Many biotech startup CEOs rely on the support of their advisors when going public. But after the IPO, they face new challenges in communication, business strategy, and financing. The Euronext-funded TechShare program educates and enables young entrepreneurs, and facilitates a smooth transition from private to public.
Camille Leca, Chief Operating Officer Listing at Euronext
Camille Leca, Chief Operating Officer Listing at Euronext, introduces the concept: “TechShare is a free-of-charge, one-year, pre-IPO program built on three pillars: First, we organize two two-day academic seminars on high-level, relevant topics, held at renowned business schools, such as HEC Paris.”
For these seminars, all participants come together, creating an ideal networking opportunity. Boris Iseli, CFO at Abionic, a new participant from Switzerland, expects this to be essential:
“With its broad and growing community of renowned and experienced professionals, the TechShare program is a unique opportunity to build a strong network and get valuable knowledge on the IPO process. It will help us enter the financial markets, and allow us to share and exchange ideas with other tech company executives.”
TechShare is a free pre-IPO program organized by Euronext. It teaches entrepreneurs how to have a successful IPO and to face the challenges after the IPO
The second pillar is monthly technical sessions held in each country. “We meet for a couple of hours in the evening to discuss questions like ‘How does an IPO work? Who are the stakeholders involved? What are the analysts’ expectations?’” Camille explains.
“Most importantly, we invite former participants to share their real-life experiences. This often leads to very lively and interactive discussions!”
The participating companies come from a broad variety of tech sectors — including IT consulting, biotech, medtech, cleantech, TMT, digital services, software, electronics and hardware. “Our participants see great value in interacting with people from different backgrounds, and are often surprised to learn that they have very similar problems and questions,” Camille says.
The third TechShare program pillar is comprised of one-on-one, confidential coaching sessions with lawyers, auditors, and financial communication agencies, typically held on the business premises.
Together with the coach, the entrepreneurs build their individual roadmap answering the following questions: What needs to be prepared for the IPO? What to expect during the process? How to best anticipate changes in local standards or government decisions?
In addition, the coaching sessions serve to identify current weaknesses and development areas of the company—a useful exercise even if the CEO eventually decides against going public.
“In fact, every year there are companies that take other routes: Some are acquired, some take another VC financing round before the IPO. Sometimes, CEOs move on to the next company, and go public with that one,” Camille says.
Successful TechShare IPOs
The next TechShare program will start recruiting participants in March
Theranexus (ALTHX), a French biotech focusing on CNS disorders, went all the way, and is now listed on Euronext. Franck Mouthon, CEO at Theranexus and 2015/2016 TechShare participant, believes the program was very valuable for his successful IPO:
“The new insights on financial mechanisms and requirements changed the way we looked at the stock market, and helped us realize its potential to turbocharge our growth plans. We are delighted to have been part of the program.”
The 2018 candidates
TechShare started in 2015, with only 30 participants from four European countries. This year, over 130 participants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland have joined the program.
And the demand is still growing, especially in the biotech sector. To select the most promising candidates, a formal jury has been installed in France, with experts from associations, clusters, and industry. In other countries, local Euronext representatives conduct one-on-one interviews.
Camille explains the selection criteria: “We are looking for companies with innovative development projects and significant financing needs—that is, at least 15 million Euros within the next two to three years. Rather than the actual revenues, we consider the equity story. If the company has been able to raise five, ten, or more million Euros in a financing round, we estimate it’s mature enough to go for an IPO.”