Q&A with Stéphane Longuet, co-founder and managing partner, Convivialité Ventures

Christian Porta, France-headquartered liqueur group Pernod Ricard’s managing director of global business development, said: “Pernod Ricard’s vision is to be ‘Créateurs de Convivialité’, which means that we create the conditions to transform every social encounter into a unique experience of authentic sharing – bringing the right product at the right moment at the right place. How? We are transforming the Pernod Ricard business model into a Conviviality Platform: it is about leveraging data, technology, new ways of workings and above all our collective intelligence.

“Convivialité Ventures is one of our key assets to identify partners, promising business models and explore the future of Conviviality. They are a tool for the group’s transformation and innovation outside of the core, in services and experiences. Our investments and partnerships with portfolio startups like Glovo (on-demand delivery), Fever (experiences marketplaces) or BrideElysee (weddings) have already started to deliver meaningful strategic benefits.”

Regarding the fund, Longuet said: “We invest from the balance sheet, with an internal investment committee including our corporation’s CEO, managing director and chief financial officer (CFO), the top three of Pernod Ricard Group, meaning endorsement of our CVC by the top management.

“Our group CEO Alex Ricard tasked me personally to create the CVC unit four years ago, and 100% of the money comes from the corporate.”

Strategic and Leadership measures:

1. How many collaborations with startups has your fund done in the past year?

Likely more than 20 but we are not tracking the number of collaborations we have generated with startups between our corporate and startups even if we do not invest.

2. Number of investments you have made in the past year:

We made 20 investments [in 2020], including 11 new companies and 9 follow on investments.

3. Number of collaboration engagements with your portfolio companies:

We established collaborations with 12 out of 20 startups in our portfolio

4. Team expansion and recent promotions:

We are probably one of the most global CVCs since we have a team of nine people in the United States (San Francisco), China (Shanghai) and France (Paris) – the last one overseeing deals from Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Latin America – and now we are expanding to India where I am hiring currently an investment director. We have made investments across the three geographies: the US (9), China (5) and EMEA (6).

5. Plans for the year ahead:

  • Increase fund size to open India, add two full-time employees to the existing nine from the global team.
  • Explore investments opportunity in Southeast Asia from China.
  • Expand thesis to even more business-to-business topics – sales and marketing, sustainability and responsibility – we originally only covered business-to-customer [deals].

6. Pain points and opportunities you’ve encountered in corporate venturing:

Opportunities

  • Possibility to access amazing startups leveraging our positioning as CVC that can add value to the startups.
  • Contribute to innovating and transforming our core business through investments and partnerships with disruptive startups.

Pain points

  • Get into the most competitive deals like Clubhouse – was not possible even if we heard about it early and were connected to Andreessen Horowitz – since we are not leading deals and are co-investors, so sometimes we are coming too late in the round.
  • It takes time and a lot of effort to create impactful partnerships with startups.

7. What do you think all corporations or CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry?

Play the VC game while investing (same rights as everyone), be a good and easy co-investor with VCs, avoid leading and letting VCs do it, potentially co-lead.

Do not force a partnership: Adapt the partnership to the maturity of the startup, meaning when it makes the most sense for both the startup and the corporate.

8. For colour, what did you do prior to your venture role or in your spare time?

I have been working in various leadership roles for my corporation as CFO and general manager of business units. In my spare time, I am a DJ in real life and online during the covid pandemic.