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Founders @eFounders

March 12, 2015
Thibaud Elziere
Thibaud is the founder of Hexa. An entrepreneur at heart, Thibaud has co-founded over 30 companies through Hexa, many of which have become huge successes. He knows what makes a good idea and how to kickstart it. Previous to Hexa, Thibaud exited his first company Fotolia to Adobe.

or what makes us hire our “unicorn riders”

or “The Great Quest for our Unicorn Riders”

eFounders is a startup studio. Which means that we build startups — as opposed to “we’re mentoring & investing in them”. The startup studio model gives us the opportunity to choose the co-founders that will work on our companies.

Finding the right entrepreneurs is one of the biggest challenges we have to face, and I dedicate one-third of my time doing that.

We receive more than 50 applications of business and technical founders each week. Therefore, we have to define a clear image of the profiles we are looking for. After four years of building startups, lots of mistakes and 18 talented founders recruited, we are now better at choosing the best fits.

It is very important to understand that we are looking for people that we know can match the requirements of our model. It doesn’t mean that people we don’t work with will not be able to be successful entrepreneurs on their own. Hiring founding partners is extremely complicated. Matching profiles with our model is a good solution for us, yet we know it definitely makes us miss out on very good talents.

We are seeking exceptional founders that will be able to ride with us during the 18 months of co-founding a startup together and be able to gallop on their own for the rest of the time.

Here are the qualities that are important to make the company quickly independent from the studio and to be able to lead the company from 0 to 1 (billion):

1. Entrepreneurial mindset

The first thing we are checking when we meet a new founder is whether or not he/she has an entrepreneur mindset. It might seem difficult to perceive as it is actually more a feeling than a hard fact. To me, it is a mix between enthusiasm, recklessness, independence, a strong will to build and a true vision.

2. Evangelist

Being able to communicate his/her passion and vision is one of the most fundamental required skills for our founders. It means being a good communicator towards the media, having a sense of leadership when managing a team, being a good seller when convincing clients, etc. As the company has to be very quickly independent from our studio, evangelism is crucial because it helps a lot to raise money and to hire a dedicated team.

3. Structured and hands-on

Starting a company (especially in the tech industry) doesn’t always requires the same skill set as scaling one. The good “starters” are not always the best “builders” and vice versa. We are looking for the “5 legged sheeps” that can be at the same time the full stack “doers”, the audacious bootstrappers when it is about building an MVP and the disciplined leader or the good manager when it is about to structure the company.

4. Web lover

We are not working building startups in the insurance or the construction industry. Whatever the market we focus on (translation, travel, etc) all of our products take part in the software industry. The job requires dealing with developers, designers, VCs, mockups, products, servers. Our business founders don’t have to be “geeks” but need to be fond of the software industry.

5. Technical skills

We require our technical founders to have very strong technical skills. First, because they’ll have to build the entire platform him/herself (although, in reality, we often hire a second developer in the first weeks). Secondly, even though the CTO doesn’t have to be the best of his team, I am convinced that his/her skills will get him/her the respect of his peers. We always conduct technical tests in order to be sure that the tech founder has a deep technical knowledge.

We always look for this pair of business / technical founders and they instantly become CEO and CTO of the company. They also are the main shareholders, owning at least 50% of the company. We always ask them to differentiate their role as founders and managers of the company and to always put the interests of the company first.

Even though it is always better when the CEO and the CTO remain the same during the company’s live, these roles are definitely not granted. Keeping initial founders as the managing team of the company has to be “the normal way” but it sometimes becomes best for the company’s interests to opt for a different way.

If you think you can ride a unicorn with us, please apply here.