How we decided to team up with Yousign
I don’t usually put pen to paper to share our new companies. But this time is special (even by our standards). We recently announced the first 3 companies to come out of our eF19 batch. Here is the story of the 4th company to join us this year:
5 years ago — a lifetime away by tech standards — my cofounder Quentin and I were determined to launch a company in the eSignature space. We bought the domain 123sign.com and even hired the CEO to lead the project, who ended up bringing a whole new project to life… But that’s a different story.
Our plan to launch 123sign was slowed down, but we persevered. That summer, we met with two young entrepreneurs who were eager to work on the subject. In the end, they went their own way and our project for 123sign was put on hold, until last summer. 4 years after our first encounter, I reached out to Luc and Antoine to catch up:
The last few years had been busy. Luc and Antoine had built Yousign and turned it into a major player on the French market. We had kept an eye on the eSignature market and our desire to launch 123sign had never really gone away. Barriers for new incumbents are high on the eSignature market — companies need certifications in order to provide compliant and legally-binding eSignature services. We could start from scratch, but teaming up with an existing player would allow us to move much faster.
We instantly hit it off with Luc and Antoine. The next few days convinced each of us that we stood a lot to gain from partnering up. They had the infrastructure, the team, and brand awareness. We had product and marketing expertise to share.
The market is huge, and still growing. Established, American players in the industry have a foothold in the European market, but we think there is room for a European leader. And this shared ambition cemented our partnership. The challenge wasn’t simple: we had to buy out funds that had already invested in Yousign. After several months, we finally came to an agreement to buy half of the company’s shares, half of which will be held by eFounders, and half by our eClub.
The hardest part is still ahead of us. We’ve been working with the team for several months, starting before we actually inked the deal. In that time, we’ve worked on a comprehensive revamp of their app as well as an overhaul of the marketing strategy. We know the market is huge, and we’re convinced it will only grow bigger. We trust the founders, and we’re determined to fulfil our shared ambition. We believe we have all the cards in hand to position Yousign ahead of its American competitors and turn it into the European eSignature leader.
Partnering up with an existing company is new ground for us. It’s not our model. But if the model doesn’t allow you space to try the things you want to try, then you should change it. That’s what we did, and it’s what we’ll keep doing to deliver our vision: a galaxy of software solutions dedicated to SMEs. To be continued!