An Interview with Pierre-Eric Leibovici, Founding Partner of Daphni, a new disruptive pan-European VC firm based in Paris

Pierre-Eric Leibovici is the Founding Partner of Daphni, a new European €150M VC.

Daphni’s model relies on community and a home made digital platform focusing on startups with strong European DNA and international ambition. Daphni mainly invest in Seed, Pre-Series A and Series A rounds, and will be actively investing in the Nordics, therefore we decided to get to know Pierre-Eric and Daphni a little better.

Which start up verticals interest you most right now?

I don’t like to think about sectors. If we were able to anticipate the next disruptions, startups would be financed by traditional bankers because the risk would only be a risk related to execution. In Venture Capital we finance risky companies that seek to develop new technologies and usages. They don’t always succeed because of many reasons including execution, timing, technological or market penetration issues.

Also, rather than focusing exclusively on sectors, at Daphni we have designed a framework to understand the assets of European startups on which they can leverage to increase their global competitiveness and therefore their chances of becoming leaders. We came to the conclusion that this framework is based on very specific European DNA articulated around 3 pillars:

  • Collective: With quality infrastructures, an inclusive way of designing education, healthcare, finance or insurance services, as well as their stronger usage of sharing economy, European societies have a deep sense of collectiveness.
  • Quality of life: With life/work balance at its heart, Europe has developed industries like tourism, culture, leisure, food, as well as a greater sense around privacy & wellness.
  • Inventiveness: Creativity is Queen in Europe as it demonstrates its leadership in the luxury or fashion industry, but this creativity is also technical with strong engineering skills & savoir-faire, and a tradition of invention.

Projects built around one or more of those attributes have more of a chance to get my attention.

What are your biggest predictions for the next 12 months?

Major markets like agriculture, food or education have really not been disrupted yet. I am not sure about the timing but there will be major innovations in those sectors and many opportunities in AgriTech, Foodtech and EdTech.

I think that the solidification of the digital economy will accelerate around IOT and service robotics projects. Most VCs don’t like hardware startups. I am not one of them. I think that there will be great ventures to finance. In my perspective their assets will mostly rely on their software expertise and their capacity to integrate various technologies and sciences. Service robotics is a science of integrations that requires owning and controlling many fields of expertise.

I am also observing a lot of changes in the VC market. The LPs and the entrepreneurs have new expectations. They want VCs with a very clear value proposition. The entrepreneurs don’t see them as a financial investor but more like a service provider (money is part of the service). Also, the VCs have to increase the level of added value they propose to help the company scale.

The LPs want more transparency and want to have access to the ecosystem and a closer relationship with the startups. I think there will be new players entering the market with a new model. Daphni is a good example. We have decided to digitalise the VC business through the development of our home made platform. The objective is to automise every step of our value chain. We are the first VC-as-a-platform and probably not the last one.

Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?

The simplest ideas remain the best ones. When I look around, I am surprised I don’t see great innovations around products we all use on a daily basis. What about the bed? We spend many hours a day in our bed, yet it remains a very poor experience with no tech embedded in either the bed structure, the bedroom or the mattress, where many people have back pain for instance.

On the food market, the distribution channel remains very inefficient with a lot of intermediaries. I would be curious to review opportunities around a new scalable model of distribution between producer and consumer.

If you could wave a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to a problem you’re facing (personally or at work), what problem would you solve?

I would love to have more time. It would be so great to have a product reducing my need to sleep. I would also accelerate the transport automation process in order to have only autonomous electric cars especially for short distance inside major cities.

If you would like to reach out to Pierre-Eric then you can do so at [email protected] or on Twitter @pel10

Questions inspired by, and with the blessing of Requests for Startups

“In the tech world, things move fast and companies are born anywhere in the world. I’m able to have an ear to the ground with The Nordic Web – the content is fresh, local, and of high quality, which is exactly what you need as a seed investor.

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— Nathan Benaich, Playfair Capital

Neil S W Murray founded The Nordic Web in 2014 in order to provide the Nordics with the quality coverage it deserves. As well as being Founding Editor of The Nordic Web, Neil is also an active community builder in the region, participating in a number of initiatives, and has previously worked for