Season 10 - The second round of fundraising

Episode 9 - January-February 2023: a late Christmas present: the giants are watching over us

Adrien Aumont — After the end-of-year holidays, most people have a sore liver and a head full of good intentions, going home with a bunch of gifts, ranging from the awesome to the useless. Things are a bit different for us. All we can think about is the possible answers to our new roadshow. It’s the only present we really want to receive this year. It might seem a little insensitive to our families and loved ones but, rest assured, they don't take it badly. They know how important this project is to us. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit will know what we mean.

Santa Claus got our letter. But he didn’t give us what we expected to receive. One morning in January, the investment bank called and told us we had two responses. Two major businesses were interested in the idea of ​​investing in Midnight Trains. But not infrastructure funds. First, a global hotel giant. Then, a sprawling group whose name is across a huge and varied range of products. So it’s major. They’re household names. It’s a big surprise, but we understand immediately that we have a game to play. We’re committed to funding Midnight Trains, with or without infrastructure funds.

Romain Payet — It's time for a little reminder. We talked about it in the previous episode, but our latest roadshow isn’t just aimed at infrastructure funds. We’ve also targeted what we call strategic players. Or companies the investment bank has identified as possible interested parties in the project. To do this, it relies on its knowledge of these companies, their short and medium term strategies, and appetite for certain sectors. In short, market research. Regarding these first two, things feel clear. Both the large hotel group and multi-sector brand have strong interests in rail. They’re very different, but very strong.

Nicolas Bargelès — As soon as these expressions of interest arrived, we agreed on one thing: our hearts were leaning towards the hotelier. The other group will be a plan B, or plan C, if the rest doesn't work. The amount that the latter plans to invest is lower and they’re trying to attract us into a market we’ve already eliminated from our list. So we let them come to us. You have to learn to watch your back and not leap in with every bit of good news.

From the first meetings with the hotel group, our feelings were confirmed. It becomes clear that we have obvious synergies in hospitality and distribution. Better yet, we realise that our interlocutors have previously evaluated the French sector and market, and know what they’re talking about. They delved into the subject of rail, the opening of the market, and asked in-depth questions. They even present to us some of the barriers they’ve identified and ask us how we plan to break down or get around them. The dialogue is healthy: it’s clear, we have changed gears. The investment bank made a strong selection for this roadshow and we take immense pleasure in these discussions. It seems there might be a large-scale industrial agreement to be found with this hotel group. This shows you the excitement that grips us.

Adrien Aumont — When there’s such synergy, as Nicolas mentions, it can sometimes lead to shotgun marriages. Over the course of the meetings, we reach a point where everyone seems convinced that all this is going to get done. Then the subject of the brand name comes to the table. The representatives of the hotel giant don’t really imagine keeping the name Midnight Trains. Instead, they want to franchise: give our trains the name of one of their hotel chains. But we believe our project is unique, and needs a name that’s in keeping with that. Especially since the amount the hotel group intends to provide isn’t enough to complete our financing and therefore doesn’t justify changing our name. Fortunately, there’s a third giant who has made its interest in Midnight Trains known. And thanks to them, we could make the perfect team.

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