big bang factory is not our first venture. It is more of a reunion. I’ve known Marie and Xavier under different hats over the past six years. Now is a good time to reflect on a few episodes of our shared history.
I first met Xavier and Marie as business partners (2013) shortly before they launched French Tech Hub, as I was developing our North-American Technology Practice at Business France and designing one of the first FR-US acceleration programs (now known as Impact USA). The focus of our conversations was to explore synergies between Business France’s business development artillery and French Tech Hub’s strategic thinking forces.
Marie was in Boston and I was in SF. We never met in person at the time, but spoke regularly over the phone. Somehow complicity was established from the get-go, we were talking the same language and had a shared (obsessive?) problem-solving attitude to address customer issues and build the right project teams for our common customers. I enjoyed Marie’s mix of psychological finesse and action-oriented personality.
After I left Business France and built my own consulting business (2015), we kept in touch. I regularly came to offer mentoring sessions and workshops on U.S. business practices to French Tech Hub’s pool of entrepreneurs. It didn’t take long until I joined Marie, Xavier and the French Tech Hub team full time (2017), searching for expert eyes to confront my own opinions and recommendations. Whatever our roles at French Tech Hub turned out to be (2017–2018), Marie and I always acted as a leading duo to the team, Marie more focused on the Marketing and Sales aspects and myself on Delivery Quality and Customer Success, with Xavier skillfully conducting the band with his steadfast positive spirit.
Xavier was a one-of-kind CEO. I always considered more as a mentor than a hierarchical superior. Never would he question me in a reporting or inflammatory mode — what have been doing with your time, why did you meet that person, why didn’t you let me know beforehand? Instead he would position himself as a strong supporter — how can I help you, have you tried to, do you want me to contact…? In addition, Xavier would find the right level of involvement to make you feel in charge while constantly offering a security net. Just as he did with entrepreneurs, he would apply his laser-focused approach to your projects and rally his valuable connections with care.
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. If there were two individuals I would feel confident building a company with, it would be Marie and Xavier. As French Tech Hub came to an end in its historic version, we took the initiative to recall the spirit of our past collaboration into a private venture, rebuilding a team, and onboarding our best and most loyal consultants in the process.
Along the way Julien would join the team (2019). This later encounter was truly fortunate and inspiring. We immediately connected and felt aligned as Julien helped us draw the future of the new venture. With his analytical mind and VC experience, he quickly embraced the role of challenging the status quo and carved out his special place in the team.
The mentoring and supporting mindset instilled by Xavier as a birthmark of French Tech Hub, was as strong as ever as big bang factory arose! If there’s anything we all have in common, it is this humble quality of accepting reciprocal challenging and creating around each other’s specificity. Because amongst ourselves, we have it all covered. Strategy, Sales, Funding. Methodology, Network, Actions. Analysis, Insights, Recommendations, you name it! We are each other’s driving force. Each of us possesses a special superpower — Marie with her ability to connect with (and convince!) anyone within five minutes, Xavier with his bottomless positivism and risk-embracing manners, me with an addiction to lean methodology, innovative frameworks, and customer value added. Our complementarity makes our approach simultaneously creative, structured and result-oriented.
We are also bound by our strong ethics and intellectual honesty. We make a big deal of being transparent with our customers, for the good news and bad news. We won’t praise a competition slide if we think it is overly simplistic (I’m sure a few entrepreneurs I got the chance to mentor can relate!). If you provide us with a mediocre sales presentation, we will iterate until we’ve achieved a top-notch U.S. style two-pager. We will grill you and have you rehearse your pitch in simili VC conditions before opening our network of investors. We will never pressure an entrepreneur to settle in the U.S. when every person we interview for market validation expresses concern — even if that would have meant more business for us. We aim for collective success: it is in everybody’s best interest to always shoot for the highest standards.
And this applies to us as well. I value the fact that we are all yearning to expand our skill sets, always open to being challenged, and never scared of stepping outside of our comfort zone. Xavier successfully switched from Salesforce to Hubspot following Marie’s recommendation. Marie is a sales bookworm, constantly excited to dig into customer behaviors, learn about new selling best practices, and to apply them on the field. Julien put on hold a well-established VC partner position and switch to the entrepreneur side. What about me? I can now relate to entrepreneurs’ experience, concerns and hopes as a peer and no longer as a government agent or institutional player.
Needless to say, Marie, Xavier, Julien and I share common interests and values beyond our everyday business. One of the most central is our passion for sports. Marie is a former marathon runner, yoga fan and now coaches her jump rope champion of a daughter! Julien runs, plays golf, practices kite surf, and is open to discovering new extreme sports. Xavier is a hiker, a cyclist, an alpinist and a Chamonix lover! And I am a tennis player, marathon runner and swimmer. Here again we cover it all, from long-distance running, to risk-taking activities, from off-the-beaten-track competitions, to mountain-climbing.
So how would you feel having us on your side to launch you U.S. business? Let’s give it a try and see!
NB: Guess which one of us is featured in the following picture… And gain a free consulting session with one of big bang factory co-founders!