Startup accelerator Le Camping is finally shifting its model — everyone has been waiting for this change. It will now take 3 percent in startup equity starting next season. I sat down with Le Camping manager Elise Nebout to discuss the move.
Le Camping started three years ago and it was one of the first French startup accelerators in France. Five batches representing 62 startups went through the program. Just recently, Twitter acquired Mesagraph, Lima raised $2.5 million after a very successful $1.2 million Kickstarter campaign, Infinit raised $1.8 million, Sketchfab now provides an exporting option for 3D files in Photoshop.
But the accelerator has had an issue for years. Behind Le Camping, you can find Numa (formerly known as Silicon Sentier), a nonprofit organization. That’s why Le Camping has chosen to work with sponsors, such as Google or Orange, to fund its activities. In exchange, the accelerator would take 0 percent in startup equity.
When I talked with startups who participated in Le Camping, they all shared the same sentiment. They criticized that Le Camping’s performance wasn’t tied to its portfolio companies. Le Camping’s true business was making sure that its sponsors were happy. Imagine a fintech startup disrupting the banking industry — how would BNP Paribas (a sponsor) feel and how should Le Camping react?
This is one of the reasons why TheFamily exists. TheFamily CEO Alice Zagury was formerly Le Camping’s manager. She got frustrated with Le Camping’s structure and decided to create another startup accelerator.
Coincidentally, TheFamily and Le Camping now both take 3 percent in equity. Yet, multiple startups from Le Camping joined TheFamily afterwards. To do that, the founders only had to give 3 percent away. Now, many will have to choose between the two accelerators.
According to Nebout, the number of applications for next season has never been so high. Le Camping will become a private company, fully owned by Numa for now. If Le Camping generates a profit from portfolio exits, it will reinvest the money in Numa.
It remains to be seen how sponsors will react and whether the accelerator will try to rely less on them. But in short, today’s news is a small step but an important one for the accelerator.