French Tech: How do business angels work?

Posted July 5, 2022, 7:30 am

They are present at the very beginning of the startup adventure. Business angels provide both a financial package and various consultations (strategic, personnel, commercial, etc.). But who is behind these individual French tech investors? The Angelsquare investor community conducted a survey among its members, the results of which are exclusively provided by “Les Echos”.

It is not surprising that business angels are mostly men – only 16% are women. As in startup teams, women are in the minority, but they are increasingly investing, particularly through associations such as Femmes Business Angels or specialized funds such as Leia Capital or WinEquity.

Founders and first employees on the front lines

Business angels surveyed by Angelsquare are 45 years old on average. “He is quite young,” emphasizes Charles Degand, president of the investor community. More and more tech entrepreneurs who sell their businesses are creating holding companies to invest in startups. It somehow became fashionable. “Some early adopters of startups who have exercised their BSPCEs (a type of stock option) are also investing in young shoots.

According to Angelsquare, approximately 77% of business angels surveyed have been in the business for less than ten years, and 53% for less than five years.

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Angelsquare also asked participants in its study to provide details – declarative data – about their investments, including their performance. To be as representative as possible, medians were calculated rather than means.

The result: the average number of investments in a startup is 15, and the most active business angel has a portfolio of 200 investments! It should be noted that investing in startup capital allows you to benefit from tax reductions, just like investing in SMEs. The average size of the investment ticket is €31,833: €35,208 for men and €29,545 for women.

More or less positive results

What about exits (share transfers in takeovers, IPOs, etc.)? More than 45% of investments in startups lead to a partial or complete loss of capital, 37.6% allow at least tripling of their stake. And about 11% assume that the winnings are 10 times their stake. “The average output multiplier is 5.2. It seems huge, but it is pulled by several huge exits, ”explains Charles Degan.

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The average exit time is three years. “That’s pretty short,” comments Charles Degan, who clarifies that the longest appointment is fifteen years. Respondents also noted that it takes about three years to realize that you have lost all or part of your bet.

Finally, Angelsquare asked participants what happened to the startups they invested in at seed: 20% went to Series A, 3% to IPO, and 11% went bankrupt.

With the fundraising slowdown and the current valuation downgrade, the coming years could be very different for business angels. Not to mention the possible bankruptcies that await French Tech.

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Angelsquare collected data from 130 French business angels belonging to its community, representing 3,081 investments for a total of €544.2 million. Angelsquare shares medians rather than averages because averages, inflated by the existence of extreme values, are not representative of the situation of all participants.


Investing in startups is a very risky investment. Past results are no guarantee of future results.