Why I decided to invest in a GEM start-up

September 1st, 2017 | Roger

I’m Roger, currently living in London were I run a letting agency since 7 years. I recently invested as an angel investor in Coolhobo, a ARVR (augmented reality / virtual reality) startup founded by Florian Garrigues and Loic Kobes, two Grenoble Ecole de Management alumnis in Shenzhen, China.

Here is why. 

ARVR shopping by Coolhobo

Coolhobo user testing interactive VR shopping with hand recognition and modelling

Investing without meeting

Loic, Florian and I quickly met 10 years ago, when they were 1A at GEM. Most of our conversation happened in Les 2C or at La Kfet and we were NOT speaking about innovation and technology... It was very hard at that time to imagine our paths would cross again, but I guess GEM is for life!

I was curious when my friend Lucas Botebol (GEM ESC 2010) mentioned Coolhobo. At that time, I didn’t consider myself as an investor. I later found out everyone can become one. Helping them could help me in the future, so I jumped in. How? I basically signed some paperwork and transferred the funds. It is obviously a big risk as 90% of startup fail within 2 years but I’m confident in Florian and Loic’s ability to deliver value and use the funds wisely, especially since they also invested all their savings into the venture.

Why I chose to invest the real economy

Startup investments are the exact opposite of real-estate: maximum risks, maximum gains. By definition, startups navigate between many unknowns and variables - and without any past to rely on, making it a daily survival. I can only admire those who choose this difficult path.

So what does a startup angel investment look like? It’s an equity investment, meaning it’s illiquid, meaning I can’t take my money back as I could with listed companies. Paperwork was very straight forward, Coolhobo offered me the same condition as the American venture capital SOSV who invested in them last year. Knowing a famous US VC already invested in the startup few months earlier reinforced my confidence.

Only fools would tell you they don't invest for financial returns. I took high risks because the expected returns are high, potentially up to 30 times my initial investment. But I also did it to live through them a new adventure and contribute to the real economy. I admire entrepreneurs who got out of their comfort zone, struggling for better future.

AR shopping app coolhobo screenshots 

Screenshots of Coolhobo's AR shopping app

What do they do?

As their official communication goes, “Coolhobo is the future of shopping, building an ARVR shopping platform”. The app offers augmented reality in store and virtual reality at home, creating a new shopping experience. I’m not a tech guy, so instead of explaining you the details, watch this:

Think about the big picture: retail and supermarkets haven’t changed in 50 years (ask your parents and they'll tell you how were supermarkets in the 70's). However, shoppers have radically changed. And that opens up the possibility of one of the biggest disruption ever, as consumption is the pillar of our economy. Go for it guys!

As a conclusion, I’ll quote another GEM alumni, Frédéric Gaillot from GEM ESC 97, “The network simply helps connect the right people with the right opportunities”. I am proud to say that I’m one of the first investor in Coolhobo. Only future knows if they will make it, but I’m glad to have joined the ride. If it’s something that interest you, get in touch with Loic or Florian, they are cool…Hobos!

PS: I actually googled hobo to confirm my initial impression, and yes, it means vagabond or homeless people. But obviously, there is a story behind that!


Coolhobo founders