when Filipino Soulères and Sheryline Thavisouk start inventing their idea of a plant-based egg substitute, The Papondu, are still students of the School of Industrial Biology. “In our curriculum, we had an introduction to entrepreneurship that encouraged us to develop innovations. We thought of this plant-based alternative to eggs, which would meet the needs of allergic or vegan people ”, explains Philippine Soulères, president of Papondu.
At the same time, the two students become part of the Pépite France student-entrepreneur network which allows them to attend seminars on corporate strategy or the development of a business model in their free time, often on weekends.
In the final year of school, spent at UTC on a double master’s degree in chemistry, they continue at this steady pace. “It was not easy. The project did not progress as quickly as expected because we were still in the training phase. Only at the end of 2019, after our studies, were we able to integrate the Founders program of Station F, thanks to the support of the Pépite network and the Ile-de-France region, and really build our entrepreneurial project. ”says the Filipino Soulères.
Support through student-entrepreneur status
The two young engineers, now 26 and 27, maintained this student-entrepreneur status until the official co-creation of their company in April 2020. “This status allowed us to always be accompanied by a professional and to be in contact with references from the business world ”, explains the entrepreneur.
But not to pay! The co-founders therefore relied on the help of their parents before becoming one suitable for RSA, to the creation of the company. They won’t start doing it you only get paid from mid-2022, they hope, after marketing their first product at the very beginning of this same year. Vegetable equivalent of a beaten egg, with the same nutritional values, it is composed of seven ingredients, water, oil, salt, a vegetable protein, a fiber, a natural flavoring and a dye extracted from vegetables.
The women’s guarantee of the Initiative France network
Product development is the result of a complex phase of research and development, particularly in understanding the chemical composition of the egg. “To support this development, we asked non-dilutive financing “, Shares Philippine Soulères.
Starting with a first crowdfunding campaign launched with the creation of the company. The co-founders have raised 20,000 euros with relatives and collaborators of a community who have formed around Papondu’s values: nature, animal ethics and eco-responsibility. They then obtained several honorary loans granted by the Initiative France network. To which are added over 100,000 euros of interest-free loan, which served as leverage for an additional bank loan of 10,000 euros.
“The banks were wary of the uncertainties of a project like ours, with a lot of research and development. What helped us is the impactful character of Papondu “, reports Philippine Soulères. And, above all, the fact of being two women at the initiative of the project… while the latter often encounter more obstacles in the entrepreneurial adventure.” We benefit, as creators, of the guarantee for women of the Réseau Initiative France, which covers guarantor of 80% of our bank loan in the event of bankruptcy company “, explains Philippine Soulères.
Finally, the latest contribution obtained at the beginning of 2022, a contribution from the French Tech grant of 30,000 euros. Papondu is now entering the marketing phase of its first product. To support this marketing phase and increase production, the start-up intends to resort to dilutive financing. “We are looking for investors worth one million euros. Station F is helping us to formalize this fundraiser which will be launched in 2022 ”, announces Philippine Soulères. The start-up expects a turnover of 500,000 euros in 2022.