For startups, funding is a crucial factor for development and growth. But there is something equally important, if not more so, that money can’t buy. Experience. This is where Project Rise, a new investment initiative set up by three local entrepreneurs comes in.
Taking inspiration from similar projects in cities such as London, Paris and Amsterdam, Patrick Kersten, Christophe Folschette and Thibaut Britz aim to emulate that success here in Luxembourg, by providing mentorship, alongside funding, to ambitious local entrepreneurs.
Between them, they have forty years combined experience of launching and growing startups. Patrick has had a lot of success founding online businesses, including Doctena and atHome Group. Christophe and Thibaut both have experience working on projects within the tech space. Over ten years ago they co-founded together the, now international, social listening and conversational intelligence platform, Talkwalker. From these experiences “we have a lot of ‘learning money’ ” explained Patrick. And they’re looking to share this with other entrepreneurs through Project Rise.
Project Rise: from founders to founders
The mentorship element is what differentiates Project Rise from most other business angels and VC funds in Luxembourg. Rather than simply investing money, they will be advising startups on how to increase their chances of success in the long term. They can do this, thanks to direct experience of going through the funding process themselves, which many VCs don’t have.
But rather than seeing traditional VCs and business angels as competitors, the three founders view them as partners for Project Rise. “It’s all about finding the right team for startups” explained Christophe. One role they aim to play is helping entrepreneurs secure funding from these investors, and use this investment to grow.
“We are not a start-up studio. We’re looking for people who have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at least and who are looking to grow.”
Helping ambitious startups tackle the biggest challenges
And securing funding is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs in Luxembourg face, according to Thibaut. Specifically when they are looking for later stage investment. Whilst a lot has been done to support new businesses at the early stages of their journey, through startup incubators and seed funds, the difficulty lies in securing investment to grow. “There is seed funding around [in Luxembourg] but not from people who will help you, as an entrepreneur, prepare for the next stage of fundraising” highlighted Patrick.
Another challenge that many local startups face is growing their business internationally. As Christophe explains, it’s important to support entrepreneurs in “leveraging Luxembourg to keep one foot on the floor and then expand out.” A lot of startups struggle to grow because they get stuck in Luxembourg. In order to get to the next level of funding, they often need to show international success, which many can’t.
Having experienced both these challenges themselves, the founders of Project Rise are in a good position to support entrepreneurs at this stage. And this is the reason for starting the project. As Thibaut explained, through Project Rise they wanted to see “how to create an ecosystem to [help entrepreneurs] be more successful in future…there’s something missing in the current space, and that’s entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs”
Finding the perfect partnership
For entrepreneurs to get the most out of a partnership with Project Rise, they need more than just an initial idea. As Patrick explained, “We are not a start-up studio. We’re looking for people who have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at least and who are looking to grow.” The ideal candidates for this mentorship are entrepreneurs who already have an idea of how they would like to scale their business, and want to test it. This is where the founders can really offer the value of their experience.
When it comes to starting partnerships, the fund is open to working with any entrepreneur in Luxembourg – locals or expats – who fit this criteria. There is no limit to the number of startups they would be open to investing time and money in. The most important factor is whether it’s a good fit for both parties.
For any entrepreneurs looking to grow their business to the next stage, they can reach out to Project Rise directly through their website to discuss opportunities.