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An interview with Emmanuel LIBAUDIERE, Capital-IT

hat if you could see over 600 Venture Capital Firms and Business Angels in one day ?  Would that speed up your capital search?  For the 40 projects that are chosen by Emmanuel LIBAUDIERE and his selection committee, such is the case.   Capital-IT has quickly become the premier event for showcasing new economy projects to European financiers.  Being at the center of so many project launches, we asked Emmanuel to share his experience and give some advice to entrepreneurs.

What makes the difference today between a start-up that makes it to 1st round financing and the 20 that don’t?

There is a strong correlation between winning projects and management teams that have experience running businesses.  This doesn’t mean that business school students should not try give it a go, on the contrary there has never been a better time, but if the founding team has little experience, they need to surround themselves with experienced advisors.

Any tips for entrepreneurs on how to work the capital markets?

The most important thing today is getting your business plan to the top of the pile.  Most Venture Capital firms simply don’t have the time to read all of the business plans hitting their desk.  To get noticed, an entrepreneur must be recommended to a firm by an intermediary.

Where is the best place to find intermediaries?

They can be in many places, an entrepreneur needs a method if they are to get to the right one.   I suggest participating in as many seminars and industry events as possible.  For those who already have a business plan and a team, contests such as Capital-IT are a quick way to get wide coverage.  There are also many good business clubs, such as the Updesk Club or Gobitwin, that are good venues for networking.

Tell us a little more about Capital IT and how our readers can improve their chances of being selected?

Our goal is to provide a showcase of the best French and European projects.  We receive over 10 business plans for each plan selected.  Their are three criteria that the selection committee uses; quality of the business model, ability to provoke a change in the market, quality of the product or service being offered. 

The real test comes at presentation time.  Each entrepreneur is given 15 minutes to present their project to the 650 participants who judge the quality of the project in real time.

What future developments can we expect from Capital IT?

Capital IT is a winning format and we’ve added a forth session in October.   To help corporations and entrepreneurs get through the hoops of an Internet initiative we have created “Le Forum 2000” to help solve problems in the fields of human resources, raising capital, organization and legal issues.  The format is highly interactive and we encourage participants to bring their problems.  There is a good chance they will leave with the solution. 

I’d like to finish with a previous point you made about working with experiences advisors.  Many of our readers are in their 20’s and 30’s, how should they approach seasoned managers in their 40’s and 50’s without coming off as arrogant?

Thanks to the press, everybody is interested in Internet projects so it is easier than before to talk to these people.  You need a well thought out project to keep their attention.   Then you need a good value proposition for them.  What most top managers are looking for is the opportunity to express themselves in an area in which they can’t in their current position.  This may be an outlet for their creative side or the opportunity to make decisions in other functional areas.  Giving them that opportunity is more important than a big pile of stock options, but bring those along as well ;-)

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