GCV Synergize 2017
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Herlaut, F

Fabienne Herlaut last year created multi-corporate fund Ecomobilité Ventures as a spin-off from
French national railway SNCF.

As president of Ecomobilité, Herlaut said: “I have about 30 years’ business experience, which is
a combination of consulting and family office work. I worked in consulting for five years and created
the Paris office of [investment consultant] Bain & Co. I then worked 10 years in a family business
as deputy general manager and as one of the shareholders as well. I then spent 10 years in large
industrial companies.

“Finally at the end of 2007 I was recruited by SNCF to become head of strategy and sustainable
development. I was asked by the chief executive to create SNCF’s corporate venture fund,
Ecomobilité Partenaires. SNCF committed €15m [$22m] for the project. Then with the support of
SNCF, I created the second fund, Ecomobilité Ventures, with corporate partners to focus on the
mobility market.”

Ecomobilité Ventures is also backed by local oil major Total and France Télécom’s mobile phone
operator, Orange.

Herlaut said one investment in her track record stands out for having made a 100-times return.

She said: “At our family business we had a fantastic success in 1998, when we sold an online
trading business. It was very new that you could buy stock exchange shares online. We invested
€1m and sold it for €100m. That was absolutely outstanding and something I have never been able
to do again.

“We had one or two other significant successes. Making a five-times or 10-times return for an
industrial, mature business is pretty significant. It is too soon to talk about exit success with regard
to companies in my portfolio. Yet I really view our active shareholder role to support entrepreneurs
as relatively new, and a driver of future mutual success.”

Lessons from the top: Herlaut said: “What matters most are human skills. The human skills of
people investing in a human relationship built between start-ups and a corporate venture fund."