7 years ago today, Quentin Nickmans and I met for a coffee in Brussels. We had this crazy idea to create a startup studio: building many…
7 years ago today, Quentin Nickmans and I met for a coffee in Brussels. We had this crazy idea to create a startup studio: building many companies in parallel by pooling resources. The idea was clear from day-one: we wanted to work very hard over a short period of time to quickly make each company completely independent. It would free time and resources for us to launch new companies. Back then, we though it will be easy and rapidly rewarding.
Actually, it took much longer than expected. And we only started 3 companies during the first 3 years: Mailjet (eF11), TextMaster (eF11) and Mention (eF13). It turned out to be about more than just finding good ideas and partnering with amazing entrepreneurs — which by the way is still the biggest challenge — but also about dedicating a huge amount of our time. Launching 3 companies in parallel is actually like launching 3 separate companies all at once. We realized that it would take more time and resources than expected.
So, as of year 3, we scaled to be 4 partners in the core team with Didier and Matt whom had joined the force almost from the beginning. We needed to go to the next step and decided to slightly increase the size of the core team and to raise some money.
In 2014 we had more money. And, with time, we also had some more visibility… and better entrepreneurs knocking at the door. It was time for us to scale up and for the first time we simultaneously build 3 companies in parallel the same year: Aircall (eF14), Front (eF14) and Solved, a project which we aborted before incorporation. It was the first and true startup studio experience and it turned out to be virtuous: with teams helping and challenging one another. We learned a lot during that time, especially about how to get more efficient by bringing rhythm, process, and unfair advantages to our companies. At that time we also decided to give much more shares to the founders, from 33% to 50% despite an always larger investment in terms of money and resources. Aircall and Front grew up pretty quickly and crossed the Atlantic to become fully autonomous.
We were laying the foundations of our playbook, and we decided to move to our own office in 2015 while also accelerating the pace up to 3 to 4 companies launched each year. Since then we have made 6 companies independent: Illustrio (eF16), Spendesk (eF16), Hivy (eF16), Forest (eF16), Slite (eF17) and Station (eF17) with an extra 3 companies currently being built. 7 years is a great time to touch base and to review what we’ve accomplished so far. We’ve made 13 companies independent, employing more than 400 people and generating more than 30M EUR annual revenue. Many things are happening right now, and the beginning of 2018 will be a new height in the history of eFounders.
On a more personal note, I should say that what we’re proudest of is to have guided great entrepreneurs to build their own, ambitious companies. To this day, it’s still what drives us and what we’ll continue to do in the coming years. We want any entrepreneur to consider eFounders as an alternative to creating their company — it’s as easy as dropping us a line. And to remove every mental obstacle in the way of this, we’ve once again decided to give away much more equity to founders. As of today we give 66% of equity to the founding team in order to target every entrepreneur and to give the company the chance to become worldwide leaders. Nothing less.