Founders Future, a French investment firm for European startups, is launching a new fund focused on supporting the next generation of impact driven entrepreneurs.
The fund is the firm’s second and will focus on seed and Series A investments. It’s targeting a close of €50m and has raised €20m of that so far. Most of the money has come from angel investors, including Thierry Gillier, the founder of clothing brand Zadig and Voltaire; Bris and Yves Rocher, from the French cosmetics brand Rocher; and Michael Benabou.
The fund’s primary goal is finding impact-driven startups that show transformative potential, explains serial French tech entrepreneur Marc Menasé, who started Founders Future.
“Impact is everything now,” he says. “The consumer now wants to buy products that are more respectful across many criteria, and employees want to work for companies that take into account their impact on the planet and other ESG criteria.”
Founders Future is particularly interested in finding startups working on vertical farming, last-mile delivery, mental health, mobility, cleaner alternatives to packaging and those working on the circular economy.
It’s a slightly different focus to the firm’s first fund, which looked to invest in the future of work, the future of banking and the future of health. This included investments into French fintechs Lydia, Alma, October and Memo Bank.
The food industry
Within the sectors Founders Future is now looking to fund, Menasé is particularly excited by startups looking to transform the food industry.
“I came to impact investing through the food transition,” he says, “and I’m super keen to fund projects in the food transition, I really have this in the gut — not meaning to make a joke there.”
One of the companies Menasé founded himself is Epicery, a delivery service for fresh grocery products, and he’s made investments in dark kitchen company Taster and Yuka, an app that tells you what’s in your food.
Founders Future also has a ‘venture studio’ within it to build new companies. The latest being created is focused on food — dietary supplement company Epycure.
Within its straight investment arm, Founders Future has developed a “highly structured way to invest”, Menasé says.
“We have new software called Zei which we use to assess businesses. Along with the founders, we plug in all the information we have about a startup and then we can share their impact trajectory, highlighting areas they need to improve on.”
The software could highlight that a company needs to change to a renewable energy supplier for its manufacturing process, for example, and that would be set as a target for a quarter.
“We want to back products that will make the 21st century cleaner,” Menasé says. “Tech has incredible leverage in that and there’s a great younger generation of mission driven entrepreneurs, we see real ambition for income in this group.”
Freya Pratty is Sifted’s news reporter. She tweets from @FPratty