Sophia Business Angels News

Dear SBA Members, Friends and Colleagues from around the world.

It has been an exciting time since our last regular SBA Connect and we are most pleased to share with you news about our various activities, investments and members below.  

Highlights of the last months include a premiere for our traditional SBA-SKEMA International Venture Academy which we organized with the BGTA, Shanghai Green Technology Bank and which for the first time focused exclusively on "Green Tech"!  

We were also thrilled to partner with the City of Cannes for our first StartUp Factory taking place in the context of Canne's BIG Challenge which also featured "Get in the Ring" and where the SBA StartUp Factory provided the Grand Finale.  

In this edition, we are featuring one of our latest investments, Gomecano , the automobile mechanic home service which is revolutionizing the garage industry and saving all of us hassle, time, and money!  The SBA were the first Angel Investors in Gomecano and we are pleased to have continued our investment in their recent A round.

Concerning our members, we are delighted to welcome two new SBA members, Audra Shallal and Marc Cetto, as always of international scope and backgrounds and to highlight our SBA President Candace Johnson who was recently featured in Fortune Magazine as one of the space leaders in "Ladies who Launch".

Enjoy and please give us your feedback at

Start-up Factory

French Acoustics wins 1st prize amongst a field of great StartUps at SBA Start Up Factory, 17 September at La Bastide Rouge during the BIG Challenge


The Sophia Business Angels closed the two-day BIG Challenge event at La Bastide Rouge, Cannes on 17 September with their semi-annual StartUp Factory featuring pitches by 7 hand-picked, excellent StartUps and Keynote Speeches.

The winner was French Acoustics,, a StartUp incorporated by graduates of Sophia Business Angels partners SKEMA and PolyTech and now being accelerated at the Pôle Entrepreneurial Bastide Rouge.  The three co-founders have created a revolutionary audio platform of high-quality speakers, “Made in France” that truly rival the traditional global manufacturers, Dolby and Bose of today.  If “seeing is believing”, then “hearing is believing” with this entrepreneurial company who is already manufacturing their first products and generating revenues.

Fast on the heels of French Acoustics were six other StartUps, Gandee, Holivia, TalentCoin, Instant2gether, Objeos, and AquaBioMass, all incorporating the three themes of the StartUp Factory — AI, the creative industries, and the environment within their products and services.  We were also most proud to have 4 Female Founders represented among those StartUps chosen to present at the StartUp Factory.

The two entrepreneurs of Videtics,, an AI security company based in Sophia Antipolis and winners of the Get in the Ring competition during the BIG Challenge gave tips to the secrets of their success during the in-camera judging session, during which the audience could also give their vote.  

The StartUp Factory was held in partnership with our long-time partners,  Pôle Entrepreneurial Bastide Rouge.

We were most honoured to have Mme. Françoise Bruneteaux, President of the Digital Transformation and Economy for the Cannes Pays de Lérins region and Deputy Mayor of Cannes, Pays de Lérins.  Mme. Brunetaux knows her stuff and was a great insightful speaker.  Originally planned to come for only 20 minutes, she stayed an hour speaking with all of the entrepreneurs, SBA Members and players of the entrepreneurial, innovation, and early stage investment ecosystem of the region.

Companies presenting at The StartUp Factory 17 September were: 


French Acoustics






International Venture Academy

SBA -SKEMA-BGTA "China -Europe Green Tech Corridor" International Venture Academy on 25 June attracts top international environmentalists as keynote speakers and innovative Green Tech entrepreneurs.  As the world focuses its eyes towards COP 26 in Glasgow, the Sophia Business Angels are proud to have organized its first "China-Europe Green Tech Corridor" International Venture Academy already in the summer of this year, together with SKEMA and the BGTA.  Such luminaries as Paul Polman, the chairman of the Social Venture, IMAGINE gave inspirational talks to the ten entrepreneurs participating from around the world with Interstellar Lab, Azuvia, Energy Dome, amongst the laureates.  Read more about this  traditional SBA IVA with an innovative twist and focused on saving our planet here,

GOMECANO interview

We at Sophia Business Angels are delighted to share the news about one of our investments, The first centralized service for home mechanics has announced its second round of financing of 2 million euros to accelerate development.  Here are the highlights from a press release that was issued by the company  last  week including quotes from its founders, Alexandre Nivesse and Mathias Boutsen Nivesse.  Congratulations to them and we look forward to great success in the future.


After a first round of funding of €420,000 in 2019, GOMECANO is launching a second round of funding of €2 million in Series A, backed by Rise Partners, Région Sud Investissement and private investors. This will enable to be deployed throughout France. A leader in its field on the French market, has been recognized by numerous companies; it is notably involved in the corporate fleets of La Poste and the Chamber of Trade and Crafts of the Northern Region, and works with prestigious partners such as the electric car brand Aiways. aims to continue its growth in 2021 and 2022 by expanding into new regions.  From 2022, the company plans to expand its services to other European countries.


Today, is the only national platform offering a centralized service of home mechanics. No matter where individuals are located, intervenes on demand to best meet their needs. offers complete and diverse services such as repairs, maintenance, breakdown diagnosis and tires.'s mission is to organize the work of independent mechanics and provides them with a web platform that manages their interventions for them. The platform allows mechanics to find customers, manage quotes, appointments, spare parts logistics and billing. The objectives of do not stop there, as the network also aims to support and train mechanics.


"This €2M round of financing will enable GOMECANO to deploy a simple and innovative online service that brings motorists and their mechanics closer together on a national and European level. will finally allow all motorists to have a well-maintained vehicle at a lower cost. The support of our partners Turenne Capital, Fonds Feder, Rise Partners and the Sud Invest region is a strong signal for the acceleration of our development. Alexandre Nivesse, co-founder and President of GOMECANO " simplifies and democratizes car mechanics. Our goal is to have all our interventions carried out by trusted, committed, dynamic, caring and educational Gomecano experts, who reconcile motorists with the maintenance of their vehicle." Mathias Boutsen Nivesse, co-founder and Managing Director of GOMECANO 


"GOMECANO is an innovative and dynamic company with enormous development potential. It is a serious candidate for the French Tech 120 and NEXT40. The strong support of the Southern Region and its new investors allows it to have the ambition to be a leader in the new French and European economy." Pierre Joubert, Managing Director of the South Region Investment


SBA Invest Dinner on October 15th at the fabulous Hotel Majestic in Cannes

What a joy to be able to finally have an SBA Invest meeting in person!  It really does make such a difference to be able to discuss with the entrepreneurs and each other in person and in a convivial setting!

Even though we had a hybrid session with some of our members and entrepreneurs zooming in for the meeting, we had a majority of our members and pitching entrepreneurs in person, and it was wonderful.

A Member's View

The advisors at Sophia Business Angels are a team of successful men and women who previously enjoyed careers as entrepreneurs or corporate executives and bring international expertise from diverse disciplines, industries and countries. We will be using this column to highlight a member to learn a bit more about them.

This month, please meet SBA members Audra Shallal and Marc Cetto.



Audra Shallal :

Q. Any advice for entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business?

A. For me, there is two things: 

1. The present is important, and what you are doing now. But you already have to think about the finishing line. What is your vision? Therefore, an investor asks you what your vision is at the very start, you need to be sure that you have the same vision for this company, and you want to go the same way. 

Also be sure about the reasons why you are starting this business. The investor will want to hear the passion! Did you find a sustainable gain for a pain? 

2. I always ask my students and entrepreneurs whether they do a sport, I ask this because the entrepreneurial world can get very busy. However, we need to make and take time for ourselves – time management is key. Personally, I do my sports as if it is work. I don’t ask myself whether I want to train today, I just do it! 


Q. If you were a teacher, what subject would you enjoy teaching the most? 

A. I actually do teach, I head entrepreneurship programmes. I consult for international organizations, such as the European Commission, OECD, where I help different stakeholders reinforce entrepreneurship in different countries and access to finance. During these consultancies, you have to be on the ground! When being on the ground, I get a much more in depth and accurate picture of what is needed. The teaching gives me a good link to this, as I stay up to date with trends and requests all the time.  


Q. What do you think about role models and how do you try to be a role model?

A. I believe that having role models that are ‘closer’ is important. For instance, what I love about the teaching is that you get a chance to inspire young people. I’ve had some entrepreneurs, even CTOs, where in six to eight hours of work, I could see a whole turnaround in their work. Some people said to me that I was expecting too much and that I can’t change a whole person, but – no – there is a way! I gave them the formula and they made an excellent equation out of it!


Q. What is your favorite way to spend the day (no work involved)?

 A. Three years ago, I started horseback riding and fencing. What I love about this, is that there is no age barrier, you can challenge yourself and have objectives – so when I make it my time, I like to train. For instance, I recently got qualified for the European Championship in Budapest for horseback jumping. Nature and animals give me a sense of peace – and on the fencing side, I get the physical aspect I need, as well as the adrenaline going. These are important aspects for my personal life, as well as my professional life. They keep my energy going and help me focus. 



Marc Cetto: 

Q.  What brought you to the Cote d’Azur and how long have you been here?

A. I actually arrived here as a kid and spent my childhood near Grasse. After my studies I worked 10 years in Villeneuve-Loubet. For the following 20 years I lived abroad and overseas, but always keeping our family basecamp in the area, for our vacation and some in-between jobs periods. When I decided to quit the corporate life two years ago, I naturally came back “home”.


Q. What is your favorite way to spend a day (no work involved)

A. A full day of serendipitous motorcycling in our “arrière-pays”, not bound by any particular destination or schedule.


Q. What do you look for when evaluating a company to invest in?
Three things :

A. The product or service and the founder/CEO. How do they fit to one another?

The technology and the founder/CTO. How intimate are they to one another.

Whether the executive founder(s) are all-in. ie : do they have any professional distraction, like a side gig, a plan B or any other professional responsibility not benefitting the company ?


Q. Any advice for entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business?
Three things :

A.  Your success will unfortunately almost always be proportional to how much you are willing to sacrifice of your non-professional life over the next 7 years.

The next most important success factor is the people you surround yourself with, and my experience is that hiring is by far the most difficult thing to do for a CEO/GM.

You don’t need to resemble somebody else, to "fit-in”, or to do things the way some people want you to do it. Try to always be yourself and true to yourself. “Nobody will beat you at being you.”


Q. Are there any specific industry sectors or product categories you prefer?

A. Electronic systems (semiconductors and real-time software), Mechatronics, Optronics and IA.

Fortune on Ladies who Launch

Fortune article on"Ladies who Launch" featuring our SBA President Candace Johnson:  Our entire business angel community was very honored to have our SBA President Candace Johnson be featured in the recent Fortune article on "Ladies who Launch".  Candace has spent her entire professional career in commercial space and comes from a family who did the first satellites for the USA and the first private commercial satellites for the world.  Candace has herself co-founded and architected SES Global, the world's largest satellite system amongst many other space and launch ventures.  Typically, almost all of Candace's space ventures received their first financing from angel investors!

We would like to stay connected with you!


Espaces Antipolis - 300 route des Crêtes 06560 VALBONNE SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS FR