Optimism is a form of courage that gives confidence in others and leads to success
After 11 great years as a partner at MyBestPro and 5 years at the head of Juritravail.com, I decided to live my second life as an entrepreneur.
“Optimism is a form of courage that gives confidence in others and leads to success”.
This quote from Jacques Veyrat (heard during the last BPI Innovation) perfectly sums up the state of mind of the 11 years that I have just spent at the head of Juritravail and partner within its parent company MyBestPro.
To be an entrepreneur, you have to know how to stay positive at all times … and it is a daily struggle to get there when we experience the unforeseen, when we doubt our choices … When this optimism transpires in your teams and everyone people believe it gives off that “good stress” and positive energy that often leads to success.
I am a great admirer of this incredible entrepreneur and Jacques Veyrat is the first person to trust the founders of Wengo in 2004.
Back to 2007… “Sylvain you come, there are 4 guys who want to do something that doesn’t exist”
I remember this discussion over coffee with my 15-year-old friend (Patrick Amiel), in the corridors of the MRM Mc Cann agency in November 2006. At the end of the coffee I said go, I saw the founders the next day and I resigned the day after. Becoming a partner in a startup was a dream come true … and it was on for 11 years of 200% madness.
The genesis of MyBestPro
Wengo was created in 2004 by David Bitton, Alain Delhaye, Olivier Giunti and Jerome Wagner. Originally, they invented the first IP telephony software launched mainly on the French-speaking market with the Wengophone software before the arrival of Skype and internet boxes. It was at the time one of the most technologically innovative startups in the world of intermediation. It was in 2006, during the first pivot of the company, that they had the idea of focusing the economic model no longer on the tool but on the value of the exchanges between the callers. The idea was to create a marketplace allowing all types of experts to monetize their know-how remotely by phone, video, chat, by the minute or on a flat-rate basis.
So I followed Patrick who joined the founders team. The 15th month we made the famous crossing of the desert, few calls, few quality experts, we had to learn everything brick / brick, expertise / expertise and convince individuals and professionals to leave their credit card to call an expert at the minute that we do not know (we are in 2007). Optimism was vital and our motto “We never give up! Was plastered on our walls to keep up with these difficult times. It was fascinating, acquisition, products, crm, management of experts, we put everything together with little means. We gradually oriented our strategy towards verticals with strong brands and put the idea of a market place aside.
Today MyBestPro is several tens of millions of business volume, millions of remote and face-to-face expert consultations under the 5 brands: Wengo(Coaching / Well-being), Legal work (Legal), HabitatPresto (Craftsmen), Medical appointments (Health) and Bordas (Education).
MyBestPro, a unique factory of entrepreneurs
The number of former brilliant colleagues who went to MyBestPro and became entrepreneurs is quite incredible, I am thinking of Julien Barbier who co-founded Holberton School one of the best tech schools in the world in San Francisco, but also Florian Bucher with school 42 that everyone knows, Benjamin Zenou and Jonathan Attal with Simplifield, Guirec Courbon who bought Wengo in Brazil and is developing well, Laure Marchal with BlogBox, Mathias Veil and Oulaladeals, there are many examples. This company has always left the possibility for its employees to recover after a failure, it is a great sign of confidence on the part of the founders. It reminds me of Churchill’s quote, “success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
2012–2017… from intermediation for lawyers to the digital legal department with Juritravail
I had the chance to lead Juritravail as soon as it was taken over in January 2012. At the time, we were looking for growth drivers and a way to attack the B2B market to help our lawyers develop their practice. In 2010, we already had hundreds of lawyers who earned several thousand euros in fees per month. We wanted to go further and offer VSEs and SMEs access to remote and face-to-face legal advice on demand. Juritravail was founded in 2003 by Nicolas Gershel and Pierre Celaries, these 2 brilliant entrepreneurs had the talent to create a legal content site for employees and VSE-SMEs with at the time already 1.3M VU / month and wanted to move on.
Seek, make mistakes, find and manage growth
With my team, we have for 2 years tested many offers, tested commercial channels in all directions and it is from 2014 (resilience when you have us) that Juritravail took off and multiplied its turnover by 3 between 2015 and 2017 and its traffic by 4. Today, thousands of VSEs and SMEs have access to digital legal information and by telephone with legal experts. They can reach lawyers 7/7 and manage paperless legal procedures themselves.
One of Juritravail’s strengths has also been our ability to work with large groups in order to provide them with our digital knowledge and legal information by telephone. I will always be grateful to Rose-Marie Pardo of Groupama, our first client to trust us. Very, very good companies then trusted us. It is also impossible not to mention my top business strategy consultant David Cassel who helped us test new economic models.
Return to La Rochelle
This B2B2C diversification and organic digital growth allowed us to go from 12 to more than 55 employees (without fundraising) and it was in March 2015 that I set up a 3rd site after that of Paris and Clermont Ferrand, in La Rochelle my city of heart. We have set up from 3 subsidiaries of the group and created more than 70 jobs (one of my greatest pride). La Rochelle has many assets (quality schools and universities, research labs, 2h25 from Paris) and quality startups (Sellsy, Euromakers, Watt & Sea, Ullo…) just waiting to develop. I would like to underline the dynamism of the Mayor of La Rochelle Jean-François Fountaine and his Vice-president in charge of the economy Jean-Luc Algay to attract more and more companies to our beautiful territory.
The first team, the projects after
I will never forget all the work accomplished with my teams, Jean-Nicolas, Carole, Caroline, Florence, Pauline. I do not forget Samy our first CTO, Sarah, Gregory, Jérôme, Stephane, Christophe and Geoffroy, Kamel, Hani, Claire, Mélanie, Ali, Antony, Margot, Pierre who have invested so much. A huge thank you to our coder MyBestPro with Ali, Célia, Stephane, Emeline, Romain, Xavier and Anne-Fleur who have helped me so much to take a step back in hot times. All this would not have been possible without the support of our shareholder Vivendi who has always supported us. Thanks to Simon Gillham for his unwavering support, Jean-Louis for these precious PR advice, I am also thinking of Caroline, Corinne, Thibaud, Régis Turrini and Agnès.
Today Juritravail is profitable, has the largest legal audience in France and all the ingredients (customers, services, products) and internal skills to accelerate and become a key player in the world of Law and legaltechs.
This energy to maintain growth took me away from the missions I liked to get up to every morning. I didn’t really know why I wanted to continue or even if I still really wanted to. No need to hide, I needed something new and it took me a while to notice it and accept it. I don’t like processes and flowcharts bother me, I am not the most talented at training on a daily basis which does not prevent me from loving exchanging and motivating my teams, showing the way yes but supervising on a daily basis m ‘interest little. I had forgotten what I liked and knew how to do the best: finding twisted ideas, testing, retesting until I saw the first million turnover grow, structure and federate commando teams to innovate concretely. This is what I decided to do again now.
Undertake, innovate and develop new ideas
I have not yet found precisely THE project. I am studying several scenarios and decided for the first time to take a little time and step back. Objectives: fun, diversity, meetings, ambition, social impact and innovation!
- To begin with, I squat from time to time an office at my friends Alain Mevellec and Frederic Coulais de Sellsy, I love their box and the atmosphere that reigns there and nothing better than to be a creative environment to think about ideas. The 3 of us are also going to work on a beautiful and original big event in digital for the end of the year in La Rochelle of course, more info soon?
- Joining a great team at a stage early enough in their creation or needing to pivot. I have been discussing for several weeks with a beautiful startup, business to follow …
- A special project around entrepreneurship and training in La Rochelle: I take a little tour of France and Europe to fully understand ecosystems and some schools. I am convinced that our training courses are obsolete and that the teaching methods are no longer adapted to the desires (of the learners) and the needs of the companies. Despite the proliferation of incubators and accelerators, we still have nearly 90% of startups that fail before 4 years, I am convinced that there is a lack of a system and a structure to support day-to-day after the design and reflection …
- Support 2/3 startups for a while either by being on boards and / or part time on the subjects mentioned above, I want to discover different sectors and to use my experience (and the many failures) with other entrepreneurs. I also discuss with some investment funds to help them study projects. Helping large groups in their digital transformation is also one of the avenues with a single prism: concrete projects 🙂
- And to finish, I am going to study closely 4 sectors of activity that have attracted me for a long time: the back market which seems to me to be promising with an obvious social impact, maritime trade and also legal because I believe that the legal market is is that at the beginning of his revolution!
And finally, I will finish reading books that I have piled up for the last few years and never took the time to start or finish.
The best is yet to come!
Keep and touch?
Partner at Wengo since 2007 and formerly in charge of marketing, member of the Wengo management committee. Sylvain Dely has managed Juritravail since its takeover in January 2012 following the merger with 2 other companies, Net-iris.fr and Wengo Entreprises. Juritravail is a company and subsidiary of Wengo (Vivendi Group).