We sat down with Jean-Francois Thau, VP of the Mer Angels investment-syndicate to talk about their investment portfolio and their work supporting startups alongside BNP Paribas at the Cannes Yachting Festival.
Where did the inspiration for the Innovation Hub come from?
The Mer Angels mission is to connect investors interested in the maritime economy with entrepreneurs reinventing the sea. Our marine-specific syndicate was created by the larger France Angels, who represent more than 5,500 business angels in France and invested €69.5 million across 424 transactions in 2021.
We decided to support the Innovation Hub at the Cannes Yachting Festival in part to highlight the startups that we’ve invested in within the Blue Economy. We brainstormed alongside our partner BNP Paribas and came up with the concept of presenting innovation and startups at the boat show. It turns out that showcasing innovative digital platforms, toys and apps amongst visitors attending the boat show was a great idea, we’ve had some fantastic feedback!
How did you choose the startups that participated in the Innovation Hub?
The startups that participated this year were a combination of Mer Angel investments, regional startups and some others through our venture partner Mer Invest.
Mer Invest was specially designed to support the development of maritime and coastal activities in the Grand Ouest region (North West France). This fund, created by the Banque Populaire Grand Ouest group and its Crédit Maritime brand, aims to invest a total of 10 million euros. They have now supported over 20 companies.
Which startups have the Mer Angels invested in?
We have now invested in 13 companies, including SAIL.cloud, Capt’n Boat and Birdyfish.
SAIL.cloud is a data and analytics company, bringing unprecedented visibility to the sailing world. The team is building the world's first sailing data platform, which analyzes and organizes the recreational boating and inshore/offshore sailing data.
Capt’n Boat is a platform connecting boat owners and yachting professionals with professional qualified and insured skippers.
BirdyFish is a 4.7m double foiling monohull designed as a learning boat for sailing schools and sailors wanting to learn how to foil easily and safely. It is the first step, and a point of accessibility to the future of sailing…and flying.
We are also currently studying investments in Easysea, Neocean, Armen and K-Ren. In terms of what we look for as an investment syndicate, we finance seed projects and we have a strong track record as investors who not only bring the capital but also help founders and managing teams to develop their projects.
Click here for more information on the Mer Angels.