eFounders morphs into Hexa, a portfolio company of startup studios • TechCrunch

For the past 11 years, eFounders has been refining the startup studio model in Europe. The company has contributed to the launch of more than 30 different startups, including three unicorns – Spendesk, Aircall and Front.

While things seem to be going well for the startup studio, eFounders is on a roll — sort of. Today, eFounders is becoming Hexa, a holding company for various startup studios.

You may have seen this change coming because eFounders hadn’t happened yet it just is eFounders for a moment. In addition to its initial studio dedicated to the future of work, eFounders has 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 then?

“I started writing an article on LinkedIn saying this is the last time I’m writing as the founder of eFounders,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elzière told me. But he is not going anywhere as the eFounders core team will only work for Hexa now.

Like other Hexa studios, there is a dedicated eFounders team with a studio head as well as a core team of product people. Matthieu Vaxelaire is now at the helm of eFounders.

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Combined, the Hexa companies employ 3,000 people and reach a total value of $5 billion. And Hexa will not change its formula in future. Hexa’s startup studios match an idea with a founding team.

The studio team provides resources and assistance to launch a product. After raising some funds, startups can achieve their independence and the startup studio can move on and focus on new projects.

“We’ve reached a limit when it comes to scalability. It’s a divine model but it’s also very hand-made,” Elzière told me. In addition to supporting Hexa’s existing studios, the company wants to launch studios around new verticals, such as climate, education and health.

But it’s up to the studio heads they meet and end up hiring. Hexa intends to launch two new studios next year.

“It’s a crazy bet for us. We are building a brand from scratch. And we do that because eFounders is a strong brand when it comes to SaaS startups, but also because eFounders is ahead of other studios,” said Elzière.

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A 30% stake

“What we do at Hexa is democratizing team entrepreneurship. We offer an alternative to traditional entrepreneurship” Elzière said. “Like many things in life, when you work as a team, it works better.”

But that doesn’t mean Hexa and its startup studios are launching new startups for fun. They are heavily involved in every new startup.

“We want to launch more startups. But it costs us about €800,000 to launch a company. We can invest money ourselves, or we can create a small fund like Y Combinator. Investors can contribute and they end up on the cap table.”

When Hexa startup studios launch a new startup, they try to retain a 30% stake in the company after raising a seed round. With third-party investors, Hexa can lower its stake to around 25%, and investors will get 5%.

Hexa’s own stake will be split between Hexa and each startup studio. “You’ll have 5 to 10% allocated to the head of the studio and their team,” says Elzière. The bottom line is that Hexa and its partners will still take a 30% stake. It will then be divided between multiple partners.

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“That deal might seem a little unfair,” Elzière said. But he thinks eFounders’ track record speaks for itself. With about 3 unicorns out of 30 portfolio companies, entrepreneurs are more likely to create a unicorn with the help of eFounders than without. In general, founders can get a smaller piece of a bigger cake.

The life and death of startup studios

But where exactly did the Hexa come from? It is from the hexadecimal numbering system. In particular, hexadecimals are used to represent binary digits (0 and 1) in computing programming. Each hexadecimal character represents four consecutive binary digits.

“For me, this is the simplest expression of the human-machine interface,” says Elzière. As a bonus, hexadecimal characters are also used by designers for color codes.

He believes that startup studios will work like startups. Some of them will prosper, others will fail. “Studios will have a certain lifespan. At some point, they’ll run out of steam because the head of the studio is gone or there’s no chance left,” Elzière said. As always, we’ll judge the quality of Hexa’s work by the new startups that emerge from those studios.

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