In 2016, we launched Sodexo Ventures, a 50-million euro strategic venture capital fund whose investments combine the agility and creativity of innovative start-ups with Sodexo’s investment capacity, expertise and international footprint in sectors as varied as Food-Tech, health and wellness, data, mobility and smart buildings.
By creating agile partnerships with start-ups, we will be able to observe and understand changes in our markets and in the world of innovation. It will also allow us to be in direct contact with an eco-system of entrepreneurs capable of developing technologies.
Through Sodexo Ventures we seek innovative ideas and products that will enhance our existing services and serve the Group’s vision: improving the Quality of Life of our consumers.
Sodexo Ventures has already made a series of investments in innovative, fast-growing companies such as:
- Wynd, a start-up who developed a modular SAAS solution that aims to connect the in-store (digital for store) and the out-of-store (web to store) world. It offers a full solution to manage on-site and off-site sales, a unified back-office to handle operations and CRM, and a solution to authorize and process on-site and off-site payment.
- LifeDojo, a startup based in San Francisco, California, which has developed a coaching platform delivering technology-driven employee health and engagement programs. This investment has led to a strategic partnership with Sodexo’s Benefits and Rewards Services activity, through its US subsidiary, Inspirus, and will allow Sodexo to enrich its offering of employee engagement solutions.
- Neo-Nomade, a platform developed by a Paris-based start-up enabling professionals to find workplaces according to their needs and location, giving them the possibility to “work out of the box”— wherever they want, whenever they want and with whomever they want. With this investment, Sodexo will also have the opportunity to offer a range of services to office spaces covered by the Neo-Nomade platform.
Sodexo Ventures will continue to invest in companies with high growth potential which add value to Sodexo’s activities, as well as its mission of improving the quality of life of the millions of people it serves worldwide. These investments will be combined with commercial agreements between Sodexo and each company to develop and commercialize innovative offers.
How do you find start-ups? What are the conditions of an investment?
Sodexo already works actively with external ecosystems and has put in place multiple strategic partnerships in open innovation. However, the Group’s investment strategy does not consist in investing in start-ups for the sole purpose of placing capital. Sodexo Ventures seeks ideas and products that will enhance our existing services and serve the Group’s vision: improving the Quality of Life of its consumers. We request our investment targets to enter into commercial agreements with an operating subsidiary of the Sodexo Group. Sodexo Ventures will primarily engage in series-A development—a company’s first significant round of venture capital financing - though remains flexible to consider seed and other fundraising rounds. We do not want to consolidate these investments and the very limited rights we seek reflect this.
In what areas do you plan to invest?
Sodexo Ventures is a strategic investment fund that will invest in areas as varied as food tech, smart buildings, health & wellness, digitization of rewards and benefits, data models & analytics, innovative retail experiences, and other innovative services related to the Quality of Life of the people we serve. The fund will invest in start-ups who support growth across all of the Group’s activities and serve the Group’s promise: bettering the Quality of Life of all those it services.
Do you think the culture of a large intentional group like Sodexo will match with start-up identity?
Yes, Sodexo has a very innovative company culture. It has its roots in entrepreneurship and has always operated with a start-up mentality and a constant ambition for growth. The Group will bring start-ups years of experience and maturity after having succeeded in many markets where start-ups hope to deploy their solutions.