Investor interviews - The point of view of Marouane Bahri,
Investment Director at Entrepreneur Venture
Can you introduce Entrepreneur Venture, your asset management company and your activities ?
It is an asset management company created by entrepreneurs that will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary, which has evolved considerably over time and which would now define itself as a financing solution platform for SMEs.
We offer complementary financing solutions, equity, private debt through convertible bond funds and a trade receivables buyback solution: factoring through a subsidiary called Smart Tréso.
We are 25 people dedicated to the investment and monitoring of investments and we currently manage around 800 million euros.
Why did you choose private debt to finance SMEs ?
For us, private debt is one of the financing solutions for the SMEs we support. We have chosen to structure FCPR funds dedicated to private debt and more specifically convertible bonds since 2012.
We invested in more than 100 SMEs in convertible bonds. We chose this tool because it is a differentiating and complementary solution to the equity investment that can be provided and that other colleagues can provide. It is a flexible enough solution to finance growth, whether it is organic growth in France or abroad, or external growth: the convertible bond, which is a tool in fine, allows the company to finance this growth. Finally, we see the convertible bond as a very flexible tool, with little or no dilution for entrepreneurs and which supports them in their growth.
How can a platform like FirmFunding help develop this private debt market ?
We believe that SMEs are less used to private debt products and today, even with several operations carried out in convertible bonds, the market is still to be evangelized on this type of product. The founding entrepreneurs are often not aware of the very existence of this product and the benefits it can bring beyond equity or loan.
A platform like FirmFunding makes it possible to democratize this product in a way and to open it up to several different players. Being present on this platform allows Entrepreneur Venture to have access to a fairly large deal flow, files that we probably would not have thought of or had access to. This platform makes it possible to open this product to SMEs everywhere in France in a fairly simple way.
Why did you choose to focus on SME financing ?
Entrepreneur Venture was created by ex-entrepreneurs who are still at the helm of the management company. This creates a very present DNA that is to finance entrepreneurs before financing companies and SMEs. Financing SMEs is always closely linked to their founders, to their managers, is a key point for us.
We believe that helping these SMEs to become more mature, to reach ETI stages, to internationalise is a key subject that is close to our hearts and that is why we will continue. We have financed more than 150 of them in more than 20 years and we will continue to finance and support entrepreneurs in their growth.