Clarisse Hagège (DFNS), the rising star in crypto, role models

Managing a fundraiser and a pregnancy at the same time was not exhausting 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 finished one 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 conducting a pre-seed fundraising, ”recalls the manager, who is in a relationship with his partner, Christopher Grilhault des Fontaines. This incarnated 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 startup. She was particularly responsible for the company’s ICO, a kind of fundraiser in cryptocurrencies.

“We turned to institutional investors who had never bought crypto. They were interested, but they were scared because they did not know how to secure their investment, as they had no internal tools or processes,” said Clarisse Hagège, who began diving into cryptocurrency security technologies and in particular crossed paths with Ouriel Ohayon, head of ZenGo, an online crypto-wallet.

Institutional blocking

Instead of also making a wallet in the form of an application, she thinks of an API, a kind of IT connector that connects to various tools and software. She shared her project on a Medium article, which was read by a director of a large insurance company, who then received it as a pitch.

“When you see Clarisse, you will immediately 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 have tokens [jetons, NDLR]. Three weeks after meeting with the insurance company, the young woman resigned to set up DFNS.

This young recorder positions itself in a sector that already has a few stars, such as Ledger (via its Ledger Vault business solution), the British Copper or the Israelis Fireblocks and Curv (acquired by PayPal in 2021). Specifically, DFNS uses advanced cryptographic technologies to generate the wallet password in fragments. Instead of being stored in one device, the chips are distributed across multiple clouds around the world and passed through a very 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 leader has assembled a solid team. “Ella has surrounded herself with very good cryptographers, including Houda Ferradi, her cryptography manager, testifies to an investor, and she has a strong commercial vision. She knows how to get institutional investors. This is not a small thing in an industry where there are many nerds. »

Clarisse Hagège lobbies in other structures such as the MPC Alliance, which promotes a concept of cryptographic security, or even in 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 before the end of the year. Still not enough to exhaust him.

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