French startup accelerator Numa started as a nonprofit organization 15 years ago. Since then, everything has changed in the French tech ecosystem. Numa doesn’t have the same name, office, business model and now shareholders. After successfully raising $1.1 million (1 million euros) in a crowdfunding campaign, the organization has sold more equity to third-party investors — this time, MAIF is investing $3.4 million (3 million euros).
In other words, over the past few months, Numa has raised $4.5 million (4 million euros). Before that, Numa relied heavily on sponsorships. Big French companies, such as BNP Paribas and Orange, were basically financing all the activities every year. While this probably was a good idea at the very beginning, it creates a lot of complications, as well.
For instance, Numa Sprint startups sometimes compete with some of Numa’s sponsors. It creates conflicts and disconnects Numa’s motivation with the startups’ goal. Another problem is that sponsorships are great, but there is not much room to grow. That’s why Numa needed a new model.
With today’s new influx of cash and other revenue channels, Numa has a bit more freedom to do new stuff. For instance, when I met with the Numa team in July, they were really excited about their strategy abroad. Numa wants to help local startup accelerators around the world with its knowledge and brand. This way, Numa could create a network of accelerators and get revenue from these local accelerators. Numa Moscow and Numa Bengaluru are good examples of this new strategy.
According to Numa, the plan is to support 15 accelerators and accelerate 700 startups around the world before 2019. Sketchfab, Lima and Infinit are some of the Numa-backed startups. Numa doesn’t plan to enter the U.S. — instead, it will focus on the rest of the world. Numa announced last year that it would take 3 percent in equity in its accelerated startups.
In addition to the acceleration business, Numa hosts a bunch of events and does some consulting for big French companies in order to help them understand what digital disruption is.
Overall, this new funding round is good news for Numa. If Numa wants to stay relevant in the more mature French tech ecosystem, it needs to act like a private startup accelerator. In many ways, this feels like a new beginning. There are a lot of challenges ahead, and I can’t wait to see how the French tech community accepts this change and whether it is willing to work with Numa going forward.