Enterprise startups are not sexy but charming

For the past three years, the French startup ecosystem has been totally reinvented: new VC models appeared (the Daphni mutant), giant campus settled in the capital city (Station F), and amazing startups are now unicorns (Blablacar, Criteo, OVH, Sigfox etc..). France is a great place to settle a business as R&D is recognized to be high standardized, and has some of the best schools and research centers in the world (especially engineering).

However, even with this craze, the French enterprise startups sector has issues to grow. A pity for a market that worth $3.5 trillion worldwide. Why ? 3 reasons. Firstly, because it’s not hype. Enterprise startups have long, difficult and (most of the time) unsuccessful sales process (whereas B2C can grow quicker and bigger). Secondly, business startups are also working on unsexy innovations: for example, expense management for companies (Jenji) or bug bounty as a service (Yogosha). Thirdly, Corporates and SME’s are (still) not ready for digital transformation, open innovation started lately in France. It’s not a scoop: Silicon Sentier is not Silicon Valley: risk perception is higher, cash availability is resourceless and decision making is different. Why are enterprise startups charming? Because the most profitable customers are other companies and software is now omnipresent in our life (car, supermarket, house..).

Axeleo is the only French Enterprise-focused accelerator. Based in Lyon and Paris, the accelerator is backed by 40 French successful entrepreneurs. Founded by Eric Burdier (CEO), Christophe Dumoulin (Chairman) and Laurent Fiard, Axeleo provides a hands-on program focusing on accelerating post-seed stage ambitious startups. Dedicated to the B2B sector, the program’s goal is to accelerate eight new companies per year (for a 500 startups deal flow per year). Unlike others accelerators in France, Axeleo doesn’t provide shared offices. Our mission: lead our startups on the growth path.

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18 months program to help startups growth

During the acceleration, founders are challenged about their sales strategy: we redefine business model with them, we help generate leads, nurture them and iterate the model to convince a client to another. We are ensuring success, find a model that could bring significant growth by structuring sales processes and channels.

« enterprise is sexy when you think about it as a way to help people collaborate and create better companies » –  Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of Asana

When it’s all set, we identify key people to make introductions and bring potential customers. That’s part is possible thanks to our C-level partnership (former entrepreneurs). It is a powerful value as they can leverage their extensive network and bring their operating experience. The partnership background: IPO, international development, sales strategy from startups to corporates.

In the meantime, when the sales part is running, we are focusing on the fundraising. Here’s our equation:

Fundraising = best VCs fit + great startups conditions + cash needed

We are working with our startups to have the best conditions to present their cases in front of VCs. The first impression for a date is the same for a VCs meeting: we choose the right time during the acceleration program, we prepare an ambitious (and achievable) business plan with a reasonable amount of money. We are not fundraiser and we don’t provide fund without accelerate startups

The 18-month acceleration program has supported thirteen B2B startups from all over French Tech (Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier, Paris..) from Artificial Intelligence, Smart Industry to Enterprise Software. First results were fast: in one year, nine of the startups accelerated have created more than 45 jobs and a total amount of €3 million turnovers.

Moreover, the Axeleo program helped to raise almost €25 million with outstanding stories. For example, TellMePlus (Predictive Analysis startup) grabbed €4.2 million from Ventech Capital, XAnge & Runa Capital or Deepki (energy efficiency startup) raised €2 million with SNCF Digital Ventures.

In a series of articles, you will learn more about our vision, who we are and what we are looking for (a kind of FAQ). It’s the best way for you to understand the types of startups we accept and understand our mission.


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