#13: Damien Courbon

Episode 13 - Damien Courbon - Swapcard:  Bringing efficiency & engagement to events

Key Points:

  • The event market was ripe for disruption & innovation

  • If you wait until you arrive at an event to organize, it’s already too late

  • Attendees seek more efficiency, so planning ahead makes more sense

  • Events are very expensive and there’s a lot of competition, so organizers need to show better metrics to win business

  • Swapcard sends team members to events to listen and learn, so they can improve

  • Seeking to build an international team, so hiring more foreigners

  • Focused on team happiness and engagement

  • Moving forward, exploring predictive analysis & more international expansion

f you have ever attended a trade show, you’re familiar with the challenges: You want to go to important sessions but it’s also a great time to meet in person with others in your business.  

If you’re a vendor, you spend countless weeks trying to figure out who will be there for networking, since your company has invested a significant amount of money to be there. If you’re an attendee, your company has sent you there at great cost as well. And if you’re an event organizer, you need to show metrics of success to keep and grow your user base.

Swapcard saw the inefficiencies of the market and built an app that brings more value for vendors, attendees, and organizers alike. You can plan your event in advance, including important networking meetings, without scrambling during the event to find people who you need to meet. Swapcard lets you plan and prepare for the event, including scheduling your meetings. The end result is a much more productive event and metrics that show the benefits of attending.

Damien and Swapcard are focused on satisfaction and improving the overall experience. To do this, they make sure their app is easy and quick to use so that their users actually use it! As obvious as that sounds, it’s astonishing how many businesses seem to forget about this.

In this episode, Damien explains how the company is growing, including hiring more people from abroad and expanding their market reach. The tricky balance moving forward is maintaining the company culture during this growth, so they’ve been focused on finding new team members who will be able to come in, work hard and keep the same team spirit.

Because Swapcard has plans to grow internationally, the culturally diverse team will be its strength for building into new markets as well as new ideas. This diversity is a positive trend we’re seeing increasingly these days in French startups, and we expect to see a lot more of it moving forward.


#11: Robin Lepercq

Episode 11 - Robin Lepercq - The evolving click-and-mortar model

Key take-away points

  • Created after leaving an IT services company, noticed the inefficiencies of the market

  • Freelancing was small compared to other countries but growing rapidly

  • Pivoted from a broad offering to a very narrow market

  • Strong focus on the market and focus on delivering high quality so very selective

  • Building a community for high end, technical freelancers

  • Opting for organic growth rather than raising funds

After working for years in IT services, Robin was let go. A situation like that is rarely welcomed or ideal when you’re raising a family, but thanks to the incredible French system, Robin was able to transition from this tough situation into launching a successful startup - FreelanceRepublik -  that has an abundance of assignments. Not a bad place to be for a young startup.

The idea came about after collaborating with businesses and seeing how the process worked with developing projects and applications. The traditional model was struggling due to high costs and very long cycles for hiring IT teams. He could see that the future was definitely in empowering top freelancers who wanted interesting jobs where they could learn and grow.

One of the great things about the French safety net is that the system provides a strong layer of support for people who lose their jobs. Robin used this structure to help get FreelanceRepublik off the ground. It provided him with the help he needed during that period so he could try one model, before pivoting to what exists today.

What he learned during this process was that having a razor-sharp focus helped the company offer the best possible service both to companies and to freelancers. By staying narrow, he got to know his market and his market got to know him. Robin makes sure that FreelanceRepublik keeps a strict quality standard, so he’s been able to easily find missions for talented freelance developers and project managers.

Moving forward, he wants to evolve to have more click and less mortar in his click-and-mortar startup, though there will always be a need for a least a little mortar in the business of high-end recruitment.