BACK TO START-UP BREAKFAST #1 – YELLOAN AND TEMPOW’S ANTI-PITCH
From the left to the right : Florian Bercault (Estimeo), Vincent Nallatamby (Tempow), Michaël Diguet (Yelloan) et Alfredo Garcia (Finance Innovation
Today, the French innovation ecosystem is booming, startups are multiplying and investors are becoming more and more active. An entrepreneurial wind blows and carries with it many project leaders. But the startupper’s road is never easy, it is full of pitfalls but above all of big questions: how to conquer its market? How to seduce your first customers with a minimalist product? How to find your partners? How to convince his investors to finance future development? etc… Between pitch competitions and fundraising, the entrepreneur must constantly fight to succeed. Despite all these difficulties, the entrepreneurial experience is definitely attracting more and more people. This is the case with our two guests Michaël Diguet, co-founder of Yelloan and Vincent Nallatamby, co-founder of Tempow.
Far from the traditional storytelling, return to an anti-pitch session with Tempow and Yelloan for an expedition on the paths of entrepreneurship…
For this first edition of the Startup Breakfast co-organized by Finance Innovation and Estimeo, we had the opportunity to welcome Michaël, 36 years old, former R&D director at Dassault System but above all co-founder of Yelloan. Founded in 2015, Yelloan was awarded the Fintech Prize of the Year in 2016 by the Finance Innovation competitiveness cluster for its development of the participatory guarantee concept. A financial innovation that aims to make consumer credit accessible to as many people as possible, more specifically those who are excluded by traditional channels.
We were also pleased to welcome Vincent, 24, a recent graduate of ESSEC and co-founder of Tempow, a young high-tech company that is working on the Bluetooth protocol of our devices to redefine our audio experience. Connecting our speakers and headphones is Tempow’s first fight to democratize a high-quality audio experience.
The team at the heart of the entrepreneurial project….
Through the discussion, the team theme was predominant. From the very first questions on the decision to undertake or research projects, the team was identified as a key factor by our two participants.
The important thing for our two entrepreneurs is to choose their partners carefully for the long term. It is necessary to share a common vision that allows the project to be sustainable. Be careful also with the scale-up that goes with growth: building a strong team from the beginning is a good way to deal with it.
From team to project for Tempow
For Vincent, the team was the triggering factor, he found his partners even before he found his project. It is during an exchange year at the University of Berkeley that Vincent meets his associates. Together they make the decision to undertake, to innovate and therefore focus on brainstorming sessions to find their idea. It is through a « product – market fit » approach that they decide to tackle the way we use Bluetooth: innovate in the uses but also in the way the technology itself is conceived. It is from a simple observation, « today we cannot connect several Bluetooth speakers at the same time and between them » that the Tempow adventure began.
Michaël, too, insisted on the team throughout the life of the project, and more particularly on the importance of a common vision that allows us to remain united over the long term and maintain a healthy dynamic. It is with his father, who has a long experience in credit, and a friend that they develop their micro-credit solution.
While the team was a key factor in the creation of Tempow and Yelloan, its impact does not stop there. It quickly became a key element of the strategy of these two companies and became a long-term competitive advantage. These two startups have continued to apply a « very small team » approach to remain competitive and agile. From this perspective, recruitment is a major challenge. The adoption of a « top talent » recruitment strategy, combined with the « very small team » approach, allowed the two startups to focus on their core business: innovation!
Thus Yelloan has developed an artificial intelligence in the form of a chatbot dedicated to credit in order to automate and continue to facilitate access to credit. Tempow continues to work on our Bluetooth protocols: « Get out of the audio, stay in Bluetooth » to offer us new uses. For our two startups, the path is clear, building its development strategy around its advantages: continue to innovate to continue to develop.
Lean management for continuous and collective improvement
This vision of the human team at the heart of the business is also reflected in a different approach to management. To motivate its teams and share their vision, Michaël and Vincent have both adopted lean management techniques that aim to continuously improve teamwork, particularly through a horizontal hierarchy. Michaël also emphasizes the importance given to learning through the trial and error of his collaborators, leaving them the right to make mistakes. But, according to Vincent, some processes have their place and he has, for example, set up weekly face-to-face meetings with his team members. If the project is scale-up, so must the team!
The team is not only a development factor or operational concern but also a factor in access to financing. Every entrepreneur knows that investors base part of their decision to invest on the human factor. But, as Michael points out, investors do not stop at the founders. Many funds will also judge a project’s ability to attract the top talent mentioned above. According to Michaël, we must show the ability to attract motivated, talented and qualified people. This makes it possible to assess the evolution capacity of a project and can address concerns about the inevitable scale-up.
Being able to testify to the capacity of its project to evolve was also a very important factor for Tempow, which came into contact with investors at an early stage. Being able, month after month, to demonstrate the evolution of the project allowed Vincent to convince his investors.
Finding committed investors beyond financing
Tempow and Yelloan have taken different financing paths, but are learning similar lessons. Michaël stresses the importance of keeping the goal of fundraising in mind, having a plan of attack and using specific funds. He also advises to focus on the non-monetary benefits provided by investors, such as network, culture, and shared vision. It was by getting in touch with several investment funds, and eventually, by putting them in competition that he was able to obtain the best deal for his startup.
Vincent, on the other hand, went through private investors and an Anglo-Saxon financing choice, with « convertible bonds « w, allowing him to accelerate the raising process and focus on developing and marketing their solution. Always keep your objectives in mind is crucial, whether in terms of development, fundraising or support.
Today, Yelloan and Tempow continue to innovate and develop. Despite the differences in their projects, Vincent and Michaël asked themselves the same questions and built their company with the same concerns: a vision, a team, financing and a lot of innovation.
Theo Maes, Analyst at Estimeo