I had the pleasure of meeting Marcel Dridje several years ago in London. He is an EBAN Board Member | WBAF Academy Member | GTM Strategist | Start-Up Mentor | Executives Advisor| Business Angel |President Emeritus Sophia Business Angels. As a seasoned angel investor, he graciously offered to provide insights from the angel’s perspective.
Marcel has substantial field experience helping IT, Deeptech and Telecom startups in the US and EMEA. Marcel has a broad range of experience in all aspects of sales, marketing, communication and management with direct experience with Fortune 500 enterprises (IBM, Nortel, Lucent, Cisco, EMC, ALU) and startups (Quantum, Andrew Networks, Pluris, Corvis, Ascend and Airespace).
During the course of his career, he has held VP roles most notably as VP EMEA Corvis (first all-optical router) where he grew the team and business to outstanding success. Of French-Algerian and British origin, Marcel launched his career after completing a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science from Portsmouth Polytechnic UK. He walked away from his first position with IBM UK as an Applications Engineer greatly relieved to embark on a career in sales…his forte and passion. Bi-Lingual in French and English with a working knowledge of Spanish, Italian, German and Arabic.
Three major highlights from his career include helping Airespace to be the #2 WLAN in EMEA market share and positioned Cisco to be #1 WLAN vendor worldwide. He has helped start promoting the Cisco VCE alliance (VMware, EMC, Cisco) and the BMC OEM relationship to Kick Start their first SP IaaS Cloud offering on a worldwide basis. He also pioneered the French ISP Internet business while leading Ascend’s insertion into FT/Orange’s first ISP business to include ISDNET, OLEANE, and Internetway.
Marcel most recently left CISCO after 30 years in IT and Telecom Sales to start his new venture as a Business Angel to help startups with Mentoring, seed money, VC connections, and business development.
How did you get into angel investing?
I am a serial Entrepreneur and “Intrapreneur “ at Cisco Systems once they have acquired Airespace back in 2005. Kicked off many US TECH EMEA offices from scratch, grew the business, hired A team and either gone through IPO Nasdaq or got acquired. Having been a serial entrepreneur, I then became a serial angel investor particularly in Cybersecurity, AI, Agritech, BI and Data Analytics.
What is the best way to approach an angel investor?
You have to have an excellent Mission Statement and proof that you have delivered on that mission statement. You need to show that you have some contracts (market traction).
What common mistakes do you see in startup pitches?
Entrepreneurs show way too big numbers for the addressable market and do not show that they have in any way gotten contracts from that addressable market and they always fail to fully address the Competitive Landscape.
How closely do you work with the founders?
I work very closely with founders who I believe in by mentoring them and helping them with Customers POC, Investment and GTM strategy.
How important is the team?
The CEO is absolutely paramount but needs to have an A+ team. Don’t invest in Family member’s projects.
How do you help them open doors?
If I believe in the CEO, I will help her/him open doors as based on my 30 years International Biz Dev, Mktg & Sales … I open my network to him or her. BUT, they must have a real value and customer proposition with a real product offering
What do you think is the most over-rated technology?
I do not have an opinion on this but would say Fintech & AI
Over the years, you have been a member of several angel networks – what do these groups bring to new angels?
I first started with Sophia Business Angels in 2013 once I left Cisco. From there, I became VP then the President two terms in a row until Jan 1 st 2020. We helped PACA ANGELS ( South coast of France with 5 clubs from 5 cities ) then Galata Business Angels in Istanbul then joined the European Business Angels EBAN Board. Just co-founded our new MEDITERRANEAN BAN. We always brought Best Practices and shared deal flow to include cross borders investment.
How did you get involved with the Sophia Business Angels?
I was invited by Candace Johnson ( Space Lady BA based in Nice) to a meeting to join Sophia Business Angels back in 2013. There were 30 members including 7 women from 7 different countries.
What types of startups do they invest in?
What are you focused on these days?
I recently joined the WBAF World Business Angel forum providing courses and workshops for their Business Angel training Academy. My latest workshops include http://www.eban.org/training-moroccos-angel-investors and https://www.businessjyvaskyla.fi/en/hippos2020-international-venture-academy.