Ludovic Melly is a heart surgeon at CHU UCL Namur hospital. Nothing foretold that this young Swiss would one day end up in Belgium and become a business angel. Ludovic has been active in business angel circles for more than a year and a half now and encourages other young people to do like him.
How did you discover the business of being a business angel?
Completely by chance! After a videoconference during the lockdown! I myself work in a golfing startup in my free time, and I wanted to understand what happens behind the scenes of a fundraising round. So I looked into the world of investment. I used to imagine business angels as mystical characters… I didn’t really know what they did or how to become one. I had the feeling that only older, more experienced people could be business angels.
What made you take the plunge?
For someone with a scientific background like myself, training by BeAngels has made it more accessible. As a surgeon and researcher, I love being able to partner with business angels and to receive theoretical training, along with practical experience acquired empirically. I am curious by nature and I like understanding and knowing how things works more precisely! This is a very good way of motivating golden boys to join the network and of giving them the tools for investing.
Were there any training modules in particular that you preferred?
I especially liked the module on negotiating. It helped me go all out in negotiating with entrepreneurs on my first investments. The module on good governance was also very useful, as I was later fortunate enough to sit on some boards.
So it’s possible to be both a surgeon and a business angel?
Yes. I think it’s important to show that investing in startups is possible even if you don’t have a financial background. More young people - and why not more doctors? - should get into it! Medicine is becoming increasingly high-tech and it’s certainly worth keeping up with trends in the sector as an investor. It gives you another point of view.
Is it hard to find time to be a business angel?
Time is either stolen or given. Nobody has too much of it. Either you give of it, or you use it wisely. When I’m unable to attend a dealmaking meeting, I watch the video version. And nowadays many meetings are held remotely. So this is no obstacle.
Have you made an investment that you are especially proud of?
Yes, but, to tell you the truth, it was more the experience acquired throughout the due diligence phase than the investment strictly speaking, which we cannot fully assess until the exit. As we do after each Forum, our group (BAC) met to discuss the projects that had been presented. No group member wanted to invest in a percutaneous mitral valve project, as the project seemed incomprehensible. So I decided to go alone to the first dealmaking meeting of the company, Open Stent Solution, to see how solid the project and team were. I found the project of my colleague, a heart surgeon from Amiens, France, to be quite innovative, with a concept completely off the beaten path. After spending a lot of time explaining the project and its innovative aspect in layman’s terms to the other BAC members and other business angels, we passed the hat and raised more than one third of the targeted amount. Today, I am still active in the company as a board member.
Do you invest solely in Medech projects?
In any case, that’s the type of project in which I can add value! But I am part of an investment group that invests in other sectors, as each group member brings their own skillset to the table.