I joined Orange in 2008 to manage partnerships within the digital ecosystem (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia), and since 2012 I’ve been head of the Orange Digital Investment team, which manages both the corporate venture activity of Orange Digital Ventures (Group strategic acquisitions or investments), as well as external venture capital funds.
“We’re primarily targeting entrepreneurs and start-ups who aim to create the services, technologies and economic models that will define tomorrow’s digital business”
Yann Kandelman, Head of Investment & Development at Orange Digital Ventures
“Launched in 2015, Orange Digital Ventures (ODV) is a 150 million Euro corporate early stage investment fund. It supports early-stage start-ups (with a product and first customers or pilot), who are looking for funding to accelerate their development. ODV is an evergreen fund, which means we reinvest the revenue earned (through the sale or IPO of a start-up company) into new projects.
In addition to financing, ODV brings “smart money” added value to its selected start-ups by facilitating synergies with the Orange Group and its customers. Firstly financial: their solutions can be distributed by Orange or Orange Business Services, for example, or used within the Group itself. Secondly technical: start-ups are supported by a network of Orange experts.
Every day we come across ambitious start-ups through our proactive sourcing and detection networks – in particular internal, leveraging the Group’s network, and externally through our wider contacts. We also meet them at tradeshows or they contact us directly. We give priority to the ones related to Orange’s five strategic ambitions: IoT, enriched connectivity, digital business transformation (Cloud, Big Data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, customer experience), mobile financial services as well as Africa and the Middle East.
The selection is carried out by a multidisciplinary team, which brings together members of the ODV team and digital experts alongside members of the legal and financial team. We focus on the people behind the start-up and the quality of their teams. We go through the turnover and customer forecasts very carefully, but the determining factor remains how innovative is the proposed solution? Is it revolutionary?
The ODV fund seeks to invest in start-ups who – regardless of where they’re based – have the ambition to develop internationally and become a world leader in their field. Our fund is therefore global: since 2015 we’ve made 15 investments, half of which are in the United States and the other in Europe. We recently launched Orange Digital Ventures Africa, dedicated to African start-ups or start-ups that target the African market, with a team based in Dakar.”
“Orange has provided Actility with funds, technical collaboration, international support… and credibility”
Olivier Hersent, cofounder of the start-up Actility – leader in supplying network solutions and IT management systems adapted to IoT
How have you benefited from Orange Digital Ventures investment?
Firstly we’ve been able to focus on our disruptive solutions. These solutions offer the world of telecoms new markets and new applications within the field of connected objects and IoT. Our market leadership was another major advantage.
How does the partnership with Orange work on a day-to-day basis?
Our partnership with Orange extends across different areas. Firstly, its international operations give us access to different markets. Secondly, we’re collaborating on designing innovative products such as transport and logistics trackers, connected lighting for smart cities…
What major advances have you been able to make thanks to Orange funding and synergies?
As a strategic and historic investor in Actility, Orange Digital Ventures supported our development very early on. The funding, coupled with technical partnership has enabled us to grow and expand our activities to move up the IoT value chain. Benefiting from ODV funding and the support of the entire Group has also brought us greater credibility. Orange has seen the relevance of our projects in terms of this market and chosen to support us! In 2017, we completed a second investment round of EUR 75 million.