Reality beautification is a common practice in the startup world. American Theranos is an extreme example. Its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, has just been convicted of fraud against its investors, following her trial held since last September.
“Elizabeth Holmes built her legend thanks to the complicity or incompetence of too many people, including investors who are no longer doing their due diligence. [des vérifications, NDLR] what they should do. In the end, this generates “you coward” bubbles Alexandre Bonetti, founder of Simplébo, website building software. “Companies with realistic numbers, for their part, are undervalued,” adds the leader, who is always communicating about his financial results.
In 2021, his startup registered 4 million euros. “Without salespeople in the field and after I’ve raised a little money [500.000 euros en 2015, NDLR] ”, refers to the self-proclaimed leader, a loss of 400,000 euros.
The secret of the FT120 is somewhat
Profitability is often not a short-term goal in French technology. Financial transparency either. Like any unlisted company, a French startup must publish its accounts, which are then made available to the public (via sites like Societe.com, Pappers, etc.).
But the vast majority of French start-ups do not comply with the exercise because in case of non-compliance, a fine of 1,500 euros and 3,000 euros in case of a repeat offence is sufficient. According to data extracted by Pappers for “Les Echos”, only 37 companies FT120 (or 30.1%) have published their accounts in the last two years (balance sheet and income statement).
However, two of them have to announce their results for regulatory reasons: Alan (health insurance) and Younited Credit (a credit institution).
This reluctance to open accounts can come from investors, who don’t want their competitors to know the valuation/turnover ratio (or annual recurring income) of the companies in their portfolios or even the startups themselves who don’t want to let their competitors see anything.
He mentioned another reason: the economic model of the startups themselves. “The one-year accounting turnover does not reflect the quality of the fast-growing tech company,” he said. Simon Dawlat, president of Batch, a startup specializing in web and mobile notifications.
Internet and external sharing
However, the director, while announcing his latest fundraising, shared his turnover for 2020 (7 million euros in 2020), an increase of 40% compared to 2019. “Our financial performance is public internally. The leader assumes.
The same philosophy from the side Fast, the PC rental platform for businesses, which recorded revenues of €6.3 million in 2021 (and profitability!) while receiving only €162,000 in January 2021.
“We give all the numbers to everyone: permanent contracts, work-students, freelancers…when everyone has the same information, it pushes the group in the same direction, notes Alexander Berish, if the growth at a given moment we will say almost flat or we haven’t We are profitable.”
Revealed…but not much
In Simplébo, the company’s key figures (turnover rate, customer satisfaction index, attrition rate) are displayed on the startup employee’s homepage. His boss wants to exercise transparency even further: “I dream of comparing companies in terms of their financial efficiency, that is, how much they spent to achieve their growth rate. The company that makes 1 A million turnover with a deficit of 5 million has nothing to envy for a company that makes 800,000 euros in sales with a deficit of 200,000.”
However, the level of detail was not defended by the surveyed startups either. “This will show roughly competitive tactics such as the percentage devoted to marketing or the level of outsourcing of technical functions, for example,” says Alexander Berish. “I don’t necessarily want to see all the streaks, active activity, what takes off or what doesn’t,” adds Alexandre Bonetti.
In the UK, all startups publish their accounts. And the competition is not fiercer than anywhere else.
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