"We are not technicians or experts. What's more important is a clear business model and an adequate market," underlines Alain Clerc. "Food, digital, nuclear, whatever... We can't be experts in everything that goes through our hands," says Sylvie Guillonneau.
In your pitch, time to cut out those technical or scientific terms that you might use with your collaborators. Your goal is to make your project intelligible. Not comprehensive. Practice on your family and friends, your grand-parents, your nieces and nephews (a 10-year old makes an excellent practice subject - seriously!), to get your message clear and easy to grasp without using jargon.
"Target consumers, complete market studies, proof of concept, proof of interest from prospects, patents, benchmarking reports etc.: this is what we are interested in," lists Sylvie Guillonneau. "Our role is not to help you with early stage technical set up but to give a boost to a product or service with potential and financial viability. To evaluate technical aspects, we trust our partners with expertise in other areas."
n°4: show your commitment
"We are very interested in people and their profiles," says Sylvie Guillonneau.
Do you believe in your startup? Are you prepared to make a financial commitment to ensure its success? "The personal side is a relevant element, just as much as being able to offer collatoral," says Alain Clerc. Sylvie Guillonneau adds a nuance: "Even if, of course, we don't have the same expectations of collatoral between a 28 year-old and a 50 year-old."
Having been the recipient of interest-free loans, or a willingness to find investors, can also show your commitment to your startup's story. "The lack of your own funds doesn't have to mean the end of the road: if a person is genuinely motivated and committed to taking equity investors, that can compensate."
n°5 : be transparent
Startupper/banker: it's a relationship based on trust... in both directions! So you need to be completely transparent.
"I prefer to avoid any unpleasant surprises," says Alain Clerc. "It has already happened in the past that we have given loans to people with zero funds. Because we trusted them. On the other hand, if someone is evasive, or coats the truth to suck us in, it's very difficult to get back that trust."
Sylvie Guillonneau adds "You shouldn't hesitate to contact us or ask us questions. When an individual comes looking for funding for their startup, they become a businessman. The relationship changes, but we are looking out for your interests too."