Episode 39 - Sylvain Tillon- Tilkee, Failure, and Transparency
Episode 38 - Santiago Lefebvre - Building the ChangeNOW Summit from Scratch: Bringing Together Change-Makers from Around the World
Episode 34 - Laurin Hainy - Predictus: Bringing Loans to Emerging Markets
Episode 33 - Vincent Nallatamby - Tempow and Expansion to Asia
Episode 27 - François Véron - Newfund: Nearly a Decade of Adventures in Capital
Episode 24 - Sven Deichfuss - Paving the Way for European Startup Success in the States
Neuland Alliance was a result of a failed attempt to splash into the US market, like many other Europeans who thought it was easy
Moving your European business to the US is not as simple as just showing up
The US market is large and has great potential, but the risks also remain high
Raising funds in the US is not that much different than in Europe, though valuations in the US are much higher
It’s easy for a startup to become overwhelmed with the bureaucratic weight of launching in the US, it’s also a distraction from your business focus so you need experts
Neuland offers services that address human resources, accounting, and legal issues
The US model of HR, accounting and legal will be vastly different from Europe and finding EU-based resource experts has been problematic & very costly
Neuland Alliance is focused on making the US market more accessible to make market entry easier
Many European startups try unsuccessfully to launch in the US and end up with very expensive headaches, due to the high cost of making mistakes with the process of entering the market. Often, many of these expensive problems are bureaucratic, an area that falls far outside of the startups’ normal scope. The bureaucratic weight of setting up your European startup in the US often turns out to be a lot more work than ever imagined, because it’s something completely new and outside of the core focus of your startup.
When you are listening to your European legal or accounting or HR experts, that may conflict with what US experts in those fields, which then only adds to the confusion. Just as many American legal experts often fail to understand the legal consequences in Europe, European experts can be wrong about the US because it’s not their speciality.
After seeing many failures and frustrated startup founders arrive in the US only to turn around and go home a few months later, the team at Neuland Alliance wanted to address the biggest problems they saw - HR, legal and accounting - so that startups could do what they do best and leave the infrastructure work to experts who know the field and have extensive experience.
For any startup founders planning an expansion to the US market, this is a very helpful discussion. The US is of course a great place to be, with over 300 million people and customers who love new technology. The potential is there but there’s a lot more than just New York and Silicon Valley, despite what many still believe.
Where you open an office will depend upon your market sector and prospect base, and the kind of company you create will also depend on many factors. Making the wrong decisions can be a costly problem, and can also be incredibly demoralizing to the team. To learn more about Neuland Alliance and their services, you can find Sven on Twitter here or via the Neuland Alliance website here.
Episode 19 - Kurt Muehmel - Selling Dataiku
Kurt joined Dataiku in 2015 following a varied career, including a stint in consulting
Wanted to move into tech; started as sales for North America, based in Paris
Now manages EMEA team outside of France and the UK
Dataiku had cultural hiccups along the way, but quickly addressed them
The company’s founders, data scientists by training, built their team in a way that reflected how they wanted companies to treat them as clients
Successful without engaging in end of quarter/year discount pressure. New sales members trained not to follow the common discount schedule
Very customer-oriented, and focused on building value for clients
For Dataiku, raising funds is not the end game, but rather a necessary step along the way
To get a great sales job at a fast-moving, cool startup requires a traditional sales background with lots of experience in a particular sector, plus a massive Rolodex of contacts in that market-- Right? Not at Dataiku. American transplant Kurt Muehmel didn’t have that cookie-cutter background, and Dataiku’s founders considered him a better candidate for it.
For all of startups’ talk about an “outside the box” approach to problem-solving, the reality in many cases is very, very traditional and risk averse. Not so with the founders of Dataiku, who are more interested in building out a team with the right kind of culture. Kurt appreciated this, as he sought a tech startup job that would value his own non-traditional background.
The company’s founders have quite a unique attitude: forget about the rah-rah! bells and yelling in the office after a sale, or the high-pressure “always be closing” nonsense. The founders were once on the client side, and have insisted that their team treat prospects the way they would have liked to be treated.
The consistent theme is a focus on delivering value to customers and helping them to tackle their data issues. The traditional (and generally miserable) habit of ramping up pressure on both the sales team and prospects to offer end-of-quarter or end-of-year discounts is not part of the formula at Dataiku. The industry is used to it and many people in sales and purchasing have been trained to have this approach, despite the often negative effect of making everyone miserable and leaving money on the table.
Equally interesting is the Dataiku founders’ attitude toward their fundraising success. When people talked about having a party after closing their latest round, the founders of the company made it clear that while fundraising is an important and often critical part of success for many startups, it’s not the final objective. Building customer value is, and always should be, the goal.
There are a lot more great stories in this episode, which give you a glimpse into what it’s like to really work with an “out of the box” mentality. Just because some high-profile experts identify a way that things are “supposed to be done”, this doesn’t mean that there’s only one way. It’s refreshing to hear a startup steadfastly pursuing their own path and using a model that works for them and their customers, which is what being a startupper is all about.
Episode 18 - Florian Bercault - Estimating Equity
Developed an interest in new kinds of investments while in school
Started in crowdfunding world, saw a need to help identify new businesses for investment & startups needed help raising money
Estimeo is a platform that brings together investors and startups
Data is collected in six areas, then analyzed using machine learning and AI, which provides a score out of 100
Credibility is one of the major challenges today, so Estimeo continuously works on the algorithm and building the brand
Starting first in France but building a global platform to help change investor biases
The world of finance has not always been known as a bastion of modernity, but just as startups have disrupted other industries, the world of finance is seeing rapid change thanks to progressive startups such as Estimeo. Many fintech startups are located in London, but for many reasons, including Brexit and increased demand, France is seeing high growth in this sector.
Coming from the world of crowdfunding, co-founder Florian Bercault saw a need from both investors and startups for a better system. Private investors often struggled to have good data on potential startups, and startups who offered innovative ideas struggled to connect with the right investors. Estimeo saw the market need, zipped past the old-fashioned options, and instead created a modern, digital platform that could be used by startups and investors.
As Florian explains, the model of investing in France was behind other markets and this poor structure created many challenges for all parties involved. By collecting information based on six data points, Estimeo can score startups and help investors assess risk. Rather than choosing startups based on the school the founders attended, this model is based in data, so investors can evaluate startups on a more reasonable and fair basis.
Startups can also engage with Estimeo to get scored so they can see which parts of their business are strong and which areas need improvement. This puts startups in a better position for raising funds, while also providing investors with a holistic image of the startup.
It’s not an easy process, and Estimeo will continue to fine tune their model through data analysis, but this is a really interesting solution to the complicated process of fundraising. If you are building a startup, having at least a discussion with Estimeo is an important step to take. Florian and his team can explain more how they can help with your specific situation, but having more knowledge about your possibilities and options is always a good position to be in.
Episode 17 - Marion Chapsal and Ken Homer - Collaborative conversations to build the office we all want
Instead of blame, bring everyone to the table and involve all of the stakeholders
Men and women need to work together to rebuild the community and to create a different culture
Training should focus on identifying agents of change within organizations, then creating allies
Before starting to address gender inequality, it’s important to listen and understand the issues
Programs need to work on both the individual level as well as the collective
To start addressing gender equality, we need to ask everyone how they would like their environment to be
The startup world has not been immune to some of the negative revelations that have come from the #MeToo movement. Stories implicating startup founders, teams, and investors have abounded. The startup world likes to think of itself as a modern, forward-thinking group of people but as we’re seeing, that is not always the case.
Soon after the start of public discussion about the #MeToo movement, we invited Marion Chapsal of Ideas on Stage and Women on Stage to join us in the studio to speak about gender equality, or as we have today, inequality. As a woman and as a coach, she’s witnessed this for years, so the emergence of #MeToo came as no surprise. Marion believes that as bad as the stories have been, the moment highlights an important issue and gets it out in the open, so at least now everyone can talk about it.
Marion recently teamed up with Ken Homer of Collaborative Conversations while working with a particular client. The idea behind their co-training sessions is that in order to seriously address gender inequality in organizations, they had to include everyone in the discussions. Both genders need to listen and be heard. They wanted to start a dialogue rather than continue a blame game.
This episode is a bit different and it’s not about a startup, though it’s a subject that is important to address. We can all do better and we all need to figure out what we want our future to look like, whether we’re in big companies or small startups.
The #MeToo movement isn’t going away anytime soon and we believe this episode provides everyone with something to think about. If you’re a startup founder, do you want to be ahead of the curve and build a team that truly represents your market and is forward-thinking? Or do you want to be part of the old way of thinking that startups are supposedly disrupting?
Episode 16 - Ethan Pierse - Entrepreneur is not a dirty word
Founder of Borderless Ventures, partner in new Silicon Valley fund targeting deep tech
Engineering education, career started doing digital marketing & corporate training
Business activity between France, Southeast Asia and the US
Sees confluence of positive events in France coming together today
Being an entrepreneur is now cool, which helps build ecosystem
What is Ethan looking for with startups? Idea needs to be great but the team has to be great to build real value and full potential
Team is critical to success of startup!
New book coming out on corporate innovation - Chief Startup Officer
Why France is a hotbed for deep tech
Ethan Pierse spent years working in the US as a successful digital marketer before moving to France, where he initially did similar work until four years ago when he started helping French startups gain access to US investment capital as well as business development. This effort then led to working with Singapore and Hong Kong, where French expats make up a significant community.
Today, Ethan’s splits his time between Borderless Ventures, which helps startups, investors and corporates access opportunities between the US, France and Southeast Asia - as well as a new Silicon Valley venture fund that is investing in AI and Industry 4.0 deep tech. This new fund is based in the US but investing in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in Israel and Southeast Asia.
In this episode, we discussed why France and why now, and Ethan clearly explains the confluence of events over recent years that has positioned France as the place to be. The French government has been promoting entrepreneurship and improving the visibility of French startups outside of France. They’re pushing hard to drive this change and the results are starting to show.
One big change Ethan comments on is that younger students today really want to be entrepreneurs, which is a radical departure from years ago when so many wanted to work for big organizations or the government. Today, it’s cool to be an entrepreneur-- which, as he mentions, can cut both ways. Ultimately, it’s still a business and as fun as some of the perks of that business can be, they’re just that: perks.
Listen as Ethan explains in very clear terms what investors are looking for when they are considering a startup. We also discuss how startups interact with corporates, including the positives and the negatives on both sides. Yes it can work out well, but startups can easily waste valuable time and collapse if they chase the wrong corporate partnerships. If big corporates want to be part of the future, they urgently need to be serious about engaging with startups. For more on that subject, keep an eye out for Ethan’s new book, Chief Startup Officer, coming out soon. Our podcast discussion with Ethan wraps up as he discusses why France is well positioned for the Deep Tech wave of startups that will be disrupting organizations around the world in the coming years.
Ethan is very active on social media, putting out a ton of great content, so follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, He’s also a regular on BFM Business and once you start following him, you will quickly see why!