Eric Martineau-Fortin is the Founder and co-Managing Partner of White Star Capital- an early stage institutional venture capital fund investing in consumer technology companies on a transatlantic basis. Eric has close to 20 years of investment banking and investment experience, and was previously a founding member and partner of a transatlantic M&A advisory firm in the media and technology space. Eric also worked in M&A at Merrill Lynch in New York and London, as well as at ABN AMRO in corporate finance and private equity in Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Over his career, Eric has been involved in transactions valued in excess of $10 billion. He has been doing early-stage investments since 2007 and has led multiple investments including Ludia, Betaworks, Science Inc. and Cryex, in which he holds Board seats, as well as Dollar Shave Club, Bloglovin’ and Summly.
Eric graduated from HEC Montreal in Canada and holds an M. Sc. In Finance from the ESSEC in France.
DarcMatter: Please provide a high level overview of your investment process.
Eric: White Star Capital invests between one to four million dollars per venture in young start-up companies in Western Europe and North America. We invest in standout companies that have ground-breaking technologies or solutions and in entrepreneurs that have the vision and ambition to scale globally. We have a very disciplined investment process driven by our product and operational expertise, and we love to work closely with our companies and to help our entrepreneurs build great businesses.
DarcMatter: What differentiates White Star Capital from other venture capital firms in the sector?
Eric: Thanks to our extensive transatlantic geographical reach, we have an active presence in a number of fast growing under-served markets, giving us access to high quality deal flow. We believe indeed that entrepreneurs with the vision and ambition to scale companies globally exist across a number of major hubs from New York to Toronto to London, Paris and Stockholm. That said, I also think that our team (represented by seven different nationalities), our international network and our entrepreneurial background, put us in a great position to support our entrepreneurs in their product roadmap, operational growth and subsequent fundraising rounds.
DarcMatter: It seems that VCs are increasingly targeting small wins instead of going after unicorns. Is this a trend you’ve noticed within the ecosystem? What is White Star Capital’s approach?
Eric: Our approach remains to invest larger amounts at an early stage in disruptive startups that have the potential to become huge companies in the long run. I believe this investment strategy allows us to achieve superior returns to our investors. We also dedicate a lot of our time to our portfolio and our entrepreneurs. And any transaction in which we get involved in is quite time consuming for our team. So we will only put our efforts on the best investment opportunities.
DarcMatter: Given White Star Capital’s extensive geographic reach, are there any noticeable differences between the startup ecosystems of North America and Europe?
Eric: At White Star, we believe that the tech trends in the North American and Western European markets are getting more and more similar given that both ecosystems have a strong focus on “Mobile First”. And the emergence of “the Age of Context” should reinforce this tendency- I would suggest you to read the blog post of my partner Christian Hernandez on this specific subject.
That said, I tend to think that the European ecosystem focuses more on logistical ideas and on the impact and social utility that disruptive startups can have on day-to-day life, while the US ecosystem concentrates more on the social engagement of their users. However, European startups have more pressure to generate early revenues and to build sustainable businesses given the lack of capital compared to the US market, while US startups are more looking to build strong traction with higher user retention rates.
DarcMatter: Finishing off on a fun note, tell us a little known fact about yourself.
Eric: I am Canadian, my wife is French and we are the happy parents of two beautiful American daughters.
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