French startup studio eFounders just raised $6 million from Fotolia co-founder Oleg Tscheltzoff to build its next batch of software-as-a-service startups. So far, eFounders is behind five startups that are now independent — Mailjet, Textmaster, Mention, Front and Aircall. Pressking has been sold, and two startups are in the works — Illustrio and Tipi.
With today’s funding round, the company expects to launch 6 new startups over the next 18 months. As always, eFounders will find a founding team and match them with the right idea. It will give them advice, best practice as well as internal tools.
“We’ve been flying a bit under the radar for the past 4 years and half, building our projects,” eFounders co-founder and CEO Thibaud Elzière told me. “For the past year, we’ve been working on building our foundation — we now have a platform, a process.”
Unlike Rocket Internet, eFounders focuses on SaaS startups and wants to carry a startup for up to 18 months. After this initial launch, the startup should be able to stand on its two feet. So far, it’s been working well for some startups, and moderately well for others — there has been quite a bit of turnover among startup founders.
“Now that we have a platform, we don’t ask ourselves the same questions over and over,” Elzière said. “We know how to build a product, how to launch a marketing campaign… We try to reuse the same processes as much as possible so that we can focus on the core business.”
And eFounders sill has a lot of ideas up its sleeve. Illustrio will let you customize stock illustrations, such as maps or diagrams, directly in your browser. Tipi will help you manage your office, from meeting room reservations to holidays and more. eFounders is also working on a sort of Squarespace for your backoffice as well as a B2B payment solution.
For all these projects, the startup studio receives around 100 applications per month to become CEO or CTO of these new startups. While eFounders doesn’t take any revenue cut from its startups, it kept between 50 and 66 percent of the initial equity so far. This can change of course after new funding rounds.
So what’s next beside these new startups? Elzière told me that he doesn’t plan to work with a gigantic team, and thinks eFounders’ sweet spot is a team of 15 to 20 people with a wide range of qualifications. It’s an interesting hands-off strategy as eFounders won’t lend engineers or designers to new startups. This way, when a VC invest in an eFounders startup, they can be sure that they are investing in this startup’s team, and not eFounders’.
As eFounders only generates revenue with startup exits, it will be interesting to see whether the studio can consistently create valuable companies again and again so that it can generate healthy returns.