How do you say "Entrepreneur" in French?
How do you say "Entrepreneur" in French?

Marie Ekeland, Co-fondatrice, Daphni


It is all about Marie !

Marie Ekeland, an partner at Elaia Partners, is currently a member of the board of directors of Criteo,, Seven Academy, Teads, Wyplay and Ykone.

She began her career in 1997 at the New York investment bank JP Morgan, where she participated in the development of a front-office worldwide application. She then moved to Paris, and managed a team to support that global application.

In 2000, Marie joined CPR Private Equity and has been acting as a Venture Capitalist since, first within the Credit Agricole Group, and since 2005 at Elaia Partners.

Since June 2012, Marie is also the co-founder and co-President of France Digitale, the joint association of start-ups and VCs for French digital entrepreneurship. She is also Member of the Conseil National du Numérique.

Marie has an engineering degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Dauphine, Paris, and holds a master’s degree in economics from the Paris School of Economics.

Today, it is the very last #LFTConf interview !

I would like to thank ALL the team of #LFTConf who made of the event [highlight]a wonderful success for all the FrenchTech community…and of course a very special MERCI & BRAVO to Gaël Duval…and…and…Lucie Allain ! You rock guys !!!

Frenchy will make a break over the summer and gives you « Rendez-vous » in September !

To end up this wonderful series, I wanted to reserve you a very special moment, full of HEART…

And to do so, what BEST THAN A WOMAN ??? And what if that woman would be a VC…and would call Marie Ekeland ?!


Among the entrepreneurs who told me about Marie, a few of them have got her sitting at their board, some of them have already received feedbacks and advises from her, most of them have already had the opportunity to pitch her but ALL of them have been unanimous:

The exchange they had with Marie was extremely positive and absolutely worth it…

How is that possible that Marie is that uncontrovercial in the ecosystem?


Obviously because she is the one who believed and invested in Criteo, the actual Flagship of the ecosystem and so in the most critical period of their journey…

Or because she founded with others the France Digitale association, a unique platform for all the Digital entrepreneurs / investors community

And they are all very grateful for that…

Especialy when it comes to explain to the French Government what a start-up is and why we need as a nation to value more and better the risk taking…


Objectively, those reasons would be good enough but I think there is an ultimate one :

From her Mathematics & Computer Science background, Marie knows better than anyone else that [highlight]making a good investment is about solving an equation[/highlight] combining the right product/solution, its potential market but even more importantly some human related factors like the personality of the CEO or the interest and the motivation of the whole team…That’s why :

Marie is absolutely passionate about her role as an investor and especially the human aspect of it !

And that, everyone can immediately feel it and this is I think precisely what makes Marie so special to all of them !

They are all about Marie ! 😉

La bienveillance est une arme…Loving kindness is a weapon !


There is another strong learning that we can pick up from Marie’s words, it is actually her favorite one :

« Decision »

Marie is actually telling us that :

Everything in life is about making a decision and even a non-decision is a decision !

Such a message is that powerful that on this basis, we can ALL change our life and even potentially the world…it just depends on the decision we make…

Marie, in her case, for instance, was not at ease in the French elite school system and decided to go a different path skipping the « classe Prepa » phase…

In the same range of ideas, few years later after a very first prestigious experience At JP Morgan bank, whereas she certainly had tempting and corfortable opportunities at IT departments in the Financial industry, she decided to give a complete different sort of orientation to her career starting as a VC

And even again very recently when she anounced her decision to leave Elaia Partners over the summer after 9 years…

We wish her ALL & JUST the very best for her future adventure !


But, over all of this, the very moment I do prefer in this interview is when :

Runing a VC business, sitting at Companies boards, advising CEOs, making tone of decisions a day and from time to time being even able to influence members of French Government in their reforming effort, Marie reminds us that one of her favourite moment is when she is making a birthday cake for her son, Nils !

She even shares the picture of it with us…

To me, this has no price and tells a lot about Marie !

So when Marie Ekeland is going through the #LFTC questionnaire for Frenchy, we thank her a thousand times and it looks like this !


Crédit photo : @francois / eventpixr

Frenchy : Your favorite word ?
Marie : « Apart from Happiness, it would be : Decision

I believe we are happier if we take our own decisions. There are no good or bad decisions, there are decisions taken in time. Not taking a decision is a decision in itself. »

Frenchy : What would you change if you had a magic wand ?
Marie : « Erase all prejudice… »

Frenchy : What is your favorite quote ?
Marie : « I have a dream… ».

Frenchy : What could seduce you immediately ?
Marie : « Sincerity »

Frenchy : What is, according to you, the secret of happiness ?
Marie : « Trust…the others AND yourself! »

Frenchy : If you were a dessert ?
Marie : « A homemade birthday cake.


My son Nils’ cake for his 4th anniversary 😉 »

Frenchy : What in your day to day life remains so French/American ?
Marie :

« French -> Being 10-15mn late at each meeting

American -> « Having an easy first contact »

Frenchy : What do you enjoy the most in the US/Fr way of life ?
Marie : « I enjoy knowing both. It allows me to choose my own way, trying to find the right balance between action and lifestyle. »

Frenchy : One thing where American/French people are particularly good at that you would like to develop yourself ?
Marie : 

« American: Being action & result-driven

French: Analysis depth »

Frenchy : In the US, failing is seen as the first step to be successful later, how to bring such a state of mind in France ?
Marie : « The day people in France will want to succeed instead of wanting not to do mistakes, they will accept the failure risk attached to potential success. »

Frenchy : What is it to be a French/American guy in the US/Fr? Could you tell us a specific anecdote that happened to you ?
Marie : « My first coffee break at Wall Street was a cultural shock: instead of discussing and reshaping the world while drinking our coffee together, my team & I took the elevator to the cafeteria, bought our coffees and went down to our desks to drink it separately. »

Frenchy : A French / European GAFA could be possible if…?
Marie : « It is possible! »

Frenchy : Who are the 3 entrepreneurs who most inspire you ?
Marie : « JB Rudelle & Maelle Gavet for being French pioneers,

Bill Gates for his philantropy. »

Frenchy : The 3 most promising French/US start-ups, top of your head ?
Marie : « Criteo (Still a lot to do!)


And one in the connected objects podium :

Parrot, Sigfox, Withings « 

Frenchy : According to you, what is the French touch ?
Marie : « A certain sense of elegance and the search for perfection. And f*** good music! »

Merci Marie !



More About Marie :

BFM Business Interview (Criteo IPO)

IT Interview

Décideurs TV Interview


About Elaïa Partners :

Elaia Partners was founded in 2002 as an independent private equity boutique focused on Digital Economy. Elaia Partners currently manages more than €125 million mainly through Elaia Ventures, a French FCPR fund backed by a diverse range of LPs – financial institutions, industrials and family offices– and through funds delegated by 123Venture, Neotec and Crédit Agricole Private Equity as well as through a seed investment fund, Elaia Alpha, raised in 2012 and dedicated to the investment in early stage companies in the digital economy. This €45m fund was subscribed particularly by the Fonds National d’Amorçage (FNA), managed by CDC, within the framework of Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir (PIA), the European Investment Fund (FSI), Pactinvest (SMABTP Group) and experimented entrepreneurs of the digital economy.

Elaïa is on Facebook and Twitter.


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