A family-office dedicated to ambitious managers and high-potential projects
SmartHolding is a family office, managing the assets of founder Pierre-Edouard Stérin, a Frenchman with a global footprint and an appetite for investments. With a focus on strategic investments and exceptional returns, SmartHolding rests on the principles of risk-taking and ambition — both of which are in Pierre-Edouard’s DNA.
The firm invests primarily in European venture capital (via its dedicated Otium team) and in growth capital opportunities. Combined, the firm supports more than 25 companies, as minority or majority stakeholder, from less than €1m to more than €250m sales.
SmartHolding primarily caters to people/businesses with ambitious goals that have potential for great success. This belief has often led the firm off the beaten path, in support of extraordinary projects or exciting new businesses (as well as restructuring!). In addition to Pierre-Edouard’s adventurous entrepreneurial spirit, the diverse team is made up of professional investors who work closely with management teams to deliver long-term value creation.
Pierre-Edouard Stérin is the founder and chairman of SmartHolding, a family office that manages his assets.
After graduating from Paris-Sorbonne University and EMLYON Business School, Pierre-Edouard began his finance career in 1998 at Société Générale and Exane. After working there as a sales manager and analyst, he followed his entrepreneurial passion to launch his first venture: BlackOrange. The online software sales and video game company posted €3 million revenue in its first fiscal year before it was sold in 2001.
Next, he focused on a gift box concept that he discovered in Belgium. The adventure began in 2003 as a franchisee named Smartbox. After delivering very high growth during the first years of operations, Smartbox acquired his franchisor with the support of financial sponsors. Nowadays, Smartbox is the leading player in its industry, operating in 11 countries and posting business volumes of €500m. Setting his sights on other ventures, Pierre-Edouard handed over the leadership to a new operating team in 2013. He currently holds the title as chairman and majority shareholder.
Aside from his Smartbox venture, Pierre-Edouard invested in several startups, the most notable of which being LaFourchette, a restaurant-booking platform. He supported the company from 2009 to 2014, as it grew into a €15 million revenue company in France, Spain and Switzerland. LaFourchette was sold to TripAdvisor in 2014 for $150m and the transaction was unanimously acclaimed as one of the most successful cash exits that occurred in France by that time.
A tenacious entrepreneur and philanthropist, Pierre-Edouard has poured his ambition and optimism into every project to better support his charitable endeavours. Pierre-Edouard currently resides in Belgium, where he oversees Smartholding as an investment vehicle pursuing investment opportunities in line with his ambition.
Pierre-Edouard is also the CEO of Otium, a thesis-driven investment fund that focuses on early-stage venture and consumer startups.
Louis Villa is the Founder & CIO of Ananda Asset Management and acts as Senior Advisor for Smartholding since June 2018. Louis has spent the past fifteen years working in hedge funds in London, holding roles as Portfolio Manager at SAC and Moore Capital, running global equity investment portfolios with aum in excess of $500m.
Over the years Louis has invested in a broad range of assets, from early stage investments to real estate, including significant Investments in the US real estate subprime market, leading to the creation of a NY based investment fund. Louis has previously worked in M&A for Goldman Sachs (London) and for Bernard Arnault’s venture capital vehicule Europatweb (Paris). Louis graduated from HEC in Paris.
Mélodie de Pimodan joined SmartHolding in 2017 as Head of Direct Investments. She has spent the past eight years working in investment funds in France, holding roles as director at Capzanine and most recently director at Vendis Capital. Melodie has sound experience in LBO and mezzanine transactions with specific expertise in the food, consumer goods and health industries. Mélodie has previously worked in M&A for DC Advisory and Societe Generale (Paris and London) and in Leveraged Finance for Merrill Lynch. She graduated from Solvay Brussels School.
Charles Briand joined SmartHolding as principal in the Direct Investments team in 2017. Charles previously worked at Weinberg Capital Partners as an Associate on the LBO team. He started his career at Eight Advisory as an analyst within the transaction services department. Charles is a graduate of EMLYON business school.
Anne-Claire Colomb has been CFO of SmartHolding since 2017. Before joining Smartholding, Anne-Claire served as manager at PWC specializing in media and entertainment. She previously spent six years at audit giant BDO as manager, joining the company in 2011 as junior auditor. Anne-Claire holds a master’s from ESCE.
Founded in 2003, Smartbox is the world leading experience gift company. Smartbox conceives and distributes through retail stores and online a variety of experience gift vouchers: stays, gastronomy, wellness, adventure, restaurants, etc.
The group operates in 11 countries (with leadership position in 9) and posted FY2016 revenues of €500m with high profitability. As of April 2017, the Group had c.1,000 employees. The group has sold over 6.5 gift boxes to more than 20 million customers through different brands such as Smartbox, Buyagift, Dakotabox, Bongo, Emozione3 and La Vida es Bella.
Since 2013, the company is run by a team of seasoned professionals led by John Perkins, former Senior Director for Northern & Southern Europe at Apple. Pierre-Edouard serves as chairman and remains the majority shareholder of Smartbox.
With a dedicated investment team, SmartHolding brings capital solutions to a diverse range of projects, investing tickets from €2m to €20m. SmartHolding also seeks to expand beyond growth capital, with a keen eye on a variety of investments such as real estate or private placements.
Lastest transactions include:
Otium is a VC fund investing in early-stage startups (from €500,000 to €5M). Otium bases its investment thesis on the major technological and societal changes that are contributing to the emergence of the initiative-focused creative society. Otium invests both in tech startups (Otium Venture) and consumer startups (Otium Consumer). Since its inception, Otium has invested more than €60 million in 23 startups, including Payfit, Comet, Octoly, Doctrine, Feed, OhMyCream and Même Cosmetics.