Europe's Plain Joe Venture Capitalists

New funds are attracting lots of small investors

French entrepreneur Gilles Ridel is a firm believer in venture capital. After the March, 1999, sale of his Paris Web-design company, Avenda, to Jet Multimedia for $10.6 million--10 times Avenda's estimated worth eight months before--Ridel had the cash to become a venture capitalist himself. "People quickly knew what happened and contacted me," said Ridel. "I'm looking at investing in some of these companies."

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