Over the past 11 years, eFounders has perfected the startup studio model in Europe. The company has contributed to the creation of over 30 startups, including three unicorns – Spendesk, Aircall and Front.
While things seem to be going well for the startup studio, eFounders is turning around – sort of. Starting today, eFounders becomes Hexa, the holding company for various startup studios.
You may have noticed this change coming because eFounders was gone just eFounders for some time. In addition to its initial studio focused on the future of work, eFounders has already launched two new studios — Logic Founders for fintech startups and 3founders for web3 startups.
Hexa will run three different studios – Logic Founders, 3founders and, yes, eFounders. So what happens to eFounders?
“I started writing an article on LinkedIn saying that this is the last time I am writing as the founder of eFounders,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elzière told me. But it’s not going anywhere as the core eFounders team will just be working for Hexy from now on.
As with other Hexa studios, there is a dedicated eFounders team with the head of the studio, as well as a core team of product people. Matthieu Vaxelaire is now at the helm of eFounders.
In total, Hexa companies have employed 3,000 people and have a combined valuation of $5 billion. And Hexa does not intend to change its formula in the future. Hexy startup studios match the idea with the founding team.
The studio team then provides resources and help to bring the product to market. After raising funds, startups gain independence and the startup studio can move on and focus on new projects.
“We have reached the limit when it comes to scalability. It’s a virtuous model, but it’s also very handcrafted,” Elzière told me. In addition to supporting existing Hexa studios, the company wants to launch studios around new industries such as climate, education and health.
But that will depend on the heads of studios they meet and ultimately hire. Hexa intends to launch two new studios next year.
“It’s a crazy bet for us. We create a brand from scratch. We do this because eFounders is a strong brand when it comes to SaaS startups, but also because eFounders has overshadowed other studios,” said Elzière.
30% of shares
“What we are doing with Hexa is democratizing team entrepreneurship. We offer an alternative to traditional entrepreneurship,” said Elzière. “Like many things in life, when you work as a team, everything works better.”
But that doesn’t mean Hexa and its startup studios are launching new startups for fun. These include a significant stake in each new startup.
“We want to launch more startups. But starting a business costs us around 800,000 euros. We can invest some money ourselves or create a small fund like Y Combinator. Investors could contribute and they would be on the capitalization table.”
When Hexy startup studios launch a new startup, they try to keep a 30% stake in the company after collecting the seed round. With outside investors, Hexa could lower its stake to around 25% and investors would receive 5%.
Hexa’s own share would be split between Hexa and each launch studio. “You would have 5 to 10% that would be allocated to the head of the studio and his team,” said Elzière. Most importantly, Hexa and its partners will continue to hold a 30% stake. It will then be shared among multiple partners.
“This deal may seem a bit unfair,” said Elzière. However, he believes that eFounders’ achievements speak for themselves. With roughly three unicorns out of 30 portfolio companies, entrepreneurs are more likely to create a unicorn with the help of eFounders than without them. Basically, founders can potentially receive a smaller share of a larger pie.
Life and death of startup studies
But where exactly does Hexa come from? It comes from the hexadecimal number system. Specifically, hexadecimal is used to represent binary digits (0 and 1) in computer programming. Each hexadecimal character represents a string of four binary digits.
“For me, it’s the simplest expression of human-machine interface,” said Elzière. As a bonus, hexadecimal characters are also used by designers for color codes.
He believes that startup studios will work the same as startups. Some of them will grow, others will fall. “The studies will have a certain lifetime. At some point, they will run out of steam because the head of the studio will no longer be there, or there will be no opportunity left,” said Elzière. As always, we will judge the quality of Hexa’s work based on the new startups that emerge from these studies.