Entrup is a startup based in Lyon France, founded by 3 very good friends in the attempt to make human collaboration easier and more effective.
Tom and Vince have always known each other. Their fathers are childhood friends, so they basically grew up together. JB and Tom met in engineering school in 2008 (Telecom). They started working together on the project in 2013, first remotely since Vince was studying in Canada whereas Tom and JB were working in Paris. They all gathered in Lyon in 2015, quit their jobs and decided to live together in a 25m2 studio on their few savings to start their project full time.
First, they created a Tinder-like platform aiming to match potential partners according to skills complementarity. With no efforts in communication (they had no operational social pages), they gathered 5,000 entrepreneurs in less than 6 months on their platform. They then launched a serious game which analysed compatibility (values, personalities, motivations) between partners, and they managed to convince Michel & Augustin (successful French founders) to use it.
After a year, they realized that they loved working together and that they knew how to take benefit their differences and complementarities, enough to join an ambitious and exciting adventure: Aster by Entrup.
Starting from nothing and knowing nothing, they have created 2 products that have generated nearly 250,000 Euros in 12 months and formed a super team of 10 people including a former 47-year-old sales director who has given up everything to join them and to their mission.
After all these experiences, there are the 5 lessons that they have learned, shared by Vincent, the CEO of Entrup:
1. All starts with a great team
Some people say that the idea is everything, but I think that the team is more important because you need support to grow your idea and bring it into the stage of the project. One day, we simply realized that we would love more than anything to create something impactful together. The important word here being: “together”, even though we are nothing alike!
We have very different personalities that we learnt to master, and now it rocks! Vince is an intuitive go-getter, he opens doors and likes to start from a blank sheet whereas Tom secures actions, measures risks and refines every detail to make the execution a success.
About JB, beyond his technological mastery and his talent to transform a product idea into a product that people love, he discovered a great sensitivity to team management both for our partners’ team and internally. This magic trio is an asset for operations, but it is also a source of energy and enthusiasm that drives us (and the whole team) to overachieve.
Being an entrepreneur is synonym with having a team aligned in vision and values, someone who has complementary skills and respect for each other.
We were warned a lot at the beginning of the adventure: “It’s dangerous to be partners when you are friends, guys!”. 3 years later, we are still much closer than before. Nothing is easy, but the trust, respect and ambition we share make us stronger and closer. For many people, this is surprising. For us, it’s funny. :)
2. If it is not signed, it is not sold
This is a rule we learned it the hard way. A few days to complete our fundraising, Entrup has been dropped by its main investor. We received a phone call in the evening to say: ‘sorry, but we’re not supporting you anymore’, and that was all. The fundraising, the second in three years ended up with a smaller amount than expected, 610,000 euros instead of 1 million.
The day after the withdrawn call, we had a crisis meeting at Entrup. The priority was to reassure other investors about our plans and strategy. In three days, we have prepared a new plan. Everyone followed us, some even put more money than expected.
With their support, we then contacted our bank with whom we had begun to negotiate a loan of 200,000 euros. The loan was granted! What did we learn from this? The unexpected hits you when you less expect and in the most unappropriated moments so be prepared and be pragmatic.
3. At the beginning, all the team should be focused on one thing
Every start-up has different stages of growth and the early years are the most important, that is why, in order to create a stable company, you must put all your effort into one single goal, and after you reach it you must find another one and so on.
You don’t need your team to focus on 3 different matters, you need to focus on only one but to do it great. In our case, we first focused on the product. After we created Aster, our product, we started focusing on the selling process to customers. Now we are focused on the delivery part and how to make it successful so that people get engaged with our product.
4. Recruiting is the most important process of a startup
Recruitment in the early stages of existence of a start-up is a very strategic process and the first employees are just as important as the founders. Finding the right people will not only bring you their skills but will also save you money and time and you will have someone on which you can rely on even it is not part of the team from the beginning. Find people you can trust and who are prepared to follow you and to engage in your mission.
5. Never give up
Even if we made it to the last step, we have recently been rejected by the Y Combinator. It was a bit disappointing, but we keep the same growth mindset. We had some really hard times since we have begun our entrepreneurship adventure.
We expected to be hard and very hard, but it has been even harder than expected, but at the same time, it has been more challenging, more motivating and more engaging than we have ever thought. I think that when you are an entrepreneur, on average, you receive more bad news than good news, but choose to focus on the good ones to keep you motivated and to be enthusiastic about the next day/ adventure.