Started from the Bottom. Oussama Ammar, Partner at TheFamily

Hi everyone. So my name is Oussama Ammar. I will be your teacher for the next 12 lessons together. So be nice with me. I’m not so used to talking in English. It’s a big challenge. I will even make a confession. We had a plan to make me learn something by heart before doing it. I think the last time I learnt something by heart
I was 7 years old. And I got a 0 in school. Because I couldn’t even remember
the first sentence, and my teacher told me
I was retarded. So there is a lot behind that and… And so I tried. And I spent actually a week to try to learn something by heart
and it did not work. So I will do what I do every time. I will just speak my heart and I hope you will like it. So welcome to this class! This class is not a methodology… like there is something
that is good in English. You can find a lot of content online with a lot of methodology. You can find to-dos
about anything like… talking about Entrepreneurship
in English online: there is so much content,
content so good… that there is no point to do
everything that everybody else does. When we were doing videos in French
at TheFamily, we were trying to take
that from the US. And translate it in French. And not only translate it in the question of language barrier… but also translate it
in question of mindset. Here we are doing something
a little bit different. We are creating one of a kind content. We are creating a content in English that is here to give you a mindset,
a framework. Something you can always go back to so you can be comfortable
with everything else you find online. Like we want the ambition
and the ambition is quite high: It’s to give a European point of view about entrepreneurship. Not an American point of view
of entrepreneurship. I’m not saying that it is bad. It is just a question of context. And we are trying to build
our own context. You know you start by copying like that is how every artist starts. Like you know… when Proust was a little kid he was copying famous writer. When Michael Angelo was painting
at the beginning he was copying artist. Then there is a point in your life where you need to start
to write your own voice. And that is exactly what
we will try together. First lesson about something
very important. Something we are talking about from day one at TheFamily: Toxicity. Like when we started TheFamily,
TheFamily was 24 hours old and we wrote our first pitch deck. And by the way, it’s a very funny pitch deck
and nothing we wrote inside that pitch deck happened. So it’s like every single pitch deck
at the beginning. But there is something that stays
at the heart of TheFamily. It was the first slide. Why we’re doing that, why we are opening TheFamily. We are opening the family because France is toxic. And now I can say after traveling
in multiple countries around Europe, after launching Barcelona
and soon other countries actually the continent
of Europe is toxic. Like there is something so specific
about our environment and… and relationship
with entrepreneurship that makes it so hard to be an entrepreneur. And that is a toxicity. And the toxicity is in a lot of little small things. When we say that, a lot
of people complain. They say, “No that’s not true,
we have BPI.” Or “That’s not true, we have
Barcelona’s government grant. » Or ” That’s not true in Bulgaria there is a guy I know
that has a cousin who knows someone that
has a startup, so you see it works! » So of course when we tell people that something is toxic
they understand that something is impossible. When we say entrepreneurship environment
is toxic in Europe they understand it’s impossible
to be an entrepreneur. But that’s not the definition of toxic. Even in the worst toxic
life environment, life can happen. You have small bacteria that fight and they are very strong
and they survive. And there are a lot of things
that can happen and make it possible. So toxic means it just means that
it’s much harder to succeed as an entrepreneur
in France or in Europe in general
than it is anywhere else. And especially in Silicon Valley. And why is it toxic? Because it’s a thousand
of small things that we cannot define but
we all fell it. It’s so hard to manage
your paperworks and you don’t have professional
service provider that really understands
your specificity as an entrepreneur. You spend so much time explaining
to your employees why you are doing something, you spend so much time explaining
to your family what happens. There is so much pessimism
around us. Like I will tell you
that joke, one from an entrepreneur. Actually it’s not a joke.
It’s a sad story. One of our entrepreneur
did an interview in December. The journalist called: – « Hi, I want to write an article
about your company, SAVE, and I am little bit skeptical
about your numbers. I have the feeling you are lying. Because I heard multiple numbers and it doesn’t make sense. » So SAVE founder, Damien Morin,
said: « Look I will give you one simple number. I was doing 100,000 euros in January as a revenue. In December I did 100,000
in revenue, per day. That number talks to you? » And the guy replied
« – That’s impossible . You are lying. And it’s not good to lie you know. I’m a journalist I will investigate
and find out. » Damien stayed quiet and said: « Do you want that I send
my certified accounting? It will be available soon. » And the journalist started
to calm down and he was like: « But, you understand my confusion. I’ve been doing that job
for 25 years. And in 25 years I’ve never heard
a story like that. » That’s toxicity. Toxicity is about putting people
in the mindset where because something
never happened, if it happens it’s impossible. And that kind of thing,
when it happens and you’re already big, it’s fine. But when that kind of thing happens when you’re very small and no one is here to protect you, and no one is here to stand for you it can totally change the course
of your company. One very good example: SAVE at the beginning was so scared to open so many shops,
so fast. Because each time they met someone everyone was telling them
«What?! You’re opening 10 shops? You should slow down! It always goes wrong when you do that so quickly. » And when he was coming
at TheFamily the only thing
we were telling him was: “What? Only 10 shop? But what are you doing? Are you sleeping?” And he told us that he lived in a kind of schizophrenia for 6 months, asking himself: “Are they right outside or are these guys just totally crazy and I’m just with a bunch of dudes
that are crazy, and I will kill myself?” And at one point he told us that he did what he called
a leap of faith. He decided to just say
“Okay, it’s possible. And I will believe in it
and I will do it. » And I think here most of you know the story of this company
that raised 15 million euros in September after 9 month of activity. And it’s one of the fastest growing company in Europe right now. They are creating 1500 jobs this year. And this is why I feel so comfortable to say to people outside when they say that
“you should not make entrepreneurs dream because that is dangerous.” I can just say:
fuck off. You know what?
We have 20 companies in our portfolio
that are valued at more than 10 million dollars on their last round
after a year and a half. 20 companies. It’s not only SAVE,
it’s not like we had luck just once. Our methodology proves that if you are very very ambitious you can die fast or get big. And that’s how you go
against this toxicity. So the toxicity can be fought only
if you accept the idea that you can get stronger. That to survive to that toxicity you need to shape yourself,
and to get a good image of that: it’s exactly like doing sport. Like if you muscle yourself,
you will run faster. You will swim faster. And we are talking about
mindset muscles. We are talking about changing
your perspective so much that you will be able
to be sure that whatever people tell you outside you will be fine to analyse it and take it in your ambition filter and be sure if you keep it
or not. And be aware of something. I’m not talking about all these startup frenzy mania. Like it became so common
to be an entrepreneur and I think we have a huge responsibility
in that. And we are fine with that. Like I think we never had
so many bad entrepreneurs trying to be entrepreneurs, ever. And that is the best news. You know why? Because it is important to increase the volume to increase
the quality. This idea that because so many people try, the quality of entrepreneurs
get confused, and people don’t see that
they are exceptional is totally wrong. The more people are doing something, and the more the quality
of the things will increase. And that’s why we think that anyone can be an entrepreneur. But disclaimer, it doesn’t mean that everyone will become an entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean that everyone will succeed. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy. One of the first complain we get when we talk
about that in Europe: people come and say « -You cannot say that. It’s not easy. » Of course, who says that it’s easy. But a good story is a story that puts hope in the heart of people. Like we want to listen about every struggle,
everything that goes wrong every single thing that makes
the life of people horrible. No one wants to listen about that. And it’s fine. Because you need hope, you need to be like: it’s like a warming environment. Let’s say you have a child. Maybe people here are parents. Will you go and tell your kids
on day one that life is horrible,
that you will need to struggle, that you will need to fight to survive, and that there is no job out there? Like imagine, like …
I know some parents are doing that. You know, when I was in school I remember I was 7 years old
and someone, the teacher, asked people: “what do you want to do?” So at that time I had a very
very big dream. I wanted to be a clown
in a circus so… I can’t realize it. And one of the kid was like: “I want to have a job”
and yeah, “but which job?” “Any job because unemployment rate
is so high that it’ll be such a luck
to have a job.” I was like thinking
in my head “Dude, your life seems so miserable.” Like how 7 years old
can think like that. Like why would a 7-year-old
know about unemployment rates? It doesn’t make sense. And it’s exactly the same thing
with entrepreneurs. If on day one,
you were like: “Okay, I’m doing a startup but it will be hard, so hard that I will fail.” Like of course, you would fail. Because you need a little bit
of impossible you need a little bit
of luck you need a little bit of “everything
is going right”. And that doesn’t come
with pessimism. So pay attention to this hype, and especially pay attention
to a second level of hype: it’s the media. Like I read TechCrunch everyday. And one of thing I learned
with TheFamily, it’s to see what is fake and what is true
in TechCrunch. For example, a friend of mine looked at 1000 acquisition
articles in Tech Crunch. And look at which percentage of these acquisitions
were real acquisitions. And not just marketing
acquisition like “Yeah I sold that company
for 1 dollar. But don’t tell that anyone, say that I sold the company
because I am serial entrepreneur.” So the media are not here
to tell you the truth. The media are here to tell you
the story. And some stories are true, some stories are fake. And that’s fine. And because it’s the job of good entrepreneurs to tell good stories even when things are horrible. Like again, do you think anyone
will get any credibility by going to the media,
saying: “Yeah, my company sucks. We don’t know
how to make money, we don’t know
if we will ever make money but please invest.” People will be like
so un-compelled with that. They will be like
“Okay that is the worst entrepreneur ever.” And they will be right. Because your job is to come and tell the story of
what is good. And the problem is that you,
as a reader, have no clue of what is right
and what is wrong. So what happens? There are so many confusions
about The United States because of that. One of the good example is that we have so many entrepreneurs
that come and say “I have this incredible idea.
I did a business plan and I want to raise
5 million dollars.” “You know it is a little bit hard
to raise money especially 5 million dollars.” “What? But that guy
did raise 10 million dollars. And so I will live to The United States
where they will believe in my idea.” Yeah, yeah, good luck dude. Like I think The United States
is one of the hardest place in the world to fundraise, because everyone is trying to fundraise. Like maybe here in Paris, you have 3000 companies a year
that are created, 1000 are serious, 200 will fundraise, 100 of them are at TheFamily
by the way. So yeah, competition is hard, but it’s a small competition. If you go to The Silicon Valley, there will be maybe something
like 100,000 people that are creating startups:
50,000 of them are serious, 10,000 of them will fundraise, 5000 of them will fundraise again, 3000 of them will fundraise again, and at the end you will have
one Facebook. So don’t think that
it will be easier. It will just be a different game. And that is the confusion people do
all the time. No, like one of the most annoying
question I get is: “Is it easier to launch a company
in the United States?” Yeah, no, I don’t know.
Like define easier. Because it doesn’t make sense. It’s the kind of questions
that journalists love to ask. Because it’s a stupid question. And it doesn’t bring any value
to anyone. But people can talk
endlessly on that. Because you can have
a debate for 20 years. Like you can see
2 people in the room, lock the key out
and let them talk. Come back 20 years later
and they will not have defined which place is the best
to launch a company. Like, this kind of debate, you should,
as an entrepreneur never get in. Also I’m not saying that you should
not read that content. There are so many blog posts, there are so many TechCrunch articles, there is so many content
out there that is incredible! We are in a very special industry. We are in the industry
where the best people on earth take time to go online, and explain what
there is on their minds. Like let’s say you want to become
an expert in the oil industry. Do you know the best blog
about the oil industry in the world? There is none.
There is no blog. Like you cannot go online and say: “Yes, the CEO of Total made that statement in his blog and I disagree with his low margin strategy”
and you will be like “What?” But in the tech industry
every top mind spends so much time online
just telling what they are doing. And it’s a bit weird. Like it happened by accident. I think it’s a culture of
“pay it forward.” I think a lot maybe
because of the hippie spirit that is there,
in the tech industry. There is this sharing principle. And there is this very very
lack of respect for secrecy. Like for example: we are the only industry where you can know
which companies are fundraising, at what valuation
and with who. Like, if you come from finance, you are just shocked by that. You are like
“Are you morons? Are you really telling everyone how much money
you have on the bank account? And how much you are spending?” But yeah … because that is the culture
of this industry. So, take advantage of that. But be careful. Learn to put a filter. Learn to read things. One of the good example that I love, I am especially a very big fan
of Paul Graham and YC. Like I think what the Y Combinator
is doing in the world is like, if one day we can reach the level
of Y Combinator, we will be really happy and really satisfied
about what we achieved. But I watch all their videos and there is one video
that made me laugh for one hour. Because it’s one video
about fundraising and in this video,
one of the YC partners, I don’t remember which one, said:
“In seed you should not raise below 5 million dollars in valuation.” And I laugh so much
because the last time I saw a company raise
that amount of money in Europe was in 2000,
during the Bubble. Like even when it was in a crazy time
with the bubble, no one in Europe was ready to pay
so much for evaluation in seed. And what people should read, and what people should listen to
in that sentence is that In Silicon Valley you should
not raise in seed at less than 5 million valuation. But of course it is so obvious that he is talking
about the Silicon Valley that he is not saying that. But why it made me laugh so much? Because during 6 month,
I managed entrepreneurs at TheFamily, explaining to them, one by one,
why they couldn’t raise at a 5 million valuation. So a lot of them would tell
sentences like: “Yea, we will go to The United States
to fundraise.” Good luck dude. Really good luck. Like going to some place
where they have no connection, knowing no one
and just arriving and saying:
“I want to raise in same condition than local people.” It’s like being an immigrant. Like you don’t start
on the same scale than everyone else. So being an immigrant
entrepreneur is not – it’s better of course – but also you face the same kind
of challenges than a lot of other immigrants. So background filter
is very important. And one of the thing that you should consider at some point is that if all of that is so appealing
to you, if all of that
is so beautiful if you dream so much about going
to The Silicon Valley, just book a fucking plane ticket and stop talking about it. Like I think … You know
there is a new company, that is launching,
I don’t remember the name, it’s a company from Iceland,
they have launched Paris-San Francisco
for less than 200 dollars. And it’s a real plane. Really, some authority
somewhere should check that. Tell me
and after I will try it. And so even if you travel
on AirFrance you can find plane tickets for 400 euros,
500 pounds in London. I don’t know from Barcelona
or other places in Europe but I’m sure it’s easy
to go to The Silicon Valley. And it’s really easy to spend
3 months there and see if you want to live there
or not. And I know
there is a lot of challenges like the visa, the money
and all of that. But if it’s really your dream
nothing should stop you. Like it’s better to go wrong with a dream,
to live it badly, than spending your life
with what-if questions. But if you choose to stay,
if, because you like Europe, you like the food, you like the people,
you have your boyfriend girlfriend, whatever,
there are thousands of reasons. For example, I came back for girls.
It’s very public thing. I was really not into the American dating game,
like it’s an horrible one. So, I decided to come back,
there is no good reason to come back like there are thousands of reasons
to be there and there are thousands of good reasons
to be here. But at the moment you decide
to be here, you have to decide about a lot of things
in your mind, and one of the thing is that you have to accept
the local games. If you are in Europe,
you need to play European to succeed. You cannot play American. Like you know that movie
“an American in Paris” Americans in Paris look weird. Like that’s the way they are. And if you try to play American, a fake American in Paris,
you will look weird. Like you need to accept some things, various things that are really
hard to change and various things that you just need
to deal with. And that is the kind of thing I want to dig with you today. and I want to see with you. So one of the thing is that the toxicity is not obvious. It’s not like, it’s not the kind
of a list you can find online and you can’t prevent yourself
by just listing every reason against Toxicity
and telling yourself “I will do that to avoid Toxicity.” Toxicity is invisible
and it’s much more in the things we don’t talk about
that in the things we talk about. We all complain in Europe
about the level of bureaucracy. And I think that’s one of
the easiest toxicity to overcome. Why? Because we are all talking about it. Like when it becomes a public debate, when it’s something in the air, it’s so easy to fight against it. Because it’s in the air, it’s here, people are talking about it, we are fighting, we make victory. Sometimes we lose some battles, but on the grand scheme of things, things are getting better
and better every year. And also, when we talk a lot
about something, it can become a start up. For example, it’s horrible
to manage pay roll in Europe we have a company in our portfolio
called PayFit. We will solve that problem in Europe
in the next 3 years. So in 3 years that will not
be a debate anymore. So that kind of toxicity
is a visible toxicity. So toxicity we feel
and it’s obvious. That toxicity is fine. Like I know that is the kind of toxicity
that really worry people and they are like:
“Should I start my company? I don’t understand anything
about accounting” and you are like: “Yeah, there are accountants so… Do you think Mark Zuckerberg
is doing the accounting of Facebook, seriously?” Imagine that, Mark Zuckerberg
would come to a meeting and say “Oh yeah, we cannot work
on the newsfeed today, I have accounting day.” People would be like:
“That guy is weird.” So that’s not the kind of problem. The problem is everything
that we don’t see. And one of the thing we don’t see is our relationship to time. We have a very very specific
relationship to time in Europe. First we like to take our time, and that’s something we share
as an invisible bound in every single country of Europe
including Germany. I know Germans are very good
at marketing and they make people think
that they are very very efficient. But actually they like to take their time
in American standards. The most efficient people on the earth
are Americans in the sense that even
if they are not productive: that’s not the question. They give the feeling they are. They give the feeling that everyone, everything is on track. That everything will follow up,
steps after steps and that everything will be great. And you know it’s awesome! Like there is this feeling
that everything is managed in timesheet
to make people feel like everything is on line. In Europe we have this kind
of more relaxing management of time. We like long lunch,
we like to spend time with people, we love debates.
Like we love that. You don’t imagine one of
the hardest thing with companies at TheFamily
is to teach them to avoid debate. Like at TheFamily each time
we have a debate in our team it’s because we don’t know
what we are doing. Debates are the sign that something is going wrong with your startup. It works 100% of the time. The problem is that people
love that. People build companies
and start to become entrepreneurs because they want to brainstorm. They want to do meetings,
they want to exchange ideas. They want to build confidence
in themselves, thinking that something powerful will come out
of their minds. All the persons succeeding in entrepreneurship
are people that never think. This is why, by the way there are so many stupid entrepreneurs
that succeed. Because they don’t have
this kind of constraints, they cannot really debate
because… you know what I mean. So they just do things
and after people are like: “Why this moron is succeeding?” That moron is succeeding
because he is acting fast. That moron is succeeding because
he prefers to do a lot of mistakes very fast instead of spending
all day long debating. I will give you a very cool example: I will show you why we need, in Europe,
to change our time management mindset. It’s called the AB test. Let’s say you have a debate in your team that can go down to an A
or B situation. Let’s say you think
that your business model should be subscription-based. And you have founder A
who is a subscription fan. And let’s you have a B fan. And the B guy is very very
into a transaction model. He doesn’t believe in subscription. And let’s say both founders
will spend a week debating on that issue. What will be the outcome of that? Best case scenario,
one of them will be hurt. That’s the best outcome
you can take from that. Why? Because no one likes to lose a fight. No one.
And that’s true in every single moment of life. And you can tell yourself
that you are fine, you took a decision, blah, blah, blah… But in your mind you will
always live with: ‘What-if’. And ‘What-if’ questions are toxic. Like if at a single moment
in your mind you are in a situation like:
“Oh, what if I did that?” or “What if we did that?”
or, Blah, blah, blah, You will make everything go worse. And the worst case scenario is that after a week you will not have taken
any decision. It will take a week more. And a week more and a week more
and a week more… For example, we have a company
in TheFamily that I realized, needed
to change their name because of copyright infringement,
like they chose a name and someone had a trademark and because they started to be big, they needed to change their name. And so we had a meeting
about changing their name. We brainstormed 5 minutes
and I told them “Yeah, yeah, go change your name, that is a good thing.
Better than a lawsuit.” And yesterday I receive an email,
9 months later. And I realized they did not change
their name. Of course I did not notice
because for me the decision was taken. And I called them and I was like:
“What’s wrong?” “Yeah, A liked that name and B liked that name
but our shareholders preferred that name, and my parents are more comfortable
with this name and a random guy I met in the street told me
that name was not good.” I’m like:
“Are you fucking kidding me? Are you spending so much energy
on things nobody cares about but only you?” And why? Because that’s so common that people will end up investing little more and little more. Of course during the first meeting,
they will never tell themselves: Let’s spend nine months thinking
about the name. No one planned for indecision. No one is like “lets take two years
without any action and it will go well for us.” But that’s where you end up investing weeks after weeks. So upside is not so great, downside is really wrong. Now let’s take the opposite
management time. Let’s say you have to take
that AB decision. And you have two cases. One case, you have enough users. So what you can do,
you can AB test. It’s very simple. Instead of debating a week,
let’s just try and see who will win. And victory after victory
you will learn things. And it will be much better. Much better than debating. And other case,
you don’t have enough users. And that’s very common
with early stage startups. So what you should do? You should just take
a random decision. You know what?
Flip a coin. You know
how to take a random decision? Just flip a coin. Really I’m serious. It’s much better to flip a coin and take a collective decision
that is taken by the mystery of the universe than by anyone in the team. Because you know what? let’s say you are wrong. You will feel it very fast. Let’s say it’s not the right choice. You will feel it very fast. Why? Because flipping a coin
put you in a situation where you have to adopt a mindset,
adopt an attitude you did not spend time thinking. You spend time doing. And when you spend time doing
instead of thinking, things go much faster. And even if you are wrong. Let’s say you are the most
unlucky guy on earth. It’s time you flip the coin,
it’s the wrong side. It will be much better
than the debate side. It will be much better than talking. It will be much better than being
in the situation where you spend your time
talking together. So one of the lesson of that is that if you want to prevent yourself
from losing your time just be fucking radical. Be like, so radical in everything that you will never settle for less. You will always push up and this push up attitude is very
very important in entrepreneurship. But pay attention to that. One of the biggest confusion
that people do with this ambition thing is
that they say things like – “Yea, I’m very very ambitious.” I don’t know why I take
a Donald Trump voice. “I’m very very ambitious and I will build a billion dollar
project on day one because that’s the kind of guy I am.” That’s not being ambitious. That’s being stupid. Because if your ambition implies
that someone else does something for you, you are dreaming. Ambitious means – “Okay, what can I do today with my means
that will be at the highest scale of ambition?” And that can be very very low
at the beginning. Like you know, one of the very ambitious thing
we did at TheFamily? It was to never refuse a meeting. That’s very low on the scale of ambition. Anyone wanted to talk to us, yeah please! The rule was, until we get
to 24-hour full schedule we should never say no to anyone. And we did pretty horrible meetings. A lot. I still have stigma of fear
from these meetings. But that’s fine because that is
how you build ambition. Because at some point, you reach a point where you saw enough good people
that they will talk to other good people. And then we can start to say no
to some meetings. And you feel much better
and you push up your ambition. Exactly same thing. Like ambition doesn’t mean
unrealistic steps. Ambition means that you are doing
things everyday that are better than the day before. So it can start very small. But you need to never get down
with your ambition. One of the very good way in Europe
we get down our ambition: It’s what I call the B2B trap. So how it works: you have a company
and you are young, you don’t listen to anyone. So what do you do? You start by being,
you start by wanting to be the next Google. “Hi, my name is Peter
and I want to build a very big disruption. I want to build the next Google for dogs.” You start by wanting
to be the next Google. “Hi, my name is Peter and I want to build a very big disruption. I want to build the next Google for dogs.” “Okay Peter, that is ambitious.
What exactly is Google for dogs?” Okay not important. Six months later. “Hi, I’m Peter and because
we want to build a Google for dog we decided that we can start
by bringing the Yahoo! for dog. And if it is going well,
we’ll become the Google for dog.” Six months later. “So yeah it was Google for dog… We realized there was a much bigger opportunity in B2B and so instead of having clients, we will find company that will be ready
to pay for the final client. So we are B2B2C.” Six months later. “So yea we are a dog web agency. And we do websites for your dog,
look we can do it so customized, if you pay me a meal like yeah,
I will do anything for a meal. I did not eat for six months
so I’m desperate.” That’s the European ambition track. Why? Because at no moment you will stop and say
“Okay, google for dogs was stupid. Let’s do something else.” Because you don’t want to tell anyone
that you failed. Because you don’t want to tell yourself
that you failed. So what do you do? You just make it possible
at whatever cost. And to make something that doesn’t work
possible at whatever cost, the only way to do that is to lower,
lower and lower your expectations. And doing that, you end up
doing nothing. Because that is not the way
to be ambitious. One of the way to be ambitious can be… “Okay, I’m alone and I will do the best services
for the 10 dogs around me that I know in my neighborhood. And if I can build a monopoly
for that ten dogs, I will go build monopoly for the dogs
of my neighborhood. And when they will have
on my social network, every single guy, every single dog
in the neighborhood I will go across the city
and when I move across the city I will go across the country.” That’s pushing up ambition. It’s very ambitious on day one. Being a monopoly
on your dog neighborhood is already hard. And if you achieve that, it’s big. But let’s say you don’t achieve it. You can go on the cats or the birds
or whatever. You got the point? I am not very into animal,
you get it? So one of the thing
that makes people really living in the invisible
toxic environment is that this ambition and waste
of time also come with a structural situation where
you are not helped by the ecosystem. Let me explain because it doesn’t
mean anything. I really saying it, structural… So you need to know the difference
between fake and real work. You need to cross a line
and tell yourself everything you do,
is it fake work or real work? Let me give you an example. Getting a grant from public money, fake or real work? So getting a public grant
is fake work. You know why? Because if you don’t have clients, if you don’t have revenue,
if you did not prove your business model you can’t get any grant you want. It will never help you to reach to a point
of reality around your business. Taking grant before being sure
about that kind of thing, puts you in a situation where you have money
and nothing else. And that is exactly like taking a drug. And feeling very powerful. “Yea, I got 100k!
It will help me to achieve my goal.” But you don’t know what your goals are. “Yea, I got 100k!
That will help me build my business model.” But you don’t have any idea
which business model. So that will put you in a situation
of comfort with yourself. That will put you in a situation
where you will feel good. And each time you feel good
about that kind of things you will go, little by little,
to the dead zone. Step after step, because
in entrepreneurship feeling good, it’s really a bad thing. You should feel really bad,
you should be like – Why I would go to take public money
if I don’t know what I’m doing? If you are big company
and you are working on an R&D project and there is a tax grant to take: Take it. Because it makes sense,
you know what you are doing. They suppose that you know
what you are making. That’s true. But you know, so when
you are an entrepreneur you need to be aware that things
that can look like work but are not work. Let’s take another example. Going to a pitching competition. Do you think that all this pitching
competition brings anything? No. Not at all. They are good
if you’re launching a project. They are good if you need marketing
at a very specific moment. But you end up with people
that are pitching all year long in every single conference
and they don’t have a company, they have a pitch working session. Like they spend so much time
going to conferences. Do you think professional conferences
helped anyone? I don’t know a single person
that went to a conference without a specific goal in mind
and get something from that. Now there is this web summit scam. You know when you receive
an email telling you: « We selected you for The Web Summit, for less than 2000 euros
I give you 3 tickets because you are exceptional. » And we receive so many emails
from entrepreneurs. “Yeah, we have been selected by
The Web Summit.” Guy, it’s a random algorithm. They put in a spreadsheet
with random selections, send 10,000 emails
and 1,000 people will reply. It’s exactly the same principle
than Nigerian scams. Nigerian scam – Professional Conferences:
same job. And you know what?
The Web Summit team is incredible. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad conference. It’s one of the best conference
out there. The problem is that the people
that believe that kind of story. You are the problem. Not the people organizing that event. Let’s say someone tells you: Look we send 10,000 random emails
to entrepreneurs give them one meter square,
and we can do 2,000 euros, you would be like:
“Yeah, let’s do that.” Of course! Because it’s a good business. But the problem is
on the other side because on the other side people
want so much recognition. We want to believe
in that story so badly. We want so much to tell themselves that “Look I’m special!
The Web Summit selected me.” And that doesn’t bring you
anywhere because that’s fake work. That is asking for discipline. Please tell me. Question from the audience,
very good question, by the way. Some people are in a “pay it forward”
mindset and some people are going
to this conference to share their experience, what happened well
and that you can create.” Yeah, this is why conferences
are entertainment budget. When you are going to this kind of conferences
with a “pay it forward” mindset, and you are a speaker like,
I’m a speaker at a lot of conferences. I’m not saying that they are useless. I’m saying that they will never
bring your startup to a point where you can define successful
and not successful. That doesn’t mean I don’t go to holidays. That doesn’t mean I don’t like
to have fun and that doesn’t mean that this kind of conferences
are not good to cheer you up. But now let say, you have the choice
between taking yourself to a conference or taking a week of holidays
and you don’t have enough budget to do both. Which one will you choose? The holidays or the conference? Because the problem is that,
if people were in this kind of mindset, were going to conferences with that kind
of “pay it forward” mindset, it would be great, because
these would be moments to you build yourself up,
moments for you to rest, and for you to
take care of yourself. But if one day
you go to Web Summit you will see that everyone
in the room is there because they think that
it will bring them success for their companies. So, I’m not saying
that events are bad. I’m saying they are not work
and of course, if your life is 100% work,
you will be miserable in life. But the dangerous thing is in not seeing the difference
between what is work and what is not. Let’s take another example that is so common.
Building next features. Is it work or
is it not work? It’s a tricky question. Sometimes it is work,
sometimes it is not. Why? Because everything in work
can be defined in the startup
with a very simple test. The Life Metric test. It goes down to everything that is done in a company through one very
very simple simplification that, at TheFamily,
we call the Life Metric. What is a Life Metric? So Life Metric is a metric that separates you from being alive
and being a walking dead. You don’t imagine how many startups
are walking dead. So what is being a walking dead? We all know that a walking dead
is having a Life Metric that is not growing. Being alive for a startup is having
this Life Metric growing. So what is a Life Metric? So the Life Metric is in 99%
of the case: the revenue and sometimes, something else. But the Life Metrics is a metric
you cannot fake, It is a metric you cannot lie about. It is a metric that really defines whether you are doing well
or not doing well. And a very simple one is revenue. Because if you are making money
your company is going well. If you’re not making money
your company is going wrong. Pretty easy. Of course sometimes, like Facebook, their Life Metric
was not revenue because they’ve been lucky enough
to have enough money to live
and their Life Metric was: daily active users. So it is a different metric
but at the end it’s exactly the same game. So, when is building a new feature
important? If the feature provides you
growth and instantaneous growth for your Life Metric:
it’s work. If the feature is just the “nice to have”,
to feel better because you are such a perfectionist about your product,
it’s not work. And that is the problem:
sometimes fake work and work can be exactly the same thing
but if you want something that really makes a distinction
between each other: it is growth. Are you doing something
that provides growth to your company? Or are you doing something
that just provides you pleasure? And you don’t imagine
how many are not doing a startup to succeed,
but just doing a startup to feel better. And that’s fine. I’m cheering the fact that people find a way of life like that. But what happens is that,
most of the time, they don’t understand why
it doesn’t work. Because they don’t tell
to themselves that it is just an hobby
and not real startup. So if you are serious about startups, you need to focus on real work. And one of the key that makes people
uncomfortable about that is that so many people are worried
about making mistakes. So many people are in this freezing mindset
where they are like: “Oh my god! We need to think
about that because what if we make a mistake!” And to be honest, it is one of the thing
I don’t feel very comfortable talking about. You know I feel comfortable talking about a lot of things that I’m saying
because 99% of the mistakes I’m talking about are the mistakes
I did in my life. I was so good, as an entrepreneur,
to make every single mistake. Like if you take the fake work one: I think I spent 5 years of my life
just doing fake work. Most of the time
I feel very comfortable sharing that experience because I have empathy
from that experience, I am coming from there. So I can share with you
and I can tell you « Look, Listen to me. That’s bullshit.
Do something else.” But on that one,
I feel very uncomfortable because I never understand why people
are scared of doing mistakes. Like maybe because, I don’t know maybe because I’m unconscious or maybe because I don’t have
a very high opinion of myself or maybe because I don’t really care
about what people think and that’s a strength
in entrepreneurship. But each time I see people that are worried to make mistakes
and feel bad: it’s like meeting an alien
and trying to have a discussion about tea time. And they are like:
“Yeah, do you like to tea time?” And “yeah, what?” You need to be,
you need to understand that there is no point to be fearful
about mistakes and I will tell you a rational definition
of that. The rational definition
is that nobody cares. And it’s something really hard
for entrepreneurs to admit but you know there are so many entrepreneurs
that are sure that everyone in the world
are watching them. I’ve had this discussion so many times
with entrepreneurs like “Yeah, that’s our brand.” “Your brand?
Which brand are you talking about?” Like you have no brand dude,
you are just a random guy talking about random things and no one cares. Like you’re this loser that think
you’re something for moment. So it’s not a question of brand. Some people tell you “Yeah but I don’t want to waste
my time.” “You said that we should
not waste our time so if I make mistakes I waste my time.”
That’s not true. Making mistakes it’s never never
a waste of time. Never. Thinking about the kind of mistakes
you can do, that’s a time waster. But making mistakes is not wasting time.
You know why? Because you learn something. One of the best lesson I ever had
in entrepreneurship was the first time
I lost a lot of money. When I was younger
I had a bad luck and I ended up with 300,000 euros
of debt, personal. And I was 18 years old. So that puts you, on the scale of failure,
pretty high. Like if you take your net asset
at that moment I was like really really poor. And one guy told me “It’s very good news,
what happened to you.” And I said:
“Really, why?” He said: “Because you are in a field
that is pretty exceptional and pretty incredible.” “Really, why?” “Because in entrepreneurship
you have an absolute criteria of truth. If you are right, you make money. If you are wrong, you lose money. And the amount of money you lose is always the right price for the right lesson.” And from that day I felt alright
with anything I’ve lost. I don’t know it struck me
so much because it was just a random old guy. But he really put me in something. You don’t have absolute criteria of truth
in physics. You don’t have absolute criteria of truth
in math. You don’t have absolute criteria of truth
in philosophy. Believe me, you don’t have absolute criteria of truth in politics,
even worse. Like you can say things in politics that are not true or false
and believe it for 100 years. Same thing with religious people, people can believe things
and all their life long and they will never have any clue
if it’s true or false. There will be only their faith
and that’s fine. But it’s so compelling to be
in a field where you know when you’re right or wrong,
and you need to be very very aware of that. You know I always laugh when
there is an entrepreneur that comes and say “Yeah, I failed my company
because it was way too early.” “Yeah, sure.” By definition being way too early
is being wrong. Because timing is everything. So if you come and say “Yeah, I did not really fail, it’s the timing
that was failing.” No, you failed and it’s fine. Just be comfortable with that. Because in entrepreneurship
it always comes down to absolute truth. Are you making money or are you not? You are making money, you are right. You are not making money, you are wrong. I know it seems horrible. It seems materialist but it’s liberating. Everyone that is worried
about doing mistakes, actually is worried
about losing money. And I think that in entrepreneurship
loosing money is something you need to learn
very fast, because you will lose it,
and you will lose a lot. And you know, we had a discussion
yesterday at TheFamily about something that is not going well
and we ended up evaluating that we will maybe lose 170K. And it made me laugh
because of course when that’s the first time in your life
when this happens, you are like:
“Oh my god, it’s horrible.” But when it’s the hundredth time
that it happens to you, “170K more, 170k less,
whatever.” You need to reach that mindset, you need to reach that mindset
as soon as possible. And I think that the US is much
more comfortable with this mindset than Europe
because they are all in debt. When you are used, from a very
very young age, to take debt for everything in your life,
even studying. Like how do you think they feel
when they are entrepreneurs? Do you really think they are like “Oh my god, I lost 50,000€.
It’s horrible.” They are like: “Yeah, my mortgage for my house
is 200K and my study is 150K and my TV is 10,000. So why would I care?” So that puts them in the mindset that they are not here to avoid mistakes. And if you look at
the big anthology of life, you know anthology? The things behind the things,
the essence of things. Like if you look at the anthology of life, there is something amazing. You only need to be right once. Only once.
Like you can make 1000 mistakes. Let’s say you lose 50 times or
5000 times: 1000 dollars. You will end up losing 5 million.
If you are right once and you make 20 million, it’s done. Everything is solved. By the way, they will invite you
to the conferences, and “pay it forward” and you can come
and say “I’m an entrepreneur, I learnt ABC” and you will feel good. And, of course, you will forget about every time you failed.
That’s what happens to a lot of people. You know in France we are the specialists
for that: we had all these bunch of people
that had luck in 2000. Because in 2000 even a monkey
could be right and for 20 years, we had them
on stage talking about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, and they never did anything
in their lives, and they will even come
and say that they will eat quinoa and sell their cars, blah, blah, blah So, you don’t imagine
how I feel better. So making mistakes is not important, making mistake is fine
and you know why? You will learn things. You will learn so much that it will always be
a net profit for you. Because the money is not something
you need to optimize for. So lets look at the 3 things
that any entrepreneur needs. An entrepreneur needs capital, an entrepreneur needs people, an entrepreneur needs time. The first two ones are replaceable. You will always find someone who will write you another check,
even Bernard Tapie is fundraising so… If that guy can fundraise
you can all fundraise guys. It’s just a question of persuasion,
time, luck but at the end, you will always find someone
to write you a check. People are replaceable.
I know, it’s hard. I know some people look exceptional
but no one is. Like if I was not the one talking on stage, someone else would be here. You know like it’s so hard to be lasting
in this world. There is a movie I love about that:
it’s Ted. I don’t know, who saw Ted? Everyone saw it, so for the ones who did not see Ted:
you have to go see Ted. It’s one of the best entrepreneurial
movie ever. And in that movie there is an opening scene
about the story, so they tell you there is this little boy, he has a teddy bear and no more, it’s not a spoiler, it’s even in the trailer. He has a teddy bear, he wanted
so hard for the teddy bear to come alive, he had wished it so much
that the teddy bear came alive. And teddy bear
becomes a huge world star. And the opening story finishes by: “and finally obviously after certain amount of time,
no one takes notice ever.” And you have the bear
in the street walking like, “Yeah!”, and the guys are:
“Yeah Ted!” And why? Because after a certain
amount of time, no one gives a fuck. And that’s true for everyone. So if you don’t reinvent
yourself all the time, someone will invent something else, and it will be the next thing. So you cannot…
Yeah? “You have been talking
about luck many times, how do you define luck?” I don’t define luck. Let’s say we all understand the word, and whatever definition
you put behind that, it works to understand
what I say. But luck is everything
we don’t explain. It’s easy.
Some people call that faith. Some people call that talent, some people call that merit. Some people call that
whatever you want! I’m using luck as a general notion of… “I’m not sure why it’s like that, at the end it’s like that.” We all need a little bit of luck. I was working with a guy
that was always saying, “I don’t like people
that don’t have luck.” So he was taking halves of business plans,
putting them in the trash cans, receiving investment memos
and when people asked why: “I don’t like people that don’t have luck.” And one day I told him
“Yeah but maybe you’re the one without luck. You are trashing the only good ones.” And it made him freeze, like he used
Stack Over Flow for a month he was like:
“Oh my god, what did I miss!” And he was like: “Did we kept everything
I put in the trash?” “Of course not,
you put it in the trash can.” He sent a message
to everyone like: “if you sent a business plan
and I did not reply to you, please send it back to me. » So you see, the luck question
can go on forever. I don’t think it’s very interesting. You know Peter Thiel in his book said:
“Luck doesn’t exist” and blah, blah, blah.. It’s hard to sustain that argument. Of course luck doesn’t explain
100% of things, but sometimes people have luck,
that’s it. So just live with it
and never explain things forever. You say that mistakes are a good thing, and I kind of agree with you. But sometimes making mistakes
cost money, and when you are young
you don’t have enough money so… how do you do it? You do it without money. Be fine with that. One of the point is that no one needs money to succeed. If it’s something new in this world, something that is changing, something that is quite
an historical phenomenon that no one notices, it’s that no one needs money
to succeed anymore. And that doesn’t mean that at some point
you don’t need money to succeed more, but whatever kind of money you lose, you will be better without it. You know, one of the good discipline, we had that talk in our partnership. There is a guy that is an entrepreneur
in our portfolio, and he is very rich,
and he is kind of greedy, and I think he has a complicated
relationship with money: he has all these rational arguments about why he doesn’t invest
in his own business. And the guy is struggling
for 5,000 euros, trying to find tricks
to solve the issue and he could just have paid
someone 5,000 euros. And we had a discussion yesterday, with one of the partner at TheFamily
saying: “That guy is a moron,
he could just pay the 5,000 euros and focus on things that are more important.” And I was telling him:
“it’s not right.” Because I think money puts you
in situation where you don’t optimize the right thing and having the discipline for whatever reason,
good or bad, that puts you in situations
where you force yourself to succeed without money
can be a very very good discipline. Because that’s what makes you
more creative. That puts you in a situation where you will think
outside of the box. Money is a really hardcore drug. It’s so hard to get out of it. Because, like,
look at all the people, I’m sure there is a lot of them
in this room. People start and they say: “Oh I have 30,000 euros
to start my business” And how did they spend
the first 30,000 euros? In the worst thing ever. I never saw someone that spent right their first money and when they’re out of money
then that is the entrepreneurship definition point. Defining point. Because on one half you will have people
that will go on and they will be like: “okay, I lost that money,
it was stupid, but I will survive anyway” and you will have
all these people that will go to FailCon and explain
that it’s fine to lose that money. So, you know, lot of people in Europe
have unemployment benefits. In France it’s 18 months,
in Germany it’s 20 months, in Italy it’s 36 months. Like there are all these country where you can use unemployment
to finance your startup and live. In the United States you don’t have that. Like do you think the amount of startup
in The US is lower than in France? Of course not. Why? Because people need to move
on day one. Because we don’t have any other choice, they have only their savings,
they are really risking it, they are in situations where
they have no other choice. In France, in TheFamily
we call that the 18 month startup because they have 18 months. So during six months
they listen to no one, during six months
they watch our videos, and during six months they decide
if they do a startup for real or not. And you don’t imagine how many people,
after 18 months, the day they don’t have this kind of subsidiary
from the state, decide: “Okay I don’t have my public salary anymore,
I will get a job back.” And it’s not because
they need the money to live, some people need
the money to live, but you can always
have a solution. It’s better to start a startup
on nights and weekends, and work hard to get a salary and do a startup,
than being unemployed and live on that. Because it doesn’t put you
in the right mindset, again. And it seems to be a good thing, it seems that it’s incredible
we have this kind of benefits and it would be incredible
if people had the right mindset. But because people
want to avoid mistakes, they want to save their brands because they don’t want to look
like fools, they are not all skin in the game, and you can not fake play
entrepreneurship, you need to be a total
“skin in the game”. If you don’t do that
you will not go back. So if you understand that one
of the biggest enemies you have is the culture of
the country you live in, you need to understand that
one of your jobs is to fight back. And fighting back is not about
changing the culture. Fighting back is about impeaching
the culture to go over you. And I think that is something you really need
to understand as a big difference. A lot of people think that to succeed they need to change
the environment around them. You know for example,
all these entrepreneurs that go to talk to the government
to explain what a startup is, hoping that the government
will change their mindset. And six months later:
it’s nowhere. Because you will not change
the culture around you. In Europe we have this very complicated
relationship with failure. Not only mistakes,
even worse with failures. We don’t trust people
that failed. And we have this image that
I’ve heard about so many times: “Yeah in the United States, they are so comfortable
with failure, failing is good.” Yeah, it even became a joke. Like of course, they are not fine with failure. No one is fine with failure. Do you think that there are people
out there that are like “Yeah, I failed,
it felt so good.” No! You feel bad when you fail, and it’s important to feel bad. If you don’t fell bad when you fail,
you have no self esteem. Like it would be horrible. You would be this kind of
horrible person that is not looking to succeed,
just looking to fail. When we say we need to be more
comfortable with failure, we say two things. First we should never define people
for who they are, but for what they are doing. And that’s the real thing we are not comfortable with
in Europe. In Europe, whoever you are,
for example, you are elected in a Who is who,
for example. And they will ask you about which school
you did go to. That would be the first line
in your curriculum. It’s weird. Like we define people so much
not by what they are doing but by who they are. And who they are is where
they are coming from, which family, what did they study,
who they are, blah, blah, blah… All the things that don’t mean anything. Of course if you went to Harvard,
MIT, Oxford, Normale Sup, or Bologna University,
you are certainly smart. No doubt about that. But the good question is not:
“are you smart?” The good question is:
“Are you using that smartness for the good or not?
Is it useful or not?” That’s the good question. And the failure relationship
comes down to this thing that we are so uncomfortable
with just judging people for who they are. And when you did something in the past,
it becomes who you are. If one day you made a mistake, if one day you bankrupted a company,
if one day… we will track you down
for years and years because it will define who you are. And we have this very very
not fluid structure of who you are. So can you change that
in the society? Of course not. And you know what? If this kind of thing,
if they don’t change naturally, they become even worse. Like I think, for example,
I am not a big fan of that. But there is this conference
called the FailCon around the world, where people come
and talk about their failures. I don’t think it’s a good thing. Because I don’t think that putting
in the mindset of people who failed is a good thing, that having this kind of fake mindset
is a good thing. What you should put in the mind of people is: “look, keep your failures private, don’t talk about it. And just fight back.” Like if you are not comfortable
with your own failures no one around you
will be comfortable. When I came in France in 2013, I was telling people
that I failed with Hypios, and I lost so much money, and I made so many mistakes. And people were like:
“Oh my god and you can do TheFamily,
it doesn’t get you.” I’m like:
“Why would it prevent me, like, do you really think that
there is a God of failure coming down on earth and saying:
I dare you to continue?” Like, no. Like the truth is that most of the time this failure problem comes down
to people themselves. They will be like:
“Yeah, I failed, it’s miserable.” And people around them will say:
“Yeah, it’s miserable.” And everyone will be like:
“Why are you saying it’s miserable?” I’m telling you, it’s not big deal. No. They will tell you
it’s a big deal. They will tell you it’s horrible. They will tell you:
« You’re just a failed guy. » They will tell you:
« You are not trusted to work with. » One day we will make public every
phone call Alice received on me. One day we will make public
every single person that said that I was dangerous
and not worth working with. But you have 2 choices
in that case: Choice one:
you’re trying to change your environment, you will go and fight back
and you will say: “it’s my social right to fail and I will fight for the failures
of the world.” Or you will ignore it
and you will just keep working and you will have people around you
that will ignore it because they know you. And if you don’t have this kind
of people around you, anyway you’re already screwed and you should do something else. It can be a very good test. So the downside of that is
that it looks horrible, it looks hard. The upside is that it filters
lots of people out, a lot of noise. And that’s the kind of thing
you are looking for, because you are in an hostile
environment and in an hostile environment
you don’t debate, you just fight back. And you fight back especially
with yourself. Because you’re the problem,
not the others. And one of the thing
that comes down to that: in so many of the startup ecosystems
around Europe, there is this feeling that we are
in a big zoo. And that startups are little animals we feed with peanuts because
we go visit them. Do you have an incubator that doesn’t
organize visits of big corporations? I saw in London, even in London
that for me, in my heart, is one of the best places in Europe
to build a startup, that is way above the line
from a lot of countries. Even in London you can go and pitch at Buckingham Palace. Do you think that any Duke in the room, that never took a decision in their lives, that don’t know what it means to be free, that lives with this heavy thing of being the member of the Royal committee
will have any feedback that will be useful for any entrepreneurs coming to that event? At that point it’s not even entertainment, you’re just reaching the point
of being an animal in the zoo. You know like the period when
we were putting humans in a zoo because they had
a different skin color and people were coming and saying:
“Ah, that’s interesting, he’s not white.” And that’s the new start up,
people go and they are like
“Oh, you are an entrepreneur?” “Yeah, I know there is so much
unemployment, I understand why
you started your company.” There is this story I always tell:
when I was much younger and entrepreneurship was not famous, I had a lunch with my girlfriend
at the time with parents, grandparents. And the guy asked me:
the grandpa said “what do you do?” And I said: “I’m an entrepreneur”
and the guy took his eyes down and said: “I know for young people
it’s so hard to find a job.” And it was really funny.
You know, I’m a little bit nostalgic for this period. You know, at that time people were not willing
to be entrepreneurs because it was cool. Doesn’t mean it was better. I say it’s nostalgic
even if it was worse. But the good thing about that
is that if you realize that, you should put your self esteem
at the right level. And you should refuse all of that. And you should always ask the question:
“Is it useful or not?” And you should be obsessed about
not doing things that are not useful. Why? Because in a toxic environment,
you cannot fool around. In toxic environment,
you cannot be a little bit undisciplined. You discipline should be
at the top level. Nothing is unimportant
because it’s exactly like small details. Let me tell you a story
and you will understand. When we started TheFamily,
we went to talk, actually I went to talk
to very high level Olympic coach. And asking them:
“How do you recognize someone that will become an Olympic champion? Do you track KPIs? Do you look at metrics? Do you have that kind of,
let’s say, if someone at 12 years old runs
at less than 10 seconds, I don’t know what this means,
he will have 18 years old and be a world champion?” And the guy, every single guy told me:
“No, no, it doesn’t work. Because you have so many things
that come into account, you can’t change your shape, your genetics,
blah, blah, blah, things like that.” Okay, but there is an element
that builds your confidence, there is that guy that told me
it’s called the last piece of cake. So what is the last piece of cake? If you’re a very very high
level performance sport guy, what you eat has a very deep influence
on your performance for years. And every single transgression
you will do, every single breach in that discipline will put you in a position where your chances decrease
and you have two kind of sport people. You have the Usain Bolt
of the world. They can eat, drink, do drugs,
whatever they want. They run. And that’s it. They are genetically predisposed to run, they are so good at whatever they do. Like there’s this story,
I don’t know if it’s true or not. But the guy was in the night clubs
the night before breaching two world records. And I can’t believe it’s true. Like I can’t imagine like how horrible it is for everyone around him working hard. But for everyone that is not
genetically predisposed for that, there is only one choice. You will never take the piece of cake. Because one piece of cake:
you will pay it for years. Because what a single breach of performance
like that will create in your body, it might take you a week to recover, if you look at the geometrical effect
of that week over 10 years, it can be really really hard. And so it’s not the question that the piece of cake
will change your performance. Of course you can recover. But it will a very good clue
about your mindset for winning. And because down earth,
it’s not the ones with the best pre-disposals
that become the best sport people, it’s the ones working really
really hard. Entrepreneurship is exactly
the same thing. If you’re in an environment
like Europe where things are toxic, every single little step
you are taking that are not perfect are steps
that put you in a situation where you can be the one
that will miss from nothing. Because one day you went
to a startup competition, because one day you took
a bad employee, because you did something
that was not good for your environment. You should understand that
most of the environment is hard. Most level of perfection should be higher. It’s exactly like going
to university in the United States. You now, in the United States
it is very expensive, if you don’t want to end up in debt
you need to be perfect in class. Not good, perfect.
Entrepreneurship in Europe is the same thing, it’s like getting a scholarship
for US universities. You cannot be good, if you are good,
life out there is not right for you. You need to develop a perfect mindset, we are not asking
for being good, we are asking to be perfect
and perfect day after day. That doesn’t mean
that you will start perfect. One of the best way to become perfect
at something is to very bad and work hard. And everyday you will spend
not working hard to be better:
it will be a day that will make the environment
winning over you. So that fight back attitude is very important. And to sustain that attitude,
one of the first thing you need to do in that environment
that is quite unique is that you need to become profitable
as soon as possible. So let’s define profitable. Of course, I’m not talking about the real profitability. It takes years to real company to the point where the company
is really profitable. You need to understand that at the beginning,
your costs are so low, that you have the opportunity
to be profitable like Paul Graham called that:
Ramen profitable. But we don’t eat ramen in Europe so people don’t like this analogy. So we need to find
like a Brasserie profitable, or Coq au vin profitable. So you need reach a point
where your destiny is not in the hands of the outside,
it’s in the hands of the inside. Meaning that you decide
when you unplug or not. Meaning you put yourself
to a point where you are not depending
on investors, because investors
are the first source of toxicity. By definition they are all
the horrible people that made money
in an environment that was not good
for people to make money. Think about that. If you agree that
the environment is toxic you can understand why investors
are in average so horrible. Of course that doesn’t mean
that there is no good investor but in average
they are not so good. Why? Because only horrible people
succeed. Because that’s the way
it was 20 years ago. Not meaning that everyone that succeeds is horrible,
of course, I don’t want a lawsuit. So, if you understand
that, one of your goals, one of your missions
is to be free as soon as possible. Please?
So the question is: “I’m a little bit confused because Alice said that the first thing we try to do
was to solve others problems, and the business model
will come after and here you’re saying that the business model
should come first. That’s your question?
Okay. Okay, did I say business model? That’s the confusion. Making money, or to make money:
you don’t need a business model. Like we made money very fast
at TheFamily. I think the first year
of TheFamily we did a million euro
in revenue. First year
but we did not have a business model. That’s the tricky thing. The tricky thing is that people confuse the opportunity
of making money to be independent and the fact of having
a business model. So let’s define
what is a business model. Having a business model
is having a methodology to provide value at scale, that you can take a cut on that value
and it will generate money. But to give you an image,
having a business model is that you solved the mystery
of your company, and so it’s automatic,
it’s growing and there is this scheme like I spend A,
I do B and that generates C. That means that if
I invest more in A, that generates more of B,
generating more of C. If you look about the way
we made money the first year, We rent our room upstairs because
there was room, we made a little bit of money
to pay the rent. And we did a party
called the Overnight, we did a party with 30,000 people
in a night club and we did 60,000 euros
in a night. I did speeches in front of big companies
in exchange of money. Do you think this is the business model
of TheFamily? Sending Oussama to speak
to big companies? So there is a big difference between
being opportunistic in terms of revenue streams and having a business model. – Yeah! That’s the point. So the point again is that if you understand that your mission
is to be free and your mission is to be independent
as soon as possible, there is no cost to that. So what you call balance:
I call it a necessity. Like the underlining question
behind what you said is: “Am I really ready to pay the price that it will imply and horrible life it will imply?” Like having a stranger in your house
to pay rent is not good. You know one of the thing that we did is that we gave up our apartment and we lived at TheFamily
to reduce our costs. Who here is ready to live where they work for a year to make it possible? Yeah … I’m sure a few of you.
And that’s fine. But the point is that
the one that are ready to do that are in better position
than the one that are not. So the question of balance
is a fake question. There is no such thing as a balance,
you need to do both. And if you are not capable
of doing both, you’re in a situation when you’re not capable
of taking off the ground. And that’s why most of the venture, and most of the entrepreneur
are in situations where it’s really really hard
to bootstrap and start. You know one of the first definition
of entrepreneurship in Harvard business review is one
of the definition I love about entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is someone
that does things without resources. It’s a definition in 1994
or something like that. It’s so funny that the first idea
we got about entrepreneurs at that time: it was people that were solving
this impossible puzzle. Doing things without the means
to do things. And what happened during
the last one hundred years is that the level gets so down,
that now the only definition is the personal life of people. Because being a Ramen Profitable
is just about getting yourself to a point
where you survive. That can be through saving,
that can be through personal money. I will give you an example.
We have a company that spent 6 months trying to raise money because they had this constraint that
they had no savings, very young, no unemployment, and because they had literally no money
at all left. If they started a company
they would be in a position where they would not even have one month
of runway. That’s a kind of very hard position. So they went to see
every single VC in town, every single business angel,
and they basically played the game of charity. Please give me money
so that my big idea can become reality. One day they came here
in a meeting, and they told me that
they needed money and if they didn’t get the money
they would not be able to launch and blah, blah, blah… So it pissed me off a little. And I told them like: “Okay so you are a designer,
you’re a coder, you are a biz guy
and you are telling me you cannot save 50,000 euros
to launch? Like are you serious? Just go out, work in a company for six month, put 80% of your salary in savings and in six months you can start.” “Yeah but in six months
it will be too late.” Yeah it’s much better than to spend six months
of your life trying to raise money.” Of course that’s a much better strategy. They got out mad of this meeting
because I think I said it a little less nicely than now. And I don’t know by miracle,
they opened, they went on Upwork
or Odesk. They put a billboard online
that said “designer, a computer science guy
and a biz guy together. We can build a website
for 5,000 euros.” And they sold 20 websites. They did it in a month. And they put 100K on their site. Now it’s a very successful startup
at TheFamily. And you see it’s a question of time management
and mindset. Again because people
are so obsessed about their companies that they think the only way to make money
is to find a business model, but you have so many opportunities
around, that it can be done easily
and that will put you in a situation where you are free to do whatever
you need to reach a business model. And reaching a business model
can take years. Google took 8 years to reach
a business model level. Do you know, like it’s hard
to play a game like that. But do you know how much Facebook
did on their first year? Like Facebook is the definition
of a company that looks like they took
so long to find a business model. I’m sure that here
a lot of people think that Facebook never made money
on the first year. Facebook was doing $80,000 revenue
a month after 3 months of launch. $80,000! They did a million euros
on their first year. One million dollar on first year. You can look on their S-1
IPO thing. They made money on year first
and you know how they did that? What? No. No, that’s much later. Apple deal, much later. No, they went on gambling websites, and bought affiliation links
and they looked at people that were having the profiles
of gamblers on Facebook and put ads only for them
with gambling links. People subscribed to
the gambling websites, and they were making
100 dollars. Is it a business model to put gambling websites
on Facebook ads? Of course not. But if you are smart enough,
it can be an opportunity, and it can make you survive. And even like, it’s a very interesting case. Because if there is one guy
on earth that hate advertising,
I’m sure it’s the Zuckerberg team. Like even now they could put 10 times
more advertising than there is on Facebook and they don’t.
Even him, he did that because survival is much more important
than your own feelings. That’s the difference between him, and someone greedy. At first,
he did not do it on every user. He did it only targeting users
that he thought were good. And the second thing is that
he did in a way that as soon as fundraise money,
he stopped to do it. Because he did not need
this opportunity anymore. But what happened?
Why did he do that? Because he wanted to fundraise money
with the best people. Not just fundraising money. What most of the people in France, and in Europe in general
will do is that they will fundraise with anyone,
just for the sake of fundraising. Because we will need to fund raise
as soon as possible. And they will never think
about this kind of hack, and this kind of opportunity. But in the United States, you can fundraise
with pretty decent people very fast. In Europe the level you need to reach
to fundraise with good people is much higher because
average angels in France are toxic. Average people making money
in restaurants, or anything like that or classical big company
executive putting money in startups: They don’t have any clue
about what you are doing. And you are putting them
in a situation where they can have a word
about your destiny. And I’m not talking about term sheets, rights, Board of Directors, having them:
when someone invest in your company, he is part of your DNA.
That’s it. That’s the magic
bound of money. So if you understand that, you need to be
very very careful about the kind of people you let in. Because it’s very intimate
and you don’t want let anyone that is weirding you out. So obviously you don’t want anyone that is weird inside your company. And that comes down
to something else. It comes down to this period
of “Go big or go home”. You know, being an entrepreneur
is very hard. Very very hard.
It’s not easy. And let’s say here:
everyone launches a startup. Maybe 3 of you or 4 of you
will make a living of this startup. That’s the actual odds
of succeeding. It’s not higher,
it’s really not high. We can take the historic number
of TheFamily. So TheFamily: 10,000 people applied, 358 were selected, 184 are actually alive, 33 of them that are not walking dead,
everybody else is walking dead, so 53 have a real metrics,
and on the 53 only 10, 20 that are, 10 more than 50 million,
20 more than 10 million. So you have a group of top 20 stars
that are really exceptional, they will make a living
of their startups. And the group at the beginning
was 10,000 people applying. You see, you see the game
you are playing? And by the way the most valuable company
at TheFamily is more valuable than the sum of every single company
in TheFamily. That’s a luck. So what do you do
with that? What do you do with
this information? You have two kind of attitudes:
attitude one is that you can lower your standards. You can tell yourself: “that’s fine. Ah, we will do in a small and medium enterprise, and I will be an average entrepreneur
and I will live with it.” Or what you can do is
that you can tell yourself: “If I don’t have the feeling
that it will go big. I will do it again until I get the feeling
that it will go big.” And that was the story I was telling you about,
the pivoting thing. And you know, I’m not a fan
of this pivoting thing. I was talking in London this week
with a guy that was telling me that is grandma was doing a startup.
Not a joke. And she called him and said:
“yeah I’m pivoting this week !» and the guy was depressed. And I told him it was good for her. Like sometimes good pivots can be
a good balance for the body. But if people are, like if it becomes
so obvious that people need to pivot, we forget on the way
what it means to pivot. Pivoting means you take a blank page
and you restart form zero. That’s a real pivot. It’s okay, it’s not going to the point
where I wanted to so I’ll do a pivot. You know, in France we have one guy
I will always be impressed by what he did, the Criteo guy. That guy did a first start up that went nowhere,
easy to restart. Then he restarted
from zero. The second startup he did
before Criteo was doing something
like 100 million users worldwide. 100 million users
and no business model. And no way it would be big. What do you do? I think 99% of the people would be like: “Yeah, we have 100 million users,
I can go on TechCrunch, I can go to conference,
I can be a star and I will be fine with that. That’s fine, if I don’t make money because I can fool around and fundraise
for ever and ever.” And users one day will stop coming
and I will explain that I was too early on the market.” He shut down, he shut down
the 100 million users, and started again
and it became Criteo. The biggest company
ever built in France. BlaBlaCar is another example that
we can cherish in France. You have that guy
that had this weird idea: “Let’s take two people
that don’t know each other, and ride a car together,
even more, 5 people.” And it’s so hard to launch this startup
that he worked nights and week-ends for 6 or 7 years
before reaching a point where it could fundraise his first round. You imagine the level of determination. But it’s not a question of “Oh I’m not aware of my KPI.” He was aware of the KPI from day first. He was just so sure that the KPI
was right but just slow, that he was ready to take it
bigger and bigger and bigger. So, you see that’s the kind of mindset
when we talk about “Go big or go home.” And go home can be fine. By the way, if the reason you want
to be an entrepreneur is to make money, becoming
an early employee in companies is much better to do money
than being a founder. Like you can switch from companies
to companies… Yeah? So the question is:
“You are talking pivoting, starting from scratch. Does it imply also that
we can change our market?” Exactly. Of course.
Nothing is eternal. Only diamonds. So if you want, you can change
your market, you can change your team, you can change anything. Like you should be very fine
with this idea. I think the most crazy story
I’ve ever heard about regarding pivot was
the first iPhone. Like I don’t know if you know that story, but six months before
the release of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs was very unhappy
with the design and the feeling,
and the features, that he came during the night, and he deleted every single file
about the iPhone, and people came back
and he was like “I don’t know, we got hacked.” “Yeah but it’s your log in Steve!” “Oh yeah.
So yeah, we start over.” And so many people yelled
and got furious, and everybody said,
because in fact that was six months before launching,
so people said “we should change the date
for the launch.” “I’m Steve Jobs, I don’t change
dates for launch, so let’s make it possible!” And I think people don’t imagine, what kind of effect that creates. Because every single bad decision you took is kind of a invisible debt that keeps you,
and it’s hard to move. So if you go from a blank page, you can build things,
it doesn’t mean that you change. By the way, it’s not because
you change everything, that you don’t need to go
from a blank page. It can be very good to re-code, re-design,
re-do things from zero. Even if you already have assets, and things, until a certain point of course. Don’t do that every month. But until it works, it can be very very good
to re-do everything. And changing markets
is one of the best way reinvigorate your company.
And changing market is one of the best way to to reinvigorate your company. Because sometimes the market defines your success. Criteo example is a good one. So one of the good way
to fight a toxic ecosystem is to find people that feel
in the same mindset as you. That’s one of the mission of TheFamily. That’s what we try to do. That’s why we organize dinners, we organize entertainments… That’s why we organize all of that, that are outside work
because you need to cherish yourself. You need to take care
of yourself. You need to enjoy yourself. It’s not that I’m saying that you need to be focused
and disciplined and all of that, and on your work, and that outside work
you should not have a life. And being surrounded by people
that believe the same thing than you, that try to do the same thing than you, is one of the best way to protect
yourself from the outside. You know, there is one image,
we really like about TheFamily. At the beginning of TheFamily,
we met this very famous advertiser
that did very big brands. And she started to brainstorm
about our brand. I’m laughing because it’s a good memory
and she said; “Actually TheFamily,
you’re an isolated island.” “What?”
“Yeah, you are alone on the island, there is a fire in the middle,
you dance around the fire, and everybody is far away
and this is a fire, like, who the fuck are these people on this island?” And we loved that image. And I think, I’m not sure she said
that as a good thing. Because the next sentence was: “And you go out of the island,
you need to integrate people.” And I was like:
“What? Am I alone?” No. The fire is good. Like we are fine. Let us just dance naked
on the island. Don’t come. And you know what?
Go out from the island. I think the analysis was like:
“you are isolated, you need to open,
let’s do an advertising campaign.” And it was like:
“You’re isolated.” I was like:
“Oh really! That’s so cool.” “Yeah, yeah let’s do it
more actually” I think that is one of the way where we even become more radical about that. And we will always be more radical
about that. That doesn’t mean that the island
cannot get bigger and bigger and bigger. During the first dinner we organized
I was cooking for ten people, and now it’s 300 people
that come, and a guy we don’t know
who cooks. We can scale. I’m sure in two years
we will have dinners all around Europe
and it will be things, lot of little islands
isolated like that. But the important thing in that
is that it’s not because you fight back, it’s not because you understand what the problems are,
outside, that first you need to be
in a changed mindset but also it means that
to make yourself feel better you need to find people
who agree with you. Because if you’re alone
in your analysis, and you have no one that agrees with you,
it can end badly. You can really exclude yourself. So being excluded from the ecosystem:
it’s not important, what is important to be together, and to be strong,
and to really build your goal, and to be focused
on your goal. And also you need to know
your strength, you need to be sure
that what is good inside the ecosystem:
you take it for you. And that will be what we will talk about
this afternoon. But there is a very important thing
that you need to understand: and that’s the “pay if forward”
culture. So who here understand
what “Pay it Forward” means? Very honestly, raise your hand
very high, for my statistical information. Okay, so “pay it forward”
comes from the hippie culture. It is the idea that you should
give before receiving. It’s a very mystic idea. The idea is that if everyone
inside the community, if they give before receiving,
one day we will all be paid in the future. It’s pay it forward. It’s idea that at some point you will get
a benefit of that if everyone in the community
does that. And I think that the “pay it forward” thing
is the real antidote against toxicity, because everything that is complicated, everything that is invisible, all the things I talk about during all
these sessions: you can say them if you find
a group big enough that paid forward between members
and protect themselves from the outside. And every single challenge is smaller
when done together. And that “pay it forward” attitude is not
a fucking networking thing like, you know, I read that sometimes:
“the 10 best things to network, when you network in a party,
try to find value you can bring before taking value.” It’s horrible. You’re just giving to receive. No that is not “Pay it Forward”. Pay it Forward is about the fact that giving should be a discipline, and a bit of discipline
you force yourself to have everyday even if you have a feeling
that it will never pay off. Never. And I can tell you that in Europe, you can feel that way for a long time. Because that can be the toxicity. You can give so much and at some point you can adapt, but you don’t imagine
all the profit you get from that. So I don’t want to look
a little bit mystical on that but it’s a very rational thing. It’s like at some point you reach
a tipping point where everyone thing like that, and if you are strong enough to bring
your community around you to that point, it will create an effect back. The effect back will be
the feedback loop of that that will put you in a situation where so many people around you give so much
that you will take it for yourself too. And at that point, the ecosystem become less
and less toxic because everything that doesn’t work well
becomes an opportunity. And I think that’s one of thing:
we are talking about everything wrong in Europe. Because of course there is not
such a place on earth where there is no opportunity
for entrepreneurs. What I wanted to share with you
this morning is that all of that doesn’t matter. All of what I said doesn’t matter, if you have the right methodology. It can be fucked up outside,
it can be horrible, it can be pessimist. People you know like,
so many people told us: “Ah, it so good what you are doing at TheFamily. One say you will save France.” And I think that is the most horrible, and stupid sentence you can tell us. Because no one is strong enough
to save the country. Like countries never get saved
by any individual. Countries get saved by collective awareness
around an issue, and that’s the role of politics. Our job here is to save
the 200 best companies in Europe. That’s our job and in that process
we will be ready to help whoever we can
to achieve that goal. And that’s a much…
First, we can measure that goal, because 200 company a year
that are good and doing well, that’s a KPI you can track. And it’s very important to have a precise KPI
in what you do. And also it’s something
that seems possible. Hard but possible. If you come and you say: “Yeah, let’s save
the ecosystem.” You will be like: “What?
But how do you do that?” And I think that, on that way,
the pay it forward comes with an equilibrium:
it’s that in the same time you are not here to save the ecosystem
or to save anything abstract, you are here to save yourself. If you need to be aware
of the toxicity of the ecosystem, it’s because you need to
not get trapped in that. You need to be strong enough to survive,
disciplined enough to grow, good enough to bring people with you
so life will be easier, but you don’t need to think to think
about these big things, like, “Let’s make a Non Profit
that will gather us, and save the ecosystem blah, blah.” No, you need to stay aligned. If you want to change Europe,
it will be much easier to change Europe if we build 100 people
that are billionaires than with any political action in anything
about entrepreneurship. And I can tell you that from our experience. So isolate yourself, work hard,
stay disciplined, focus and build things that are amazing
and everything else will follow. Thank you. So questions guys. The question was: « You are saying
we don’t like failure in Europe, and the underlining question is
the problem in Europe: we never are sure about
where we are failing and how do you define failure
in your startups? » So I will reply with something, it’s a question I am asked all the time, because people think that
there is a KPI of failure. Like for example,
I made this kind of mistake at the beginning of TheFamily. For example, in a video,
I said in French: “if someone doesn’t have 20% a conversion rate
on his page like blah, blah is below” and after this kind of stupid sentence
I received emails for years like: “Yeah, but I have a 15% conversion, and my company is doing well,
so fuck you.” Okay, sorry, it was kind of average. Or people are like: “I have a conversion rate of 30% and I don’t know why it’s failing.” Like maybe because you’re selling crap,
good explanation. So there is not such a thing as a KPI
for failure. Like failing is just about
the fact that you don’t feel ok
with yourself, and also it’s about the fact
that you feel that you are not growing. You know, one of the thing
I always repeat is that: success is obvious. There was this debate
in the United States at the Supreme Court about
how do you define porn. The question was, there
was this movie that got classified as porn because there was sexually explicit content
inside it and they asked the federal judge, and the federal judge said:
“it’s porn” or “it’s not porn”, I don’t remember it,
and it ended up at The Supreme Court. So you have The Nine or …
I don’t remember how many, yeah, nine, that come and try to judge what is porn, and the conclusion of the debate
is that porn is obvious. It’s that porn is unanimous. Like I think if I show you
10 movies, that have explicit contain you will
always recognize a porn movie. And there will be movies
that are considered as art, art movies and half of the people
will say that it is art, and half of the people will say that it’s porn,
not because it’s porn. They know it’s not porn.
But just because they don’t want to see it, and because they are shocked by their personal beliefs
and blah, blah. So the Supreme Court said:
if it’s unanimous, it’s porn. If it’s not unanimous:
it’s not porn. And it’s easy. And it’s exactly the same thing
with success and failure. In startups, success is obvious. I never saw a startup succeeding
that makes debates. Like you know,
when you have the feeling that your phone rings more
than you can reply, when your mail box is full of emails, and you’re late replying. If you have the feeling you’re always late with your startup:
you are succeeding. But if you are in the plan
like for example, every failing company is always on track
with their business model and business plan. Why? Because it’s easy. They say I will do 10 sales, and they reach 10 sales. And they did not reach 100, so success is not here yet. They need to push harder. So to give you an image it is exactly
like if you are, if you have a punching ball
and you go in the punching ball, and the punching ball doesn’t move. That is what happens to
most of the entrepreneurs, they go very hard and the thing
is so heavy that it doesn’t move. And that’s the feeling that
they work hard, and they don’t understand. And you have some people who punch
in the punching ball, and the ball comes back
at their faces. That’s success.
It’s overwhelming. It’s something so big that
you are uncomfortable, and the problem is that
it’s a very personal ethos question. Defining failure and success
can be like: people can be fine with a very small level
of success. Some people have a bigger
definition of success. But you always reach a point
where there is no debate at all. -So I have a question
about the business model. You told us the business model
comes afterward, you need to find your clients,
find what you want to do, and why you want to do it. But sometimes I heard the question,
when I talk about my project, people always ask me: “how are you going to make money?” So do you think we should just…,
that’s what I’m doing, I’m lying, I’m making myself
confident about how I’m going to make money
but I don’t have any idea. Is that a good process? -It’s a horrible process
on every step. First step: you let have
this discussion with people, which kind of people do you
have the discussion with? That’s the first mistake
in every toxic environment. Bad judge, bad people. If you let anyone, that is not
at the level, judging you, you put this kind of people
having power over you. And I know which kind of people
are asking you this question. Are these people you respect
as an entrepreneurs? -Well, the first question I asked was,
those people is… -No,no they are asking you
this question. Who, like there is any respectable
entrepreneur that ask you this kind of question? -No. -Point. So stop talking. That’s the first thing. You should never talk to anyone
that you don’t admire. That’s like really really important. You need to have this kind
of discipline. Like, look, last time we had this event
where entrepreneurs come on stage, they launch their products,
and it was at KOUDETAT, and a guy comes on stage
and he talked about this company, and a guy said in the room: “I don’t know how you’ll ever
make money with that.” And the guy was starting
to reply, and I told him: “please don’t reply,
let me ask three question. Are you an entrepreneur? Yes or no?” “No.” “Are you an investor investing
in companies, and judging the business models
of people? Yes or no?” “No.” “Are you someone that one day in his life
made revenue from anything?” “No.”
“Okay, shut up.” And I can seem harsh
but it’s important because bad judge, bad player. Because when you put yourself in a situation
where you are judged by people, you are putting yourself in a position
where you play around rules, and rules are bad. This is why for example, I tell people
to never go for public grants. Why? Because bad judge. Like you don’t imagine,
I know how it works. First I want 100,000€
from a public grant. So I will fill the folder, the folder
is full of bullshit, so I will put bullshit answer
and I will say: “Yea I do that just for the grant.” And I will call and the guy
will start to ask questions, stupid questions and
what will you do? You will provide stupid answers. And if you think that that doesn’t have
an impact on you, you are a fool. Everyone going on the dark side
stays on the dark side. Like it’s not free to have
in your mind. Think. Answer. You can think that you can
play a game, and fool people but you will always end
by taking an idea or taking something, and that will put you in a situation where the purity of your project
will become horrible. And you know how 99% of people
reply to that feedback? They will say: “Yeah but sometimes,
someone will give you an idea.” Yes, better to don’t have this idea. Of course, in 10% of the case, 20% of the case even if it’s
on 50% of the case some people will tell you things
that are smart. Yeah, but the downside will be
other 50% of the case. The downside will be every single case where you will be in the situation
where you will torture it yourself of discussion. Second point: you said that you are trying to build your confidence. But that’s not the job you should be doing. You are not here to build your confidence about people asking you this kind of questions
and it’s not relevant. You should build your confidence
in front of your customers. You should build your confidence
in front of your team, not in front of random people
that are just here to give you feedback. And by the way that is something
you don’t imagine it’s called the feedback trap. You know if you ask someone
his opinion about something, everyone will always give it. This is why asking feedback is
the most dangerous question on earth. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need
to listen to feedback. It means that you be very careful about
how and to who you ask feedback. And we’ll deal with a complete session
about that. One of the skill that is really hard to get
as an entrepreneur is the interview skill. But so many people are like trapped, and taken in that infinite loop
where they do things stupid, talk to stupid people,
make more stupid decisions, and go back to the stupid infinity loop. And the third thing about you question is that of course you need to get an idea of how you will make money
but if you don’t have like, I know a lot of people think
about business model blah, blah but I never saw business model
that is not obvious. If your business model is not obvious, there are two reasons to that. First reason is because you are not good at that, and you don’t feel comfortable about
making money or like that so… Find someone that is,
like everyone is not made to do money, you know like some people have some things
with money and other don’t. It comes down to education, blah, blah. So you can find someone that
can be better at that than you, or the second reason is that the business model is really not obvious, and in that case, it means most of the time
that the company is impossible. I will take an example. Google. People say: “Google had no idea how
they would make money, and it took them 8 years
to find a business model.” Even I said that on stage
like 30 minutes ago. I’m responsible of that but the problem is that it’s very confusing sentence. The truth is that Google knew how
they would make money on day one. The problem: they did not want
to do it that way. Because it was a personal ethos. Here is the debate. The only way to make money with Google
is advertising business. Larry Page and Sergey Brin
hate advertising. So how do you do? So it took them 8 years
to find a business model, not because business model
was not obvious, it’s because in their heart they hated
to be this kind of person. Thanks God, that constraint created a situation where they invented a new kind of advertising, that was not intrusive,
that was text, that was beautiful, that was intention based with
very high levels of conversion. And that created a kind of a business
that is unique. But that is not because the business model
wasn’t obvious. Of course, if you look at Google and if you think you have
this amount of user, you are sure that at some point
you will put advertising on it. So I don’t know a single business
where the business model isn’t obvious. It’s just this thing that people
don’t want to face, the issue when the business model is not obvious, it’s because they have a personal problem, or because the company is doomed. And that doesn’t mean
that it is not hard. Let’s say Facebook. For example Facebook business model
does advertising as well. Why it took them so long to launch
an advertising platform? Because the return on the investment
on online advertising, until you reach a certain point is very low
and it doesn’t sustain the effort. This is why you should not focus
on business models but that doesn’t meant that
the business model is not obvious. It just means that the execution
of the business model will be later. So I never saw a good company that took more than 5 minutes
to decide what their business model was. Really 5 minutes. But I see thousands
of companies that take 10 years to build these 5 minutes
into reality because that is the issue. That’s what is complicated. Question? Yeah. -First of all your french is so much
better than my … your English is so much better
than my French so thank you. You said that there is a big difference between how the US venture works and Europe.
Does that include venture capital? -Yeah
-Specifically does that include the pitch deck? -That includes everything. Like from top to down. Like there are so many difference between, first there are so many differences
between Silicon Valley and United States, that you imagine the gap between United States-Europe
and Silicon Valley-Europe. The first thing you need to understand is that in the United States,
there is an accident called Silicon Valley that works with their own rules
on their own planet. And it’s an amazing planet. Like I know when I talk about Silicon Valley I always look like
this fan boy talking about it, but let’s just take something in the face. During 10 years they built
a one billion dollar company a month. For 10 years until 2 years ago, when being a billion dollar company become so common that it’s even
more than once a month, it’s 10 a month but until that point, if you look at the five biggest websites we use:
they come from Silicon Valley. If you look at every big
technology company, they come from Silicon Valley,
blah, blah, blah, blah. So Silicon Valley is a unique place
in the world, and there is an underlining consequence
to that. I think it’s the only place in the world where there is more money than projects
on the market. If you look at the structuration
of even New York or Paris, London, Berlin, Italy,
wherever you are in Europe. You always are with a constraint that there are more projects
than money. So projects fight for the money. Because projects fight for the money, it creates a certain kind of biais. Like investors can be not nice. You know why every investor
in Silicon Valley is nice? Because every un-nice investor (almost)
in Silicon Valley is dead. If you are in a market where you can take money from the nice guys, and money from the douche bags, who do you think you will take money from? You will take it from the nice guys. Of course. There is this Darwin
selection effect that really makes things different. Also something unique
in Silicon Valley that you will never find
anywhere else: it’s what I call the middle class
of the Silicon Valley. There are so many people
that are in the situation of: “I’ve been there,
done that.” Meaning that they have been
in the situation where they saw company scale,
and they actively participated to that scaling. So you have people on shelf
in Silicon Valley. For example, when Instagram
reached 100 million users, like talking to someone specialized
in scaling the website to 100 million users if you’re in Europe
it will be hard. Like good luck. Good luck finding someone
in your coffee shop that will know anything
about what it implies. In Silicon Valley the guy
took his phone, he was at a party with a guy working
at Facebook and he calls the guy: “We are in deep shit.
We have this huge traction where everything is broken”, and the guy came to their office
for 5 days, and fixed everything
and told them how to fix things. That’s Silicon Valley. That’s unique. Every single person that think
that they can replicate that by opening an incubator are fools. You know how it works. People go to Silicon Valley, they see all these people in incubators. They come back and they say:
“let’s open an incubator”. Thank God they did not see people
drinking 1 liter of whiskey everyday. If that, we would all be drinking
1 liter of whiskey everyday, because they made a confusion between
a cause and consequence. The real cause of innovation
in Silicon Valley is that people are exceptional because
there is concentration of exceptional stories. It’s not that their DNA is different, it’s that the concentration of experience and the level of knowledge and think: I learnt
more in 2 years in Silicon Valley than in 10 years in France
and I was a very average low player. Let’s imagine. Imagine you are in the top 1%
of Silicon Valley so that creates a situation where the people that give you money are so different
by nature that it implies everything. Like the kind of pitch
that you do in France and in Europe are not the kind of pitch
they do in Silicon Valley. You know why? Because now most of the investor in Silicon Valley
are comfortable about not seeing any deck. Because they know your business
better than you. What is the role of a deck? The role of a deck is
to educate someone that don’t know anything about
what you are doing, why you are doing it
and how you are doing it. So they can evaluate if you are someone they should
give money to or not. So now lets say you go up
to someone that understands what you are
doing better than yourself. Do you think you need
to make him a deck, and tell him “I’m doing A, B….”
“I know, I know, I know. By the way, B C D are wrong,
you should do it that way and that’s the check
to do it.” So everyone that tried to play
the comparison game are foolish. What I was saying is that
you cannot play that game. You need to understand that it’s a very very specific game. And you need to be fine with that. And in Europe you have other advantages…
We’ll see that this afternoon. Yeah please where is the next question is. -Thanks Oussama, What’s your advice about BPI
and French Tech and all blabla like this? So my advice is stay as far as possible, and it’s a very personal advice. You are big people, do whatever you want. You know for example, SAVE is taking BPI money and
they are more than fine with that. And it’s our best company. So I will be very very harsh to say that they are bad people. They are good people that
don’t know what they are doing. So, it’s… to be honest, my view is that you should
not go to see this big institution and big people until you are big enough so they play your own rules. And you should isolate yourself
until that point. And SAVE would never have gone
to BPI in the first year. They reached a point where
they created 400 jobs, they have 400 employees
so when they go to BPI, it is the CEO of BPI
that receives them. And they can say: “look,
we have money in London, we have money in Italy, we have money in Germany,
what can BPI do?” And at that point it becomes a negotiation with the state
that wants you much more than the other so they give you free money,
and they do that with your tax paying money. That’s another question. Like is it normal, like if you do
venture debt in London, it will cost you 12% a year, plus the government and a warrant, and I’m sure half of the people
here doesn’t know what it means, I don’t know. So it will be an horrible condition, but in France when you are these kind of company
you can take free money because it’s tax paying money. Is it a good thing or bad thing? That’s not the question. I’m not here to do politics. If you ask me personally I think that it is a very bad thing. But on a macro level that’s not a reason
to not go there. The reason again is the question
of good judge, bad judge. You should be obsessed in the first year to have only the judge that you deserve
and only people that push you up. For example, we have a company I told them ten times not to go to BPI. But of course in TheFamily
like no one really listen to you, so they went to see BPI
and what happened is that BPI told them: “you are not
doing anything innovative.” And they were like: “Are you kidding?” And so the company
I can say publicly is SoShape. You can go on, it’s a smart food company
at TheFamily. They built the first pancakes
without gluten, without lactose, without fat
that are better than any pancake you’ve ever had
in your life. I’m a big fan of these pancakes. I can tell you that
I’m very serious about these kind of subjects so
and the guy told them: “You don’t have coders…” “Are you kidding me? It’s an innovation.
We built our own production line.” “Yeah but it’s food and you sell it.” And they spent 6 month for that and I told them: “why did you do that?” “Yeah but SAVE is raising…” Again bad judge. They put themselves
in a situation where they could lose their sight, lose their confidence because they want it absolutely to take profit
of something that was there. And it had been a good lesson and they survived. But I have companies and I only tell the stories of people
that survive. But I have companies that did not survive in this process and that is why all of these things
are dangerous. Let’s take the French Tech. We receive emails from people
that tell us that they are French Tech selected
companies and so they are ready
to join TheFamily. I’m like: “Are you kidding me? Did you seriously go through a commission of civil servants,
that have never been entrepreneurs, never had real work in their lives, like meaning real work in the sense
of being in a corporation. and you did your presentation, and you are happy to have been elected
the best startup? You should be worried. You should be like
what’s wrong with me?” Like if this kind of people were good
at predicting the future world, we will all know that. We all know that we are bad at that. You know you still have this,
in administration you still have people that are mobilizing for Minitel. Seriously people go, and do pitching sessions from them … Look at Ministre des Finances in France, or in England
at Buckingham Palace or in Germany, like… Angela Merkel
came in France, and made a pitch about companies
in front of entrepreneurs. You are like: “What
the fuck Angela, please.” “Why are you hurting yourself like that?” And why? Because it’s fashionable, it’s good for communication and people doing that, they don’t understand
that they are the product. Because these people can go, and say: “we are supporting 100 entrepreneurs
and we are doing good for life.” When all of these companies will be dead, they will be like: “yeah, we supported the wrong ones but it’s because we supported
this one that others started.” So they are never wrong because
they never have any KPI to be wrong. So this is why you need to go out
from all of that. Personal opinion.

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8 thoughts on “Started from the Bottom. Oussama Ammar, Partner at TheFamily

  1. Excellent talk loaded with great insights about the European ecosystem and actionable advice. Now I'm inspired. Thank you Oussama!

  2. merde c'est dommage que l'accent soit aussi dur a écouter . . . un vrai torture ayayay !!
    car il explique des truc extraordinaire et super intéressant, j'ai compris pourquoi vous voulez faire en anglais mais parler français si 99% du public est français et si en plus vous pouvez pas bien parler anglais . . . c'est compliqué . . .
    pour le site aussi c'est cool de tout faire en anglais je valide la démarche mais c'est vraiment dommage de pas avoir translate en plusieurs langue espagnol français etc . . .

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