kind of support did Paris Region provide you?
We strongly believe that there are good investment opportunities in France and being on the ground is always better! When you are not here physically, it is more difficult to know what’s going on. I am the one spending most of my time in Paris – meeting entrepreneurs and my VC peers. Paris Region has been very helpful, connecting us to relevant start-ups and also connecting some of our portfolio companies to corporates.
What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business?
Covid-19 has definitely changed our way of working – how we spend our time. Depending on the personality, those changes can be viewed as negative or positive. We are spending most of our time on Zoom. Travelling is difficult, almost impossible but hopefully at least one BGV team member is present in each geography we are focus on so we can still meet entrepreneurs when needed. Overall, our portfolio companies are doing well as Covid-19 is dramatically accelerating SaaS companies. More Zoom, more collaboration, more e-commerce, more digital selling, more digital transformation and automation, more web infrastructure… which create new business opportunities!
It seems like French start-ups resisted quite well to the sanitary crisis, probably due to the French government’s and Paris Region’s covid-19 response plan. Do you agree?
Absolutely! France’s Relaunch Plan has reduced the cash pressure for companies who have seen their activities stopped because of covid.
Paris Region is maturing into an impressive start-up ecosystem, attracting foreign talent and funding. Research even shows that France receives more VC funding than its European counterparts. How do you explain this success?
Foreign investors have finally a very positive view of French entrepreneurs and start-ups. Large IPO and big exits have removed negative bias. Also, the mindset of French people has changed, with a stronger entrepreneurial spirit and growing international ambition. There is a large high-qualified talent pool in France. The country is recognized for its scientific skill set and has the expertise to develop the most innovative technology with great research hubs such as INRIA, CNRS. The ecosystem is also becoming more and more mature with a dense network of incubators/accelerators and a growing number of VCs, so great ideas can be supported to become global leaders.
Please describe the business in Paris Region in 3 words
Support, Connections, Professional!
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Olivier AllegretInvestment Projects N. America