In this panel led by Fannie Delavelle, Europe Manager at EuroQuity-bpifrance during BIG 2022, you will get the answer to this question and many more with great insights from Alexis von Tschammer, CEO of Lactips, Anne Sophie Carrese, Partner at Elaia Partners and Louis Fleuret, Deputy Director at La French Tech. In the first part of this series of articles, get some valuable insights from Alexis Von Tschammer, CEO of Lactips*:
-Fannie Delavelle: France is currently in a phase on reindustrialization and your company Lactips opened recently its new production site. What tips would you give to deep tech who are still in the startup phase to become a scale-up/SME?
-Alexis von Tschammer: Collaboration with big public institutions is important. You can’t achieve your startup journey alone. Bpifrance and La French Tech helped us to gain more visibility and introduced us to a lot of potential partners and clients. Being part of the EIC Scaling Up programme also was a formidable help to gain more visibility,take part in primary/ high-level conferences with key stakeholders and decision makers.
-Surround yourself well: when you are a deep tech CEO, you need to hire people with the right set of skills at every level of operations. For instance, in the direction committee of Lactips, the R&D chief, the business director and myself all have 20-25 years of experience in the plastic and wrapping up sectors. We benefit from a great network that makes it easier to communicate about our products.
-Be well financed: don’t be afraid to have big ambitions and to act fast. And to do so, you need money: it’s better to be a startup that quickly answers the market needs rather than a startup that is surviving by doing managing the small funds it has.
-Choose the right market: Young entrepreneurs have the tendency to go all over the place and because they want their products to fit all applications. But a lot of times, only one out 10 applications works and it makes you waste a lot of time. Always keep in mind the voice of the customer (VOC) and the market needs. That’s why being in contact with organizations such as La French Tech, Bpifrance or the European Innovation Council is important because they have a great understanding of the markets and can enable relations with key stakeholders and decision makers.
-Don’t underestimate the industrialization phase: you can have a great commercial success at the start but if you miss the industrialization phase in terms of quality, safety, processes. For instance in the food sector, you have to really understand the legislations and requirements around it. A contamination can shut down a company.
-F.D: what are the challenges that you face at the scale-up stage?
-A.v.T: There are three main challenges we are currently facing at the moment with Lactips:
-How to achieve a successful industrialization phase: being well prepared and the opening of our production site give us market credibility and will allow us to produce the Lactips solution at a big scale. It is major to understand the safety and quality processes to meet the standards of the food and the medical industries we want to work with.
-The technological challenge: we are on the final stage of proof of concept in terms of industrialization with our clients. It’s the last 10%; often the first 90% are quite easy when you launch a new business, but the last 10% are the most complex. You need to make sure that your industrial strategy matches the industrial reality of the market.
- Good targeting of our international partners: we have for ambition to expand at the international level in 2-3 years to achieve a successful launch at the international level. I have an international profile, I lived and worked in the US for 15 years, I also worked in Asia and many regions across the globe. My big network in the regions will facilitate partnerships but also the recruitment of the right people who will develop our business in these zones. In addition to that, La French Tech and EIC Scaling Up offer great support in this internationalization aspect.
*Lactips is a company that produces plastic using milk protein. The advantage of this product is that it is 100% natural, hydro soluble, biodegradable, on earth, oceans, rivers and leaves zero micro/nano particles and its application is eligible to offer new solutions for wrapping in a large array of industries such as indoor sports or the paper industry. Lactips is one of the 37 companies part of the EIC Scaling Up programme.
Alexis Von Tschammer, General Director of Lactips, is a trained Engineer with 20+ years of experience in the plastic sector working for big groups such as Mitsubishi and also worked in the paper industry.
In the next part of this three-part article series, you will get the perspective of Anne-Sophie Carrese, Partner at Elaia Partners on how investors can help deep tech startups in their scale-up journey.