Kima Ventures is an international seed fund that launched this year with the goal of investing in 100 startups in two years. How are they doing? Well, they’ve invested in 42 companies so far and have raised their goal to 200 startups. They’re part of the new wave of super angel funds that is taking France by storm, but they invest all over the world, including in the US.
The fund is the brainchild of Xavier Niel, the self-made billionaire founder of Free, France’s biggest independent ISP, and new part-owner of Le Monde, France’s most prestigious newspaper, and of Jeremie Berrebi, a French-Israeli serial entrepreneur.
Kima Ventures is probably the most active seed-stage fund in the world right now, maybe even more active than accelerators like Y Combinator.
Berrebi gave an interview this morning to French startup blog FrenchWeb.fr. We’ve picked some of the best takeaways.
(Disclosure: I advised Kima Ventures’ launch and cofounded one of their companies.)
When they started earlier this year, they wanted to invest in 100 companies in two years. Now the two entrepreneurs have decided to invest in TWO HUNDRED startups in the same amount of time.
By way of comparison, in a traditional venture fund each partner might be expected to sit on 10-12 boards, so a 2 partner venture fund might have 20-24 portfolio companies max. Superangel fund Founder Collective, also founded this year, which the Wall Street Journal recently named the most active in the US, has 24 portfolio companies right now.
Entrepreneurs frequently complain about the slow decision-making process of many venture firms. Kima Ventures has closed investments in one hour. They will often take 24 hours. Basically all it takes is for both partners to like the idea and the team.
Because the fund invests all over the world, Berrebi smilingly says that he's never met many of the entrepreneurs in the portfolio.
Kima Ventures will invest in pre-revenue, pre-alpha startups, but they must have a good business model. 'I need to be able to explain it to my grandmother,' Berrebi says.
Sorry, twitters need not apply!
Since Niel and Berrebi are both successful internet entrepreneurs, they will roll up their sleeves and help you get your company off the ground. 'We're not interested in exits, we're interested in profitability,' Berrebi says. They help entrepreneurs with the nitty gritty, like increasing conversions.
Some people doubt whether Kima can productively help out 200 portfolio companies, but while Niel is focused on running his own multibillion euro company, Berrebi works on Kima full time, ie 15 hours a day, 6 days a week. (Note: I can personally attest to this. Berrebi is a very hands-on investor, and is freakishly tireless.) Berrebi notes that many of their portfolio companies face similar issues, so they can help several at the same time. For example, half a dozen of their portfolio companies are currently expanding to the US from outside, so they can pool resources in helping them out there.
Asked whether this model can scale to 200 portfolio companies, Berrebi shrugs and says 'We'll see!'