Managing a fundraiser and a pregnancy at the same time did not exhaust Clarisse Hagegeco-founder of DFNS, a start-up that has developed a solution for securing cryptocurrencies in the cloud. The young woman, who is expecting a girl very soon, has just completed a seed round of 12.3 million euros with a dozen funds including White Star Capital, Coinbase, the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, Bpifrance and Xavier Niel.
“It was much easier than when I was pregnant with my first child. At the time, I was completing a pre-seed fund raising, ”recalls the leader who is in a relationship with her partner, Christopher Grilhault des Fontaines. This inveterate entrepreneur was not immersed in the deep end of bitcoin and ether. “He finally joined me in the project because he heard me speak crypto morning, noon and evening,” laughs Clarisse Hagège.
The great discovery
Before diving into the world of cryptocurrencies, the young woman spent ten years in investment banking, mainly at Crédit Agricole CIB. In the summer of 2019, she joined the French bank accelerator, Le Village by CA, to work in a blockchain start-up. She was notably in charge of the company’s ICO, a sort of fundraiser in cryptocurrencies.
“We pitched to institutional investors who had never bought crypto. They were interested but they were afraid because they didn’t know how to secure their investment since they had no internal tools or processes,” says Clarisse Hagège, who began to delve into cryptocurrency security technologies and notably crossed paths with Ouriel Ohayon, boss of ZenGo, an online crypto wallet.
Instead of also creating a wallet in the form of an application, she is thinking of an API, a kind of IT connector, which connects to different tools and software. She shared her project on a Medium article which was read by an executive from a large insurer, who then received it as a pitch.
“When you see Clarisse, you immediately want to work with her. She has the peaches, “says the leader who did not continue the discussions because “it was not the right time for us. But all institutional investors will need a solution like this the day they hold tokens [jetons, NDLR]. Three weeks after her meeting with the insurer, the young woman resigned to set up DFNS.
This young shoot is positioning itself in a sector that already has a few stars like Ledger (via its Ledger Vault enterprise solution) , the British Copper or the Israelis Fireblocks and Curv (bought by PayPal in 2021). Concretely, DFNS uses advanced cryptography technologies to generate the access code of the wallet in fragments. Instead of being stored in a device, the shards are distributed across multiple clouds around the world and persisted through a highly secure peer-to-peer network.
A rare business vision
To date, DFNS is compatible with 15 blockchains and 200 tokens. “We are committed to integrating a new blockchain in less than four weeks and a token in less than a day,” says Clarisse Hagège, who will later expand to NFTs and “security tokens” (financial assets on the blockchain).
To build this complex product, the manager has assembled a solid team. “Ella has surrounded herself with very good cryptographers, including Houda Ferradi, her head of cryptography, testifies an investor, and she has a strong commercial vision. She knows how to get institutional investors. This is no small thing in an industry where there are a lot of geeks. »
Clarisse Hagège is lobbying in other structures such as the MPC Alliance, which promotes a concept of cryptographic security, or even at Adan, the French Association for the Development of Digital Assets. “In fact, Clarisse is on all fronts”, sums up Faustine Fleuret, president of Adan. Among its next challenges: to open an office in the fall in New York and to recruit 25 people by the end of the year. Still not enough to exhaust him.
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Clarisse Hagège (DFNS), the rising star of crypto
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