SBA Connect

SBA Connect is a quarterly newsletter to foster communication with entrepreneurs and the investment community. It contains club updates, wins from our portfolio companies, exciting discoveries in technology, business opportunities and summaries of events.

SBA Connect Volume - 10

27 Dec 2023

This last SBA Connect issue of the year highlights the events, investments, partners, members, and global outreach of 2023. The SBA has continued to spread its unique global brand of early stage investing, mentoring and angel network promotion not only within Sophia Antipolis, France, Europe, and the USA, but also to Africa, and the Middle East, all the while welcoming entrepreneurs from as far away as Korea and China to our flagship International Venture Academies.

SBA Connect Special Memorial Edition for Eric Cokini, President of the Sophia Business Angels (July 31, 1965 – October 5, 2023)

14 Nov 2023


All of us in the Sophia Business Angels (SBA) community were shocked and devastated to learn of the loss of our dear friend and SBA President, Eric Cokini on 05 October 2023.   Our hearts go out to his lovely wife Dildora and his three children, Adrian, Aurélie, and Alexandre.  His career successes were numerous. Eric spent three decades in management positions in sales, trading, distribution, import-export in new technologies, commodities in Africa, Europe and CIS, consulting in compliance, AI, big data and GDPR. Two years ago, Eric joined the ComoMet Industry Trading Green Tech initiative in the non-ferrous metals sector, working on industrial by-products and residues generated by mine, metallurgy, petrochemical, and chemical industries. A native speaker also fluent in English and Russian, he holds a master’s degree in finance from HEC, Jouy en Josas.

SBA Connect Volume - 9

31 Dec 2022

This Volume is a special edition where SBA reflects on its 20th Anniversary year, highlighting achievements and future plans and thanking its members for investing in entrepreneurs and the early stage ecosystem.

SBA Connect Volume - 8

25 May 2022

This year, the Sophia Business Angels celebrates its 20th Year!  We will have many events this fall to mark this milestone including the establishment of an innovation fund honoring our founder, Senator Pierre Laffitte.  In this issue we look forward on how we can do better in the next 20 years. We also highlight our investment Interstellar Labs, and announce our partnership with EuropIA Capital, an angel club and investment fund.

SBA Connect Volume - 7

23 Nov 2021

In this edition: Highlights of SBA-SKEMA International Venture Academy which focused exclusively on “Green Tech” as well as Startup Factory in Cannes, our investment Gomecano, the automobile mechanic home service, and two new SBA members, Audra Shallal and Marc Cetto. SBA President Candace Johnson was recently featured in Fortune Magazine as one of the space leaders in “Ladies who Launch”.

SBA Connect Special Memorial Edition For Senator Pierre Laffitte

23 Nov 2021

We at Sophia Business Angels were particularly saddened by the news that our dear friend and colleague, Pierre Laffitte, passed away on 7 July, at the age of 96. He was the President and founder of the Sophia-Antipolis technopole, the largest technopole in Europe.  An eminent scientist but also a committed politician, Pierre Laffitte sat in the Senate for the Alpes-Maritimes region from 1985 to 2008 where he served as the specialist in innovation issues.

SBA Connect Volume - 6

22 Sep 2021

The sixth SBA Connect edition contains news about the club’s events, partners, mentee and investee companies, and its members’ achievements, including the sale of Light Tec to Synopsys by SBA member Yan Cornil. The club hopes for a similar success with its recent investment in EMPE Diagnostics, a TB diagnostics technology company. The investment came about through SBA’s membership in EBAN and collaboration with other angel organizations. The lead investor has a PhD in Immunology from Harvard University.

SBA Connect Volume - 5

04 Nov 2021

Volume 5 of SBA Connect highlights the success of several members who participated in a 1 million euro closing in France, as well as the Startup Factory event held in September that reinforced ties with the regional innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem. Due to the pandemic, the International Venture Academy was transformed into a Pitch & Coach session for online coaching, and SBA welcomed three new members who participated in the event. The newsletter also features Vice President Jonathan Laroussinie in the Member’s View section and announces upcoming pitch sessions with promising startups. Additionally, a partnership was finalized to help members master digital marketing.

SBA Connect Volume 4 covers various topics, including a profile of board member Olivier de La Meslière who liaises with funds/VCs, and the introduction of five new members. The Start Up Factory event, set to take place in September in Cannes as part of a partnership with CréACannes, is highlighted in the events section.

SBA Connect Volume 3 discusses the challenges that France faces as it emerges from lockdown and how bold and fast leaders need to be to restart the economy. The issue features an article by Joe Tabet from the Harvard Business Review (French Edition) who provides insightful answers to the crisis. The member’s view section profiles Barbara Saxby, a new board member who brings marketing expertise and fresh ideas to the group. The publication also highlights the activities of SBA members, including the startup hotline, and provides information on GDPR compliance for start-ups.

28 April 2020

This newsletter highlights the profile of a new SBA member, Charles Sidman, and invites readers to attend his upcoming webinar on “Different Investor Approaches to the Early-Stage Asset Class.” The article also discusses a recent UPE webinar on the impact of the COVID crisis on the startup ecosystem and the need to adapt to the new world post-pandemic. The newsletter emphasizes the importance of successful exits for both startups and investors and discusses Michael Porter’s five forces analysis on how the BA investment world will change, with a focus on the increased competition for funding opportunities. Overall, the newsletter encourages startups to think outside the box and be creative to attract investors in the post-COVID era.


The SBA board for this year initiated several projects, and this newsletter is one of them. The first issue was released earlier than planned due to current events. The author shares personal experiences of going through major dramatic situations such as the Gulf War, Tsunami, and the 2008 credit crunch. The stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, help individuals understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The first issue covers updates on SBA, issues impacting startups and business angels, spotlight on a startup with an innovative way to address the current situation, views on best practices, SBA members’ activities in the community, events section, and food for thought section. The goal is to provide hope to navigate through these troubled times. 

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