Season 10 - The second round of fundraising

Episode 10 - March 2023 - The F1 of growth funds has its eye on us

Adrien Aumont — Now, we’re sure that the hotel giant doesn’t plan to finance Midnight Trains in its entirety. We need another investor. A financier capable of putting a large amount on the table. Enter a third giant who’s weighing in on the fate of Midnight Trains. It’s a massive management company that manages several investment funds, including growth funds. But unlike the other two, it’s already made a brief appearance in our adventure.

Romain Payet — Another flashback. Months earlier, the business angel we’ve already told you about (the one who raised millions from very different funds) had mentioned this management company. One of the largest in France, with a public presence. It invests each year in hundreds of different companies, via its various funds, in which it invests the capital. However, unless you work in the industry, the name probably won’t mean anything. It’s part of this shadowy world that finances others without ever making itself known. Our angel thinks that Midnight Trains could be of interest to this management company. And vice versa. We’re talking about funds of 15 or 20 million euros, which is precisely what we need to complete our financing and launch our first line. He put us in touch with one of the leaders of this management company. But we never get a reply…

Obviously, after a while, we stopped relying on this answer, but didn’t forget the investment company. When we established the list of targets for our last roadshow, we added its name to the list. After all, they were a real target for us. We thought it might just remind them they owe us a phone call.

Adrien Aumont — And bingo, this gigantic investment company finally responds and it’s interested in investing in Midnight Trains, and investing enough to take us over the line. In particular, it manages a fund dedicated to smart cities - the metropolises of tomorrow, if you will. It invests in companies that enable the creation of more modern, sustainable and livable urban environments, including low-carbon transport players. However, if you’ve read all the episodes of Bright Futures, you’ll know that the night train is a champion within the category and is far ahead of most of its competitors.

Of course, there's nothing simple about it. We talk at length, in person and by videoconference, covering a lot of topics. We test some economic theories presented in the project and have to produce tons of paperwork so as to provide them with all the information they need to make a final decision. It could be the starting point of our first reinvented night train line.

Nicolas Bargelès — We passed all these tests without losing the interest of the investment company. Then comes the partners pitch, a presentation in front of the partners. We arrive at the investment bank’s magnificent offices in the opulent 8th arrondissement of Paris. Most of the partners are there, in person or by video from some of the largest financial hubs in the world. They’re all rock stars in the financial world, and invest tens, and even hundreds of millions of euros each year. We’re in the Holy of Holies of business financing. Time to perform.

Of course, it wouldn’t be real life if there weren't a few technical glitches. Several associates are late. Another, based in Singapore, can’t see us. And then, the presentation software doesn’t work. We spend twenty long minutes trying to fix it. When investors of this magnitude wait for your presentation, it takes forever. These are painful details, but don’t stop the presentation itself from going well. But, at the end, we feel that the room has been divided in two. Those who believe in it and those who doubt it. One of the big bosses tells us that the night train is out of fashion, and that our prices are too high. His proof? He went to Barcelona for €35 and it took an hour and forty minutes. As you can tell, he’s not a regular reader of Bright Futures. Even worse, his vision of passenger transport is on a par with low-cost airlines.

Adrien Aumont — We come out of the conversation with heavy hearts, without any real clarity on what just happened. So we sit in a local bar, a little stunned, as we’ve just made a pitch which could change everything. Yet we can’t see the wood for the trees. Are we any closer to financing? It’s totally unclear. Until we receive an email from the investment bank a few days later.

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