“From investment banker to entrepreneur: you create your role as you go”
When you become an entrepreneur, the change of life can be tough. However, creating a start-up is “reliving. We keep learning and it’s hyper-stimulating, ”says Damien Catani, this former investment banker who became a business creator. After a first episode on FrenchWeb, the founder of goalmap completes the story of his adventure …
Read also: “Why I left investment banking to join entrepreneurship”
In finance, work, whether financial modeling on Excel or presentations Power point, is mainly accomplished on desktop. It was on this format that I had developed my file Excel. It is not the BlackBerry provided to me by my employer who helped me discover the world of mobile applications. So we started naturally with a website. The sentence was severe. We have capped at 2 or 3 new accounts created per day and 500 users in total, all inactive except for the team! The feedback was unanimous: everyone wanted a mobile application. It is therefore after a big detour that we rediscovered the famous precept mobile first. So we got down to developing an application and this time things went better. Within weeks, without advertising, we had the 10,000 created accounts in our sights. Not enough to claim victory but the difference was clear.
Who has two houses loses his reason
Today, we can do everything remotely, create a project with discussions on Skype, manage their tasks on JIRA, without an office, everyone in their corner, sometimes even without meeting, etc. This is how we started. Me in one country, student developers in another, part-time on the project, sometimes taken by exams, the designer in a third country, etc. It progressed but it was sometimes laborious, with tensions sometimes exacerbated by distance communication. We finally all got together last May for three days of work together in the same place. We have made more progress in three days than before in three months, and the momentum created has continued.
Remote work is practical, it can work to a certain extent if we know each other, if we trust each other, and if we are used to working together. But it’s important to have a base. With this conviction, we set up in a business incubator with two full-time team members. Better two people full time than ten part time.
Work more to earn less
In investment banking, the hours are heavy, but the remuneration is consequent, with a high salary and an annual bonus representing more than the fixed salary for the whole year. In a start-up, we give a lot of ourselves. You don’t stop thinking about it once you get home. All for no or negligible financial gain. Many people from elsewhere who started their careers in trades corporate well-paid people – banker, strategy consultant, business lawyer – are reluctant to make a career change that would result in a significant loss of purchasing power overnight.
Entrepreneurship only makes sense from a broader perspective. If you do it for the money dreaming of becoming a unicorn, you are on the wrong track, it will not be a sufficient driving force. The equation is not going to work. On the other hand, if you are passionate about your project, everything will be easier, you will have this polar star that shines in the distance and guides your steps. You will certainly be giving a lot of your time, your energy, even your money, but in return you will learn a lot, you will be completely engaged in what you do and you will have the rare satisfaction of aligning what you do on a daily basis with whom you are.
“We get tired of everything, except to learn”, Virgil
In finance, the learning curve is steep at the start. We learn a lot technically, from a theoretical point of view and on mastering tools. Discover Excel was a real epiphany! Then we learn to plan and manage projects, to coordinate people internally or externally. Then the learning curve gradually flattens out and technology gives way to politics, which is not without interest but quickly becomes repetitive. Finance only covers a small part of a company’s value chain. In a start-up, it’s not the same story! You have to learn a lot of things very quickly, and continuously. The frameworks of design, those of development, marketing techniques to launch an application, referencing, business development, the creation of the company, the drafting of the articles of association, the shareholders’ agreement, accounting, pitches, fundraising, process implementation, recruitment, etc. On all subjects, without ever becoming an expert, you must know enough and above all quickly enough to make quick decisions. Personally, I was starting to get bored of constantly reusing things that I already knew. To create a start-up was to relive. We never stop learning and it’s hyper-stimulating!
Play the emotional yo-yo
In an ordinary profession, the functions and interactions of employees are regulated by titles and the organization chart. The choreography is more or less known in advance. There may be spikes in activity or stress, but year after year, things are going their way, the level of satisfaction is fairly stable, not generally very high but bearable. Everyone has a well-defined role in the big hive and no one is irreplaceable. In a start-up it’s different. You are building the hive from scratch. You don’t occupy an already defined position, you create your role as you go along. The degree of involvement is hyper-high, and we live very close to the skin. Mood stability gives way to emotional roller coasters.
The day you go from 50 to 200 downloads a day because a blog is about your app, you’re excited like never before and your friends suspect you of taking amphetamines. On the other hand, the day when the person with whom you wanted to discuss a partnership postpones the meeting because they are underwater, you see everything in black and are on the verge of throwing yourself under a train.
Fasten your seatbelts ! While there will be moments of immense joy, the journey is long and remains strewn with pitfalls. It’s not a sprint. It’s more of a 3,000-meter steeplechase. Resilience is key!
These are the first lessons learned from this start of a start-up adventure. There will certainly be many more along the way. The idea here was to share these first hot sightings in the hopes that they motivate those who are about to get started, comfort those who are just getting started, and bring back old memories to those who have been there a while ago. a long time already. Starting a start-up is certainly not a walk in the park, but if it were, it would be a lot less fun!
Damien catani began his career in investment banking. He quickly becomes aware of the value of life balance and then develops a method so as not to lose sight of his personal goals. Then, a little over a year ago, he set up a small team and founded a start-up to share this method and this passion thanks to goalmap, a mobile application for setting goals and achieving them (available for free on ios and Android).