After launching the country’s first incubator and accelerator program three years ago, serialpreneur Fabrice Marquet has branched out with Monaco Foundry, partnering with startups for the long run. After only two months, the outfit already holds shares in 5 companies, including Span Health and Blackwatch Digital.
Walk around the Fontvieille business district with Fabrice Marquet and it will come as no surprise as to why Fortune 500 executives have jumped at the chance to team up with the Monegasque on his new venture, Monaco Foundry.
The former managing director of the government’s startup program, MonacoTech, can’t walk down the street without someone warmly extending a hand. His upright reputation has helped him to develop an impressive network locally, which includes ex-boss Jean Castellini, the minister of finance and economy, and MonacoTech partner, Xavier Niel, founder of Free mobile and No. 253 on Forbes Billionaires list.
“There is no such thing as launching a business on your own, it’s a collaborative effort,” Marquet says modestly.
The experience from his own three medtech startups certainly gave Marquet some insight on how to build MonacoTech from scratch in 2017, from overseeing the Zone F premises and creating the team to sourcing companies and defining a vision. “I’m a creator, not a man- ager, so when the program reached its cruising altitude, I knew I wasn’t the right person to be at the head.”
In January 2020, the 38-year-old launched Monaco Foundry with Brian Frederiksen, a Monaco resident and Fortune 500 executive who is considered one of the world’s leading change agents for Artificial Intelligence innovations disrupting healthcare and other industries. Frederiksen’s resumé includes stints as former chief strategy & operating officer of MERCK’s Healthcare Services & Solutions, and senior advisor on Artificial Intelligence and innovation to several European governments, including in Finland where he oversaw half a billion dollars worth of startups.
“Brian has more experience driving the business interna- tionally, with strong corporate connections in the U.S., Eu- rope and China, while my strength is mainly sourcing new companies and building partnerships with accelerators, incubators, institutions and VCs,” Marquet states, adding that their third partner, Yosef Ashkenazi based in Israel, brings a huge source of potential companies and connec- tions to one of the world’s most active startup scenes.
The former senior government advisors and Fortune 500 executives that make up Monaco Foundry fill a gap in today's market providing startups with experi- ence, know-how and a remarkable global network.
Marquet has assembled a “mastermind” team of six senior advisors, counting Daniel Naor, senior vice-president & general manager at PepsiCo where he rapidly grew a $1.5 billion business portfolio, and Rina Spence, who founded and served as CEO of a network of comprehensive medical facilities for women and serves as an advisor to the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School’s Project on Precision Medicine.
“Not only do we understand the corporate world without being corporate ourselves but we seek to find synergies across industries and plat- forms allowing our partners opportunities that they never imagined possible,” says Marquet.
Marquet is quick to point out that this isn’t an accelerator program. “We become shareholders and advise the company’s executive team, but they are the decision makers in control,” he explains.
“The beauty of this model is that we don't sell anything. We offer founders a hands-on bespoke business development approach—we can be advisors, drive business strategy and negotiate deals through commercial or research agreements.”
Located on avenue Albert II in Fontvieille (across the street from his old office), the company’s vision for Q1 2020 is to have eight to twelve com- panies as “long-term business associates.” In less than two months, they have already partnered with five “truly impressive companies”—including Span Health (UK) and Blackwatch Digital (Canada).
In developing their network, Monaco Foundry has landed several key partners, including Global Foundry for U.S. representation and soft landing of companies. A MOU was also signed with Hello Tomorrow, making them an official ecosystem partner of the deep tech association worldwide.
It’s quality over quantity and Marquet is adamant that the human factor plays largely in whom they chose to work with. “Early stage venture is particular and not a lot of people understand it. I have learned that I’m not good in convincing others so I want to invest my time in those who are willing to learn and grow and question themselves.
“Today everybody wants to be in a startup but they don't know what it takes to succeed. The CEO title on their business card is better than having a real job to go to.”
As a Ph.D. research student at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, Marquet admits he had “a very European education focused on engineering, and business was almost a dirty word.”
It wasn’t until he moved to the U.S. in 2009 as a research scientist at Columbia University that he unleashed his inner-entrepreneur. “I discovered a world where business is the second language and where people with no education were more business savvy than I was. I realized I was missing out on something.”
At Columbia, he had access to innumerous extracurricular courses and knowledge. “I was part of the Consulting Club, which is how I actually learned about business.”
For Marquet, entrepreneurial success isn’t just about money. “In the end, it’s building something and, for us, it’s about the huge societal impact of the companies we are working with.”
Article first published on March 17, 2020.