Philippe Gaborieau, founder and CEO of Happy Capital, thinks that the growth of collaborative economy results from a deep-rooted trend. The French industry benefits from real quality guarantee, he adds, and French companies do constitute investment opportunities. Crowdfunding, although it’s riskier than “prudent-man” investment Gaborieau says, is democratizing itself, something that augurs the sector’s increased professionalization. Lastly, Gaborieau insists on the need to offer investors projects that make sense.
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A graduate of HEC Paris, Babson College (USA) and Tsinguai University (China), Philippe Gaborieau founded his first company at age 25 and then worked 25 years in various sectors like finance, mass market, industry and services in sales, marketing and management capacities. President of France’s Southwest region’s Club HEC Entreprendre, Philippe Gaborieau has founded and now heads the mergers and acquisitions firm Bordeaux Consulting Group and crowdfunding platform Happy Capital. Gaborieau answered our questions below:
1) European stock indexes keep reaching new records high and some economic growth seems to emerge ahead. As an entrepreneur and from a general standpoint, do you think there is a reason to be more optimistic?
P.G.: There has been and there will always be a reason to be optimistic. Without this creed, it’s hard to be an entrepreneur. The strength of a concept doesn’t fear crisis! I think that beyond stock indexes which are indicators that can’t be ignored but that are always a bit offbeat compared to their impact on companies’ economic reality, there is a real deep-rooted trend that benefits the collaborative economy’s experts. I’d quote the most famous ones like Uber, Airbnb or Blablacar which experienced incredible user growth rates in 2 or 3 years. Even if the service that we offer is not the same, these growth rates show the growing awareness that collaborative economy is an opportunity. This is why I’m not optimistic but fatalist. This will obviously work!
2) According to the Invest in France Agency (AFII), France ranks among the top advanced economies in terms of attractiveness. Does this official statement translate a professional reality that you share? Which assets does France represent for an investor?
P.G.: The current trend of resettlement that’s unfolding within the French industry is positive, for employment of course but for our reputation abroad too. The “Made in France” is becoming a quality guarantee, a reinsurance on the product itself and thus for the investor who bets on a French company. Make no mistake the current price of French companies is in its lower bracket and foreign investors are aware of it who see here an opportunity for a good deal.
3) You founded and now head Happy Capital, a crowdfunding company and platform. Crowdfunding is a topic everyone talks about enthusiastically while lacking real understanding of it. Is this just something in fashion or a deep-rooted dynamic able to popularize investment?
P.G.: Good ideas often generate mimetic trends. However all this is rational. Indeed, lending via crowdfunding should increase from $11.1 billion in the world in 2014 to $25.1 billion. One also sees growing partnerships between banks and crowdfunding platforms that augurs an increased professionalization of the sector. Lastly I wouldn’t talk about popularization but about democratization instead. Crowdfunding makes “success stories” available to most of the people. Crowdfunding is settling itself in the existing landscape and participates in the revolution of “consumers-actors” or more accurately the “investors-actors”.
4) The purpose of an investment is the profit one can gain from it. Beyond the satisfaction of supporting companies with sometimes exciting projects, can one really gain money through crowdfunding? Do crowdfunding’s risks differ from a conventional investment’s?
P.G.: Investing in a company that’s been listed for a hundred years and thus closer to a “prudent-man” investment portfolio differs from the investment made through crowdfunding that is riskier. But curbing such risk and optimizing the quality of the investment’s return is all that makes our added value! Beyond the introduction of a company to the crowd, Happy Capital’s role is also to accompany the companies we believe and invest ourselves in throughout their quest to gain in popularity. Quite often sincere intuitions and a bit of rationality through advanced studies, thorough business plans crafted in collaboration with fund raisers lead to success. I also take great care of sending regular updates to our “crowdfunders” customers so that they know their companies’ return perspectives. Besides this relationship with the “crowdfunder” doesn’t differ much from the role an investor relations service plays for a listed company.
5) Can you introduce a project promoted by Happy Capital and explain in several words what and how an individual investor can gain from it?
P.G.: Biosantech is a startup that has developed a candidate therapeutic vaccine of the AIDS virus. This is an exceptional project run by a number of benevolent medicine doctors like Professor Jean-Claude Chermann. The vaccine is currently in phase 2a, meaning it is currently the world’s most advanced! Investors have invested at a very low corporate value compared to the real value of a company with such project. One can easily see the interest at the outcome when the company will be valued at its proper value. The other advantage lies in the sense made by one’s investment. We seek and offer investors with real-meaning projects. Lastly, France-based investors benefit from tax deductions worth 18% for income tax and 50% for wealthy people tax.