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IGNITING THE SPARK with Martin Mignot, Index Ventures

David Farquharson

Martin is a partner at Index Ventures in London. Index Ventures backs the best and most ambitious entrepreneurs, making their ideas real and lasting. His main focus is on start-ups operating in large markets such as food, transportation, finance and health. He currently serves on the board of Deliveroo, BlaBla Car, Drivy, Rad, The Family and Trainline (following the acquisition of Capitain Train) and till very recently Swiftkey, which was acquired by Microsoft.

Since he joined Index team in 2010, Martin has spent time helping to build the Parisian start-up ecosystem through a local startup network, The Family where he sits on the advisory board. He has brought much “Frenchness” into the company as well as helping Index deepen its understanding of online marketplaces.

Martin has worked with many ambitious entrepreneurs throughout his career and he himself is co-founder of a beauty subscription business that was acquired by Joliebox/Birchbox.

Martin is always looking to connect with great entrepreneurs!

Martin Mignot
Martin Mignot

The moment that ignited the spark in me to first start a business and then move my career to work with Index Ventures…

I come from an entrepreneurial family. Plus, I always enjoyed finance, working with numbers, and keeping up with technology. Working at Index Ventures lets me combine these three interests.

The thing that’s most surprised me since I made that move is…

The pace of change. Businesses I met with a few years ago, no longer exist. New technologies shape societies and the market. For example, the recent development of Amazon Echo can change so much about the way we interact with our homes and our environment . The challenge as an investor is not to stand still. and have a clear mental picture of what the world will look like 5 years from now. It will most likely be wrong, but it’s essential to make investment decisions will such long-lasting effects.

If I was to give a piece of advice to an entrepreneur…

Focus strongly on your product and build it as quickly as possible. Make sure you get a few very passionate customers to give you detailed constructive feedback and listen to what they have to say. Don’t be precious about your idea if it does not reflect the reality of what customers want. It is important to focus on their needs, be open, observe how they behave, make them feel special. This a little bit like playing puzzles. Being good at business is like being good at puzzles - trying to fit the right piece, sometimes getting it wrong, but then finally finding the right one to fit in. You have to have an overarching thesis about the need you are addressing and how technology will make it easier, but also be flexible about the practical way the problem can get solved.

The toughest challenge I’ve faced since joining Index Ventures…

Managing time is the single most critical challenge. Capital is not as scarce as time these days - if I can have only fourty meetings per week, who will I spend them with? Which one are most likely to help my existing investments succeed, or find new companies with a world-changing potential? As the number of people attracted to startups increase, this daily struggle keeps intensifying.

My biggest success has been…

From a business perspective, Swiftkey, that was recently acquired by Microsoft and Capitain Train which was acquired by Trainline. I watched the teams fighting in the face of doubt and cynism and keeping at it with a clear, single-minded determination. They each went through tough moments and ended up creating such fantastic products and businesses. They took the risk and worked really hard to get to where they are. My success is only a proxy of their success.

If I could give my 18 years old self one piece of advice it would be…

I would tell myself to take more risk, not to be afraid and start a company straightaway at university…It’s easier to start young when there is very little to lose, and the cost of opportunity is low.

Outside of work I can be found…

Playing football and, at the weekend, most likely surfing in Portugal. I am in love with Lisbon!

My philosophy of life is…


What do you think about Ignition Law?

I like the pitch, law is still way too expensive for early stage companies - this is a space in dire need of disruption, and tech will play a big part there in the coming years.

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